There’s a man that looks like a Ken doll. Impossibly muscular back in a white t-shirt, beautifully young, perfect arms take Instagram pictures of his food. The old man opposite him smiles and pays the bill, knowing he’ll get some. This will not be a free meal.
Beside us, a 30-year old daughter argues gently with her parents about her wedding. Her groom is excrutiatingly absent. They want traditional, she doesn’t. ‘What will the Rabbi say?’ they ask, as she excuses herself to pee. The baby is pressing on her bladder.
There’s a rugby match happening on the TV in the corner. Someone is beating someone else. The dad watches, the mom keeps quiet, waiting for their daughter to come back from the toilet, her pants too tight.
‘I need to lose some of my winter weight,’ she says, as she sits back down. ‘The wedding is next week. I hope I fit in the dress.’ They’re all thankful for the waiter who arrives just then, making it unnecessary to acknowledge the obvious, spreading the food between them, a fragrant barrier to further conversation. There is no room for further discussion. Their mouths are full.
In the far corner an old man sits, alone, but not lonely. He watches like I do, and I want to invite him over, to sit with us, to ask him what he sees, as I make up stories in my head. Maybe I will.
Moral of the story: you probably don’t want to sit next to me in a restaurant… I’m my mother’s child. The food arrived.