Lunch at Acquerello
The waiter brings menus. I’m not interested in food; I just like watching you. A lock of hair escapes its silver clasp. You dreamily twirl it around one finger. You get ten points for sheer elegance.
“You haven’t changed a bit, Laura,” I tell you. Terrible opening. I deduct five points from my score for lack of originality. Starting off in the hole. “Except for the pierced ears.” I redeem myself, bringing my points back to zero.
You look startled. Your left hand inadvertently touches an opal earring.
“Your birthstone,” I state as if I actually knew. You nod, impressed. You always had a penchant for zodiac signs, and a fondness for opals. I finally put two and two together. Lucky guess, perhaps. I prefer to think of it as inspired. I proudly bump my count up to ten.
“What a creative menu,” I observe. “Asparagus, avocado and lime soup.” Sounds like you. “Still a vegetarian?” You smile your acknowledgement. More points for me. The count is getting high; I need to record it. I surreptitiously pull up the calculator on my phone and enter scores. You frown and stare suspiciously.
“Just checking on Mom. She’s not been well lately.” You always hated my score-keeping, but soften after the lie about my mother. Three points for me.
You seem pleased with your triple-green soup. I’m loving my braised salmon. “Waiter, bring us some flowers,” I call out on a whim. He brings yellow roses. You shake your head. “Take them away,” I amend. Minus three. Forget roses.
“How’s Adam?” Your gesture says he’s history. Excellent. Adam’s out, I’ll soon be back in.
After the pear sorbet, I signal the waiter. “Check, please. And reserve us this same table for Monday.”
“No thanks!” Self-possessed, sweet, always the perfect lady. “You and your silly scoring system. You also haven’t changed a bit. We’re divorced, Jim, remember?” You sail out, but I’m not worried. You get ten points for poise.
“On Monday, red dahlias for our table,” I tell the waiter. Unusual. Out of season. Twenty points.
You’ll come. I’m sure of it.