800 people have read my blog. Thank you for your support. In celebration of this occasion, how about a story? I could use some help with this one.
Last Friday, or was it Thursday, I walked down to King St. in Old Town, Alexandria to Chipotle. Burrito bol time. It was about 3pm — yeh, I eat a late lunch — so the place was pretty much empty. If you go between noon and 1:30 or so it’s jam packed crazy full of cosmopolitan Northern VA types plus some Regent University and T.C. Williams High kids and a dash of touristas. You can barely find a place to sit. But at 3pm there were only about 3 or 4 people sitting down eating so I had my pick and sat down in a booth with an only slightly obstructed view out of the front windows on to King and out of the side windows on to St. Asaph. Lot of eye candy around those parts. I was listening to Walter Mosley’s latest novel, a sci-fi fantasy titled “The Wave”.
Did I mention how empty the place was? I want you to picture a nearly empty Chipotle Restaurant. Gleaming silver and blonde wood table tops. Edgar Allen Poe blood red colored walls. Clean, shiny, and even feeling spacious. Got that image in your head? Good. Then you’ll be as surprised as I was when I tell you that a woman walked up to my table, looked at me, smiled kind of in a non-verbal “mind if I sit here” fashion and proceeded to sit her food on the table where I was sitting. Then she walked back to the condiment/napkin/silverware area to accessorize her lunch.
A large, beveled, shiny, black 3D question mark appeared over my head, spinning lazily. Then I figured I shouldn’t be rude so I took my head phones off. She was short, looked like she may be from Central or South America. She had a purse and a few bags with her as if she’d been shopping on King St. for a while.
She came back and sat across from me in the booth but didn’t say anything. She situated her things, sliding them all against the wall side of the booth and then she scooted over close to the wall to secure her things.
I looked up from my bol. I was waiting for momentary eye contact so I could open a conversation with something like, “How’s it going?” or “Oh, I see you’ve been shopping.” or “You’re into the burritol bol, too, huh? It’s all about the bol.”
But she wouldn’t make eye contact so I just went back to eating. And wondering. For the next ten minutes or so it was quiet. I ate my food. She ate her food. She wouldn’t look in my direction. So it was starting to feel a little weird. I excused myself kind of and went to the counter to get a bag and a cover for the rest of the bol so I could take it back to work with me.
I packed my things up, took one last hit of Nantucket Nectar, stood up, said, “Have a nice day.” and walked to the trash can to throw away some napkins. She never responded and never made eye contact. As I was leaving, one of the girls who worked there walked to the booth and started talking to the woman in Spanish.
And I walked back to work.
Epilogue: Can someone tell me what the heck that was all about? Is it a cultural thing? Maybe in some cultures a woman would rather sit with a total stranger, ignoring a few dozen solitary seating opportunities, but opt not to speak? Anyone? Bueller? Bueller? Bueller?
It reminded of a time when I was living in California. I went to Rancho San Antonio, a nice family park. Miles of hiking in the foothills and eventually connects to that whole Montebello area and then Skyline and over that mountain range, the ocean.
I had tried to run up a steep dry hill, covered with that amber grass you’ll see in the Bay Area most of the year. There’s a water tower or something fenced in at the top with paths leading to the left and right along the fence. So I trudged to the top to check out the view of the Peninsula and the southernmost reaches of the San Francisco Bay. Mountain View, Sunnyvale, Palo Alto and across the water, Milpitas, Fremont and the East Bay foothills and mountains. I sat down at the top of the path to catch my breath and take in the view.
A bobcat came out of nowhere and sat down about 4 feet to the left of me. I looked at it. It looked at me. We both looked off into the distance. Fifteen minutes later I got up to leave. Bobcat looked at me then went back to thinking about whatever good bobcats think about.
So maybe that woman was a bobcat. Or Bobcat, the animal spirit. They both said the same thing. I really need to listen.
Currently reading :
By Walter Mosley
Release date: By 03 January, 2006
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