This might become my new thing. I could become “That lady who sits in the Chinese restaurant off Exit 37 on the Long Island Expressway on Friday night drinking Manhattans”. Of course, I’d rather be “That lady who writes those books that all of America loves” but the ways things are going I’ll probably need a Plan B and sitting in the Chinese restaurant off Exit 37 knocking back Manhattans on Friday nights looks like as good an alternative as any.
So last Friday night I went to the Chinese restaurant off Exit 37 (from now on called “The Scene”)
I noticed that there was a guy sitting at one of the three tables in the bar of this Chicese restaurant, a paunchy middle aged guy, with two drinks on the table in front of him. Looked like he was waiting for someone. And moments later, when she arrived, she looked like the kind of girl who meets a guy for drinks on a Friday night at a Chinese restaurant at an exit of the L.I.E. She was wearing a tired-looking leather jacket, had fluffy layered hair, and was carrying a large, baggy, leather purse that had lots of shiny metal bits decorating it. Not young, but not old. Looked like she’d come from work, looked like she worked in a used car dealership. I’m just guessing.
She picked up her drink and sipped it through the red straw that was tilted against the side of her glass. I always wonder about women who drink cocktails through a straw. Are they trying to be refined? Or what? The guy picked up his drink and took a small sip and set it down and leaned back in his seat, his arm resting on the back of his chair. He seemed interested in what the girl had to say, but he had a half-smile on his face. The venetian blinds behind him were letting in an interestingly fractured view of the night, slick with rain and shimmering with the line of headlights from the cars passing by. That old Don Henly song was playing in the background, “The Boys of Summer”.
I watched them drink and chat to each other, wondering if this was a date, or were they already half-way through their affair, or are they just friends; what were the circumstances, the long series of cause and effect, coincidence and misunderstandings, the history of failure and second chances that fill the life of any of us who end up in the bar of a Chinese restaurant at Exit 37 on the Long Island Expressway on a cold and rainy Friday night.
And then I heard her say, “That’ll keep him out of jail until December.”
Oh, great, I sighed to myself. That’s what’s going to make this moment one of those memories that I’ll never be able to get rid of. Like my mind isn’t already cluttered with too many superficial and haphazard remembrances, a guy, wearing a cloak, who I passed on the street in Dublin in 1985; some girl I saw in a paisley halter top at a Santana concert the day that Richard Nixon resigned, etc.
This means that I will not have any room for stuff I really should remember, like what the dentist said about that molar I’m worried about, or where my husband told me he hid the Krugerrands.
I’ve been humming “The Boys of Summer” now, for days.