How do you measure your universe?

a piece of baklava
Fraught with pistachios.

We went to a sushi place to celebrate our anniversary. The man at one end of the sushi bar spilled his first bottle of beer. Then he spilled his soup. He was a regular so it was okay. The couple on the other side of us were regulars, too. They had jokes with the sushi chef about how the woman liked everything burning hot and the man didn’t. Also about some other regular they all know, who can’t come in because apparently he’s given birth to four kids in three years. We tried not to listen but also we didn’t want to be unfriendly. We compromised with vacant smiles and spoke our real conversation in undertones.

Then we wanted ice cream and stopped at a Baskin Robbins, but it was next door to a baklava shop, and the shop owner was sitting outside waiting for customers. He said hi, and we went in there instead. He described the contents of every tray of baklava. He said they use sugar and water instead of honey. This makes the baklava weigh less so you get more for a pound. He said this as a selling point. Also, you get a free beverage of any kind from the cooler. A premium beverage — Tropicana, Naked, Red Bull. When we made our purchase, he urged us to take a bottle, any bottle. It made me uncomfortable, just taking one, and I shook my head.

“They’re not expired,” he said, offended. “Everyone thinks they’re expired, but they’re not. It’s just something I do to bring the customers back.”

Dave took a water, even though he is philosophically against bottled water. It was the cheapest thing. The man added, “And if you can give me a review on Yelp it would be great. Please come back, okay?” Oh world, I can’t hold you up all by myself.

Friday Good

20110422-101049.jpg
I'll drink to that.

Two more days and I can drink again. Not that I couldn’t drink before. Actually I’ve had several drinks throughout Lent this year. First time in a long time for that. Don’t know why in previous years it didn’t bother me when people asked, “Why do you give something up?” And I didn’t have a definite answer. “It’s sort of a ritual.” “I always learn something.” “Er…”

But this year the steam just went out of me. Maybe laziness. Maybe because no one else I know is doing it. Maybe my faith is changing. I did keep my fast but the rules were more convoluted. If it feels in the slightest bit socially awkward not to drink, go for it. So I wasn’t allowed one at home, after a hard day, hanging out with Dave. But if we were out for dinner with friends, bring on the gin and tonics. Not that they would have cared, but clearly I did.

So this year I guess I didn’t give up booze, I gave up staunchness of purpose. I guess God wanted me to learn something about presumed expectations. He’s huge on that.

I Hope X Doesn’t Lose His Job

cabinet door
Not an exit.

This morning I went down to get my juice and coffee, and X (not his real name) and Dave had already finished jacking up the floor. Dave was showing X how to use his somewhat complicated travel mug, which must be 10 years old by now. X hugged me as I came in, and started dancing me around. I was self-conscious about my morning breath and overplayed my sleepy incoordination. X told me to work on my dancing.

I got out my OJ and my glass and offered him some, which he accepted, grabbing a big water glass. As I poured it he said, “That raspberry vodka with OJ was fantastic,” referring to the other night when we served it to him and some other friends. “I should have some now,” he joked.

I joked back, “You should.” X was on his way to a meeting with a prospective client, and then a stint at a nonprofit where he freelances. X repeated his comment about the fantastic cocktail and Dave, who hadn’t heard the earlier exchange, joked, “Want some now?”

“I should,” said X, “They’re all doing it. My boss is always wasted, you can smell it on him.” Ha ha ha, Dave prepped coffee and I got out Django’s food bowl. “Maybe I’ll take a little,” X added.

“What?”

“Just to see how it feels.” X stood in the dining room staring at the buffet where the raspberry vodka used to be. Dave got the bottle out of the cabinet and handed it to him, still thinking he wasn’t serious. “Just a little,” said X, unscrewing the top.

But X hardly ever drinks, and he doesn’t know what a little is. He poured in more than a little and I said, “That’s enough!”

He said, “Is it?” and tasted it. Dave said, “Vodka is the liquor of choice if you’re going to be a daytime drinker. It’s virtually odorless.”

I snapped, “I can smell it.”

X’s face grew concerned and he stopped chugging for a second. “Really?”

I felt sorry for him and backpedalled. “I think I smell the raspberry.”

“What if people smell it on me?”

“Tell them you had orange-raspberry juice.”

“Yeah, I can say I had orange-cranberry juice.”

Jesus, he’s high already. “It doesn’t smell like cranberry!”

“Just eat a banana,” said Dave, handing him one from the bowl.

“Thanks,” said X, “I better go.” And he opened a kitchen cabinet and pretended to walk through it. “Oops,” he said as we cracked up. Then he closed the back door and tried to exit through the hinge side. “Oh, I’ll just go…”

I handed him a granola bar. “Mm, chew bar,” he said.

“Chewbarka,” I noted, which was acceptable because I still hadn’t had my coffee.

“Maybe you better go out the front door,” said Dave.

“Ah,” said X, “close to train,” and he wavered his way out of the kitchen, making sure to bump his forehead into the dining room doorway.

“’Bye, X,” I said, still laughing, and continued prepping Django’s food as Dave led him out. It will be really funny until someone smells it on him and doesn’t get the joke.