4/16/2010
New York cut

After watching reality show contestants gorge on grilled shrimp as reward, I felt like having steak for lunch.

It was probably a subliminal thing, because unlike most days, I never spent five minutes in front of my computer thinking about where to eat. It was all just, "okay, we'll go here," and that was from the moment I stepped into the mall. It wasn't a swanky restaurant; it was a stall in a food court, although it was legitimate steak, and it cost quite more than my usual lunch budget.

"Mini New York cut," I said. "Medium rare. Rice. Pineapple juice."

There weren't that many people in line. In fact, it was just me and this lady, I figure around her mid-20s, although I was never good with that. To me, she looked half-bohemian, I don't know what it actually means, but I always associated it with a laid-back lifestyle, a laid-back demeanor. She was wearing this white top with lace straps. There was a huge pair of shades clipped in the middle. She was wearing jeans and flip-flops. (Flip-flops? I prefer slippers.)

She looked just fine, maybe a more chiseled Bianca King. And she had Sue Sylvester hair. She looks like the sort who likes losing herself in a book, perhaps a book by some author I wouldn't know, because I'm pathetic with books despite being a writer. Silent afternoons at the beach. Rare days out with her friends. Maybe coffee, free wi-fi. Not the sort I'd infiltrate easily. But she was buying steak. She was having steak for lunch. I don't know if it is a New York cut too. I can't tell. Oddly.

It's funny how my thought process works. A romantic steak lunch! The last time I went to that food court I was seated, alone, in a table that's supposed to seat six. A guy who ran out of tables asked me if he could sit where I am. I obliged. We were both eating sisig that day, albeit from different establishments.

It was past one, but the place was still packed, and she'd find a table and I wouldn't, and since she's alone, and she's probably the only option I had left, I'll probably come up to her and ask, "can I sit here?" And she'd nod, and I'd nod back, and I'll take my seat and wonder why I prefer my steaks medium rare when they're pretty hard to slice, especially with a blunt knife.

And then we'd talk. Steaks, naturally. At this point I'm thinking, "wow, this is the start of something wonderful," even if the conversation would end at that table in the food court. No introductions. No phone numbers changing hands. Just, you know, friendly conversation, the sort you do with strangers on the bus on a particularly boring day when you're feeling nice.

But that doesn't happen anymore. With the guy eating sisig, we ate in silence. The same will go with this girl. I realize this as I watch the lady behind the counter pour gravy on the girl's steak, the sizzling plate kicking in. She leaves. I take my cue to move to the right, since my order's coming next. My eyes followed her as she walked to an empty table. It wasn't the only one. I was relieved.

It's not funny how my thought process works. It's sad. I'm sad.

I ended up eating in another one of those tables for six. A woman, pudgy and bespectacled, came up to me. "Can I sit?" she'd ask, and I'd nod, and she'd nod back, and I watch her not eat the crust of her pizza while I struggle slicing my medium rare steak with a blunt knife. It took me thirty minutes to eat, an unusually long time.

I passed by the girl again as I returned to the office. She's still having lunch. She's with someone now. Her mother, I think. She pretty conservative, the complete opposite, but she also has Sue Sylvester hair.

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