It was a rainy day, the sky was gray, the traffic was wet as it zipped by the Cafe Sanchos on Brickle Street.
“I hope you choke on your lunch.”
“Why would you say something like that?”
“Because you’re a mean person who doesn’t deserve to live.”
“I’m a realist and a cynic.”
“I’ve noticed … do you mind if I take one of your slices of lemon for my water?”
“I do. Get your own damn lemons.”
She snapped her fingers at the waiter as if he were some kind of farm animal.
“I would like you to bring me some sliced lemons, but please be certain there are no seeds. I hate the seeds. They get into the water, float to the bottom and clog up my straw …. or worse yet, go down my throat and cause me to choke. Can you do that? No seeds.”
I watched as the waiter rolled his eyes inside his brain and cursed her out.
“That wasn’t very nice of you,” I said to her as I nibbled on a cracker.
She acted so damn surprised.
“You were a real bitch to that waiter.”
“What are you talking about?”
“You were rude about the lemons.”
“Don’t be ridiculous. He’s a waiter. That’s his job. He’s paid to serve me. He doesn’t deserve to be treated nicely.”
“I think you should apologize.”
“I will do no such thing.”
That was when the waiter came by and roughly plopped down a plate of lemon slices before her. She held glasses to her face and looked at them.
“Oh hold on now,” she began to point out to him. “I’m sure I made it perfectly clear that there were to be no seeds in these lemon slices, and there, plain as day, I see a seed.”
I held a hand over my face.
The waiter feigned a smile and all along I knew he just wanted to throttle her.
“My mistake mam, I must have missed one.”
“Well, don’t expect a tip,” she snapped.
The waiter snatched the plate away and walked back toward the kitchen.
“See, he’s pissed off now. He’ll probably spit in our food, well, your food at least.”
“They can’t do that. It’s against the law.”
“Who’s going to stop him?”
She shifted uncomfortably.
“Why can’t you just drink your water the way it is?”
“I can taste the fish in it and I don’t like that.”
“No you can’t.”
“Yes, I can!”
The waiter returned with a fresh plate of lemon slices and set them before her.
“Your lemon slices, mam. No seeds. I double checked myself.”
She bent her face over the plate and looked at it carefully.
“Looks OK,” she said. “Is our food almost ready?”
“It will be out shortly,” the waiter said, and he bowed his head a bit and trotted off.
“See, you did it again.”
“You were rude.”
I took a deep breath and said what I wanted to say the whole time.
“I’m afraid this will be the last time we will be coming to Sancho’s.”
She half-smiled and looked at me.
“What are you talking about. This is our place. We come here all the time … although some times I wonder why.”
“I don’t want to see you anymore.”
Her thoughts stopped dead in their tracks.
“Well, to be perfectly honest with you, you’re just a mean person and I really don’t like you.”
“How could you say something like that to me … you bastard!”
She threw her cloth napkin onto to the table top and began to cry, dabbing at her eyes with her knuckle points.
“How can I say something like that? Because it’s true, honey. You’re just plain mean and I’ll be damned if I want to spend the rest of my life with someone like you. Now, can I have the ring back?”
She sneered at me.
“You want your ring!? Fine! Go chase after it.”
She yanked the ring off her finger, stood up and tossed it high over the hedge that wrapped around the covered patio. It went into the traffic somewhere on the other side.
“What the hell did you do that for!?” I yelled. “Do you have any idea how much I paid for that thing!? What a waste of money!”
“Is that all you care about!?” she snapped.
“Well, right about now, yes!”
I looked around and realized there were other patrons staring at us. I was embarrassed.
“I’m leaving. Goodbye forever.” I said to her.
“But, what about our food? Aren’t you going to eat? Can’t we talk about this?”
“No. It’s over. I’m going to look for the ring. Good luck with your life.”
I got up and walked away just as the waiter emerged from beyond with a tray of food. It was our food. It smelled of urine.