Monday, February 12, 2007

Meat Hook pt. 5

The interior of the chinese restaurant was in a state of disarray. Immediately upon opening the glass door that had a peeling piece of paper that displayed Great Wall's hours was a tank of water. Once housing a menagerie of fish now was the abode of green algae, a single goldfish, and a scum sucker. The little deep sea diver was covered in the green goo that covered most of the tank.

"Two for lunch?" The asian woman dressed in a penguin suit of black pants and a white button up shirt said. No answer was needed as she led us to a little red vinyl booth. I took the seat facing the wall, Chelsea sat across from me so that she was facing the street. Behind me was a large window peered out into the street. One could see most of the pedestrians and street traffic if one ignored the fog of dust on the window, and the broken neon light that advertised an asian beer. Our waitress brought over two glasses of water and left two menus that had seen quite a bit of wear. Knowing already what to order I pushed my menu to the edge of the table between Chelsea and myself. Chelsea opened the menu and looked at it, fingering the rim of the glass while her eyes scanned a menu that she had gone over a dozen times before. We'd come here periodically after class for dinner. If we'd been up late at night well into the bottle we'd dine on cheap chinese the next day to rid ourselves of our hang overs. While she's looking at the menu I fidget nervously with the pair of chopsticks by the fork and knife. My dexterity with these tools is limited, I'm laughably white. I try to think of something to say but my mind comes up blank. Chelsea seems to be ignoring my immediate physical presence yet at the same time glaring at me through the menu. Our waitress came over and stood in front of us for a moment, relieving some of the tension, if only momentarily.

"Sesame tofu with broccoli, and uh, white rice please." I ordered.
"Sweet and sour tofu, brown rice." Chelsea said.

The waitress scribbled to hieroglyphics on her pad and walked into the kitchen. One of the reasons we frequented this place was that its service, particularly the food service was expedient. In less than 5 minutes we would have our deep fried blocks of flavored soy with steamed vegetables.

Chelsea brought her glass up to her lips, tilting the glass so that a trickle of water began to move into her mouth. My eyes were fastened onto the edge of the water glass. There was nothing particularly riveting about the glass itself, nor the fact that she was drinking water. How many times had I sat across her as she drank water, or booze, or any other liquid for that matter. What fascinated me was something else. In many ways I felt it was comparable to my fascination of the picture of the woman's glove in Andre Breton's Nadja. The glove is folded over in the novel, limp, unsatisfied without a living movement inside of it. It is at once dead, and waiting to be. Perhaps the glove is like the cup at this moment, Chelsea's hand slowly slips finger by finger into Nadja's glove like the water trickling into Chelsea's mouth. It is a moment of being.

Unsettled by this idea my eyes shift behind Chelsea. Its an old trick, to look at someone, when actually looking behind them. To them it appears that I am focusing on them when actually I'm looking beyond them. Its similar to the constant compliment that I get, that I'm a good listener. Really I'm not listening at all, I just am rather good at nodding at certain points in reassurance. Its the tone of the speaker's voice that prods me, like Pavlov's dog, to nod when the speaker seems to want reassurance of some sort. Most people want nothing to do with conversation, they would prefer the self created succor of a monologue in which they can air their griefs with the balm of a visibly content audience. I provide the spectator's body, and they provide their own self congratulations, their own tongue to lick their wounds, while the gentle indifference of the world washes over me.

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