I am so conflicted:
- Do I say hi?
- Do I pretend not to see them (but come on, really: the place is so small that would be like not noticing if a llama sauntered in)?
- Do I ignore them?
- Do I join them?
- Do I see if they want me to join them, but then if they do, maybe are they just being polite?
- If I do say hi and then we’re done saying hi, am I allowed to sit at the next (good, window) table? or would that be rude, like I was trying to eavesdrop?
Jean, Alexa: you gotta give me something better than this. How about one of you has a compulsive gambling problem! Yes! That’s it. But, oh, I know, let’s make it more respectable: stock trading. But you are buying really bad stocks that keep going lower and lower ....
Okay, now for the other one. Got it: your husband’s niece, whom you detest, has come to visit for three days, but now she's having some sort of deal where she, uh ... where am I going with this? where she just got kicked out of college (!) and now she's been staying as a guest with you for two weeks and you can’t take it anymore! Brilliant.
Jean sees me. “MOV! Hello!”
“Hi Jean, hi Alexa, great to see you, what’s new?”
We chat for a few minutes, and then there is the awkward time ... the exact thing I was worried about. They do not ask me to join them, and now I am stranded. Every table is within listening distance and we three are the only ones here. Wherever I sit, I will hear them and they will hear me (well, if I start talking to myself out loud, which—who knows—I just might, given the circumstances).
Should I tell the waitress I want my order to go? That’s dumb, the panna cotta comes in little crystal bowls, I hardly think they want me walking off with that.
I finally settle on going outside on the patio. Genius. It’s a sunny beautiful day, so who wouldn’t want to go out on the patio? Even if I'm sitting close to Jean and Alexa’s window (and really, is it their window? no—it belongs to Desserts of Decadence), I will not hear one peep of their conversation, I will have no idea what they're talking about, unless I spontaneously learn to lip-read (is that a hidden talent I possess? now might be a good time to find out).
I am *&%$@ freezing.
Here I am, trying to be a nice friend and sit away from them so that they don’t feel bad while they have their long drawn-out toasty conversation about her gambling problem and the other one’s bitchy niece, but it is, and I’m guessing here, approximately 31 degrees outside. It’s one of those rare fall afternoons that at first looks warm, but then is not bikini-weather after all. It is fur parka time (with mittens).
Alexa sees me through the glass, and I can tell she knows it’s cold. Now I have to fake it that it’s fine, warm even. Really, MOV, rudeness is looking appealing (read: warm) right now. I think eavesdropping should not be a prosecution-worthy crime if there is a weather issue involved.
Alexa taps on the glass (like I'm a puppy at the pet store?) and does that universal hands-up-to-the-crossed-arms-shaking motion: Brrrrrrrrr. Then she mouths, “Aren’t you cold?” (I guess I can lip-read after all). I shake my head no, no, uh-uh, good-naturedly, and then I smile a big (fake) smile. Then I mouth, “I love cold!”
Her face looks puzzled. She shrugs. (Maybe her lip-reading is not as advanced as mine and she thought I was mouthing, “I love you!” instead.)
Next I flip open my magazine, a highbrow literary masterpiece that is sure to impress Jean and Alexa, if they should happen to glance in my direction again (“Star” magazine), and a sudden gust of wind blows those annoying subscription cards into the air like postcard-sized dandelion spores. The waitress walks out with my panna cotta, and a card hits her in the cheek.
She laughs (really—what else can she do here?), and she sets down my dessert, the crystal bowl catching the sunlight and temporarily blinding me.
I hand her three crumpled dollars, and (desperately trying not to chatter my teeth) I say the only thing I can at this point: “Shannon, please bring me some coffee right away. Extra hot.”
("Mouthing Off Viciously")