My pocket begins vibrating, sending a surprise chill up my leg and through my torso. I slide the phone out of my jeans and look to the caller ID. It reads ‘Dad.’
“Sounds like you’re at a party,” he says.
“No, I’m at dinner.”
“Yeah?” he says. “On a date?”
“No, I’m eating sushi alone.”
“Bummer,” he replies.
It isn’t all that surprising a response. In most parts of the country, I guess it would be a bummer. It’s certainly a bummer for a guy who spends hours on the Indiana Interstate system, shuttling between municipalities by day, and hustling home to his wife on the nights he’s not stuck at a Holiday Inn Express.
For me, though, it’s not so bad. In fact, it’s something of a pleasure to sit quietly with a tall glass of Sapporo, a plate of shumi, a Crazy Horse roll, and a recent copy of Esquire Magazine. Yes, it’s a little lonesome, and maybe even a little bit pathetic. But there’s a function of independence, of autonomy that I really enjoy. I’m a man reading a men’s magazine with a beer in the City in public impervious to the glances shot my way.
“He’s eating alone?” they whisper. “Bummer.”
Walking towards home on 58th Street with a nice little 20 oz. buzz, I keep expecting someone to clobber me from behind. I expect some nameless, faceless hoodlum to tackle me, run off with my bag (joke being on them, of course: all that’s in it is the aforementioned Esquire, a clipboard, and my beloved To Do folder), leaving me crumpled on the sidewalk.
I pass the corner deli with its rows upon rows of cut flowers. You know, I have a vase on my kitchen table that I keep stocked in cheap, but colorful flowers (never carnation, of course).
I check my mail (nothing), climb four flights to my apartment, drop my bag, and fire up my G4. ‘What on earth do I have left to say?’ I ask myself. ‘My life is an open book. They know everything. And some days are just plain unremarkable.’
End of chapter. Turn the page.