I don’t know this man across the table but if we’re dating, I’m a reasonably lucky woman, depending on my age, my looks. I don’t know much. A plate of eggs and bacon before him, scrambled soft, I believe they call it and nearby, toast in uneven stacks, so the meal is underway. Is this breakfast? Poised before me a spoon of hot soup spells out LTOS and maybe an E under the carrot, which only confuses the issue. This might be lunch. He mentions people I don’t know, but casually, not waiting for me to recognize or reply. The waitress comes with coffee and fills his cup, so he’s a coffee drinker, and so am I, I see, she gives me decaf. There’s bacon on a little plate for me; it can’t have come with soup: he shares! He shares with me and looks at me with, is that love? It’s certainly close attention. I stop him talking by placing a hand on his. His looks at me with—the waitress is back. He clearly likes her and uses her name, but keeps a careful eye on me. I look at and withdraw my withered hand and see it for the first time. A customer walks by whistling a song I strain to recognize. I notice I’m holding that spoonful of soup and return it to the bowl and as the letters swim to rejoin the alphabet the lyrics form in my head like learning to read: Nearer my God to Thee. It must be Josephson coming to lunch from church and whistling his hymns. Of course, and this is the diner down the street and this reasonably charming boy is my dear second son who doesn’t work but buys me lunch and is showing me some investments.

Copyright © November 10, 2007 David Hodges

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