I don’t eavesdrop. I have this thing that you’re in a bubble of privacy when you’re out, and it encompasses you and them what come with you in a shell of diplomatic removal, not quite aloof, but apart, somehow. I like my privacy, and I give everybody theirs, unless they’re shouting into cell phones or talking loud to impress bystanders-and-sitters with their importance, or just don’t seem to care WHAT falls into their conversation amongst strangers. Then I unabashedly listen and think my thoughts, and perhaps whisper a discreet comment to Chris, or store up the scenario for later conjecture.
On our Anniversary, we sat next to two young thirtyish women who’d been college roommates---one was in town on business, and had met her friend for dinner to catch up on old times.
Joel I’ll-Be-Your-Server-This-Evening was a runner---one of those skip here and there, appear at your shoulder and deftly set down things, anticipate the next need like magic that speaks of dedication to your work. The ladies didn’t order dinner, but re-ordered bread twice, and he refilled their water a several times. Couldn’t help but notice, for though they were not exactly IN my lap, they were certainly close as the next diner at any Thanksgiving---well within conversation range with both of us, and could have encompassed Aunt Gertie down by the devilled eggs without talking loud.
I mean, it was CLOSE---we were right on the end next to a pillar, and the waiter had swung our table out, making a small diamond of it, with a point toward the banquette, so that Chris could squeeze in. That maneuver involved turning his back to the ladies, sorta shuffling left til he could bend a little and curve around the corner, now dangerously centered between, and presenting his rump for a moment within inches of their bread-plates and water glasses.
Meanwhile, I’m standing in the aisle, trying to avoid a table-point of my own, and squeezed around chair, making way for tray-lifted flitting waiters and lines of diners being led in to the tables beyond.
The young women munched and laughed and ordered more water, and “just a little more of that dark bread” extending to several baskets replaced and whisked away for more. Our waiter was just the nicest young man, giving cheerful and helpful and solicitude in equal measure, trip after trip back and forth.
“This will be my dinner,” one said. “He and the kids can find something before I get home.”
“Mine, too,” the other said. “I’m just not hungry enough to order anything. I have to save room for that cheesecake.”
Finally came the dessert decision. They debated the merits and delights of every single item on that big folio, from likes to dislikes to calorie counts to carbs to remember whens, and finally decided on one---a $6.95 slice of some chocolate thing, with two plates and two forks. And when it came, they asked the waiter to bring a sharp knife, so they could divide it into two equal slices, explaining for his trouble, “We both like the crust end.”
When we’d ordered, eaten, had dessert, finished and extricated ourselves from that intricate Jenga of tabletops, they were still chatting over “more of that brown bread.”
Some inquisitive mote in my nature REALLY wanted to see the tip they left for such an evening’s constant munching and entertainment. But of course, I don’t eavesdrop. Wouldn’t think of it; we'd all but broken bread together.