The bento box contents sweated on the glass bar in front of me. Safe in their confines, I poked at a piece of yellowtail sashimi with the point of my chopsticks. I was trying to think of my favorite shape. The push and pull glass door of the restaurant was propped open because the air-con had hit the fritz. The three Sushi chefs were working madly behind the bar because the management had just proclaimed a “Hot Hour”. Every shot of sake came with a filled bento box. Roll and five pieces chef choice.
I was already drunk and wooning heat, but I couldn’t pass the deal. The restaurants real happy hour was starting, so droves of folks hoping to catch the cheap sushi and booze action were filing in. My chef had placed the filled bento box over the glass bar and asked me nicely for free if I would move to the faux granite bar with the liquor. I stuffed a double sawbuck in between the panes of glass and pointed up in the air as I nodded to him.
”I’ll send you some oysters. Okay?” He smiled.
When I sat at the bar, a big Sapporo was waiting for me. I placed the wood box on the counter and could see the Hamachi, Bachi Maguro Toro, Unagi, Hon Maguro Ohtoro and Akagi sitting in their neat row. It wasn’t appetizing because I was full, but my mind forced me to eat the pieces with delight and the small maki roll too. Little glass of Masumi pops up. I swallow it down.
No biggie. Cubs lose. I’m gonna get already been.
My life was sighing with a tremble of anxiety. After years of folding into myself, I was opening up to a lover and a potential family. I was thinking more about my future than the past and every moment I lived felt like. I guess it felt like an easy moment in the eye of a storm, when you can rest and take a deep breathe and your second wind rolls in. Felt like that okay but the lingering effects of the tremble steam roll over and out. Then the oysters showed up.
”Never eat oysters in months that don’t end in ‘r’”. They say.
This is August and the Northern Pacific is usually cold and I know some cats from B.C. that were pals of mine in Laos and told me to eat some farm raised kumomotos which were right in front of me. These oysters are small and have deep tops. They are as sweet as tears. Six in front of me, covered in daikon and some drips sat on a pile of nut rock sea salt all chipped off a rock and soaked in seaweed. I tipped the first and sucked it down. New Sapporo gulp. Next. Another. Cute Adopted Korean bartender wearing big black boots.
”I’ll trade you another round for an oyster.” She says.
”I’m not playing cards, but help yerself.” I say, gobbling another.
”Sure?” She asks and I realize she is serious. I nod my head like a tilt and she takes a pepper shaker from behind the bar and sprinkles some over the deep before alive rock.
”Mmmm.” she swallows. I am happy for her and tell her to take another round with my next oyster bento box okay.
When I get my tab, I feel like a dandelion. Thirty-five bucks. I tip twice.
I stumble into the humid city and light a staggered smoke. I am so full and drunk. I think about my autistic nephew laying in front of the open Fridge on the slate floor trying to soak the lingering cool and when he shoves chopsticks down his pants to the appal of other guests. I think of my niece and her petite bouquet of similarities to me. I showed them each a dandelion once. I gave each one billowing seeds. My nephew blew and then tried vainly to catch the errant floaters of good luck. My niece took the fluffy seed cloud and promptly put it in her mouth. Then she coughed them out smiling and spitting.
”Uncle Bob, it’s okay, these seeds scratch my throat too.” She said through her eyelashes.
She is two and a half and every bit of me. I fear for her. She asked my minimalist friend, Pat at a picnic yesterday, what his favorite shape was, and said circle just before he said it. My sister and I laughed and asked Pat to ask my niece his favorite color and she would guess it.
”What’s my favorite color, Carrie?” My minimalist rich friend Pat asked my little niece.
”Ummm, Gween?” She said all.
Pat looked at me and said that she was right and he was happy as unusual. My sister and I looked at one another while my niece was proud. Every square is a window to her.
Life drifts me back to shore all the time, no matter how I try to swim deep. Floating, I remorse to sink and fade with the tide until I remaim with wet sand stick tomorrow. Walk over bridges and think about not jumping the boulevards into the gutters.