Upon Being Stood Up

Why would I wait for you? Why waste my valuable time? Because you are worth more to me than I am. I am no longer hungry and I have no reason to wait here alone. The waitress smiles warmly. I suppose I am not physically alone, but always mentally alone. Perhaps that is what I'm looking for with every glance at the front door, scrutinizing every person who dares to open the door and not be you. My mind tells me you are with another, enjoying yourself more, pitying the lone drinkers at the bar, laughing about an old joke. My heart reassures my mind that while this may be the case, you still wish to be with me, perhaps at a more convenient time. The dinner I order has arrived and I have no urge to eat it. My head hurts from too many cigarettes. I order a drink. Maybe I'll feel better. I chew my food without gusto. I let the bartender out of the conversation. The food angers my agitated belly.

The drink tastes terrible. Is it me or the drink, I cannot tell. I motion the bartender, he gives me the 'one minute' signal. I nod obligingly. I hear the door. It is not you. I want to punch the man and woman. The bartender apologizes, I keep the drink anyway. Perhaps the taste will enforce discretion. I continue annoying my stomach with the food, and sipping my bad drink. Happy drunk people occupy the next booth. They try sushi for the first time, satiated and repulsed at the same time. A chunk of ginger offends my mouth and I spit it out. I catch a guy in the next booth stuffing a whole tuna roll in his mouth. A half smile. I complain again about the drink, I don't have to pay. The happy folks complain about the music. A mysterious fortune:

"Sometimes even love shows a rerun."

I tip the waitress generously and tell myself one more smoke. I am disappointed, but incapable of being angry. I see it as more of a reflection on me, that you just do not enjoy my company enough to go out of your way to get it. I am still afraid to go to the restroom for fear you will stop in, not see me, and leave like every romantic comedy at the videostore. "You've lost that lovin' feelin" plays on the radio instead of the Asian standards. The neighboring table has won. "Something beautiful is dying..." Something beautiful died long ago, beaten by too many cruelties, too much time alone in the dark.

"How long is a day in the dark? Or a week?"1

I put out my cigarette, acknowledge my headache, assemble my things, and go to another place where you are not.

1The English Patient Director: Anthony Mighella, Writer: Michael Ondaatje, Screenplay: Anthony Minghella. Miramax Films, 1996.