Monday, January 18, 2010

Benediction, FL

The waiter kept forgetting the wine so I ordered a sidecar. He had to look up how to make it. He came back and recited the ingredients like a small, besotted prayer and asked, Am I right? I said yes because how would I know? I'd drunk it exactly four times, remembered only the bubbles bursting against the inside of my cheek.

It was a long table in Florida. No one I knew was there. At the concert hours earlier, someone in the audience had handed me a plastic bag of clementines, and now I was eating them them one by one under the table, sneaking off the peels. I had swordfish. I had raw salmon on a bed of seaweed. I rested my head on the table and, just for a minute, closed my eyes.

Across from me there was man with a silver necklace and too-blue eyes. Every morning he walked to the end of the pier to make sure the sun got up on time. He paid a dollar for the privilege. He'd once been a preacher. He wrote his own songs. His wife, the artist, had well-shaped ears a cap of copper hair. They told me marriage was hard.

I said yes. I had nothing left inside me to tell, so I said I was scared of flying. I have to hold the plane up with my mind. I hate when the sky shakes, disrupting the tenuous operations taking place at top speed in my skull. I drink tomato juice, always, and afterwards crunch the ice: this is part of the physics of how the plane stays aloft.

At the end of the night the man said he'd pray for me. The woman gripped my arms, looked deep into my eyes, and told me I was a treasure. Did I know that? I was a treasure. I said yes, because what else is there to say?

The thing that puzzles me is that I remember this. It's that I keep remembering, of all things, this.

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