People Who Take Forever to Order Food
A small problem hardly worth mentioning yet here we are
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Yesterday I went to get toast with T. We went to the toast place. The toast place has a straightforward menu involving items piled on toast. There’s salmon toast that’s like a salmon bagel. Pickled onions make it modern. There’s toast with ricotta and microgreens which, if you don’t know what they are you can probably figure out: micro = small, greens=greens. There’s also just toast toast.
We got into line behind two parties and after twenty seconds of studying the menu I decided I either wanted toast with butter or toast with cheese and jam and would know when the moment came to order. T asked if he should get the salmon toast or the banh mi toast, I said salmon because I thought the banh mi was too expensive, not that I was paying as I had conveniently left my wallet at home.
I mulled over my toast choices and my leaving-my-wallet at home practice — honest mistake? something else? — until it occurred to me that we’d been standing there for a while. The pot grower/Bitcoin hundredthousandaire couple ordering when we got in line had finished up ages ago. But the father and middle-grade son (I’m assuming this relationship) behind them and in front of us were still ordering and seemed in danger of doing so forever.
The woman taking orders held up a container. “It’s basically this size,” she told them. “The other one is like this.” She showed them a different container.
The young boy looked at the containers, then looked at his dad, then back at the containers and back at his dad. The woman taking orders put the containers back on stacks of them and returned to the pair. Now I heard the father’s voice, though I couldn’t make out what he was saying. The woman taking orders was 23 or 25, and smiled and nodded as he spoke. On her days off, she probably went white water kayaking. “Well, I mean, depending on what you want,” she said, “We can put on a little or a lot…or we can put on none?” Her smile, powered by hope, intensified.
Father and son looked at each other but could not come to agreement on whether they wanted the item in question in great quantities or small ones or not at all so they formulated yet another question.
The previously short line was now out the door.
I tried to disengage and think of other things, like whether or not it was actually going to rain next weekend as it really had not managed to this weekend, whether I should make beet salad or borscht or soup out of all the billions of beets I had, and then, finally, how terribly lucky I was to be at an expensive toast store with a handsome man and his wallet, though the last thought was mostly present in hopes of counteracting the thought I ultimately could not suppress which was “What the fuck.”
T looked at me. “What the fuck,” he said.
“We could totally do that with the other cheese,” the woman taking orders was saying. She seemed as cheerful as she had when this all began, years ago. “We can also …” I didn’t catch the rest of it. I had no choice but to study more carefully adult and child. He was late 30s, in jeans, a nice zip sweatshirt and wavy light hair under a blue canvas baseball cap. The son had long hair the same color. He was, I don’t know, wearing kid clothes. Having sized them up, all opportunities to entertain myself were now exhausted.
It finally ended. A conservative estimate of how long it took them to order two pieces of toast and two drinks is seven minutes, or about one minute and forty five seconds per item. She asked for a name for the order. The dad’s name was — well, I can’t tell you what it was because this is a small town. Let’s just say that if we were in England it would be St. John, and let’s just say that I snorted loudly and said “Unbelievable,” also loudly.
They were seated right behind us. T could see them. I couldn’t. He whispered to me, “That guy is reading a book of poetry.”
“Jesus Christ,” I said. “What is it? Is it Mary Oliver? He’s like, “I will spend my one wild and precious life ordering toast and modeling for my son that toast ordering is a lengthy process during which other people and their needs miraculously disappear?””
T couldn’t tell what it was. It was dog-eared, he said, and the cover was missing.
When I texted T today to ask if he noticed anything else, he said that the guy’s calves were “muscular,” and that his socks were “a playful riot of color.”