Issue 200, Spring 2012
I once dated a girl who, when faced with restaurant toast, would take only one bite of each of her four restaurant-toast halves. She said she didn’t want any of the restaurant-toast halves to feel neglected. “You’re a very nice girl,” I told her. She thanked me, then complained about the ice cubes in her orange juice.
She had this other habit, too, of putting on ChapStick before drinking her coffee. The first time I noticed it was at the zoo near the giraffes, after we patronized the Perky Bean cart in the Wild Time Food Court. She told me she does it because she likes the greasy feel of the ChapStick on her lips with the warm coffee going in. She said, “I like it so much that one time I left my coffee on the porch to go get my ChapStick out of my bag, and while I was inside I got a phone call from my mom that lasted for like twenty minutes. When I finally remembered about the coffee, all these ants had drowned themselves in it, but I drank it anyway.”
I looked her up and down and up again, and then at a trash can, and then at a yellow jacket flying messy figure eights above the trash can. After a while the yellow jacket started hovering over a piece of what I think was chewed-up gum stuck in the ashtray on top of the can, almost landed, then zipped off to someplace else.
“You drank ants,” I said.
“Did they taste like anything?”
“Yes,” she said. “Like coffee.”
I nodded at her, then together we turned and sipped our coffees and watched the giraffes chew leaves. Later, we watched an otter jerk off.