Date Night

“Please don’t make a scene. Please don’t make a scene.”
-waitress at Easystreet Cafe

In the restaurant at the corner of the square, he takes a seat at a table for two, rose in one hand, ring box in the other. He holds them in front of him at chest level like ritualistic offerings and gazes out into the middle distance.

Wide-eyed, borderline dilated, he sits with a statuesque posture in a perfectly ironed napkin white shirt. Clean shave, crisp collar. Gelled hair, possibly plastered. No movement. Not a twitch, not a blink.

The stillness rings the serving staff’s ears.

Thirty nine minutes pass. Condensation builds on a worried glass of water. He’s sucked down half of it. One full hour. Beads of sweat bloom and coalesce on the glass of his forehead, an army of choking fish sliding into a shiny film. Hair product drips down to his cheekbones. Each glass bead reflects light from the lone lamp above and streaks downslope to the tip of his stoic nose as if the hot shine paws at his face. Two hours. The curled sweat soaked collar of his shirt. The heat of his chest, the cold of his toes and fingertips. Urge to pick at shirt cuffs, pick at ear lobes, scratch his neck, to wipe himself away with cheap thin napkins. So many sighs shake his Adam’s apple that his throat dries. The skin of his face drags down. Countless more minutes stare blankly into the middle distance.

Shrunken-pupiled, this man exhales stale air and slowly the rose hand drifts to his dry mouth. Soon enough, rose meets open mouth, teeth passionately gnashing at petals, ring box drops to the floor, waitresses gawking, whispering, and appalled as he stares into the middle distance.