„Are you eating alone?“, the waiter asks as I walk into the restaurant.
He shows me a small table directly at the Running Sushi bar.
Actually, I am not very keen on eating alone. When there are people around me eating with friends or work mates, I feel stupid sitting all by myself. While they can have a nice chat and a good laugh, I check my mails or google something with my mobile, just to look busy.
But that is not the case here at Running Sushi. My loneliness is less apparent here, face-to-face with those two-storied food conveyor belts. Also, here I can focus on something else than my mobile for a change.
The moving food in front calms me in a weird way. I feel like the food will never stop coming around, no matter how much time I take to enjoy it. I start with a tiny plate of spring rolls, dip them in soy sauce. Mhm! I let Sushis and Makis pass and snatch the plates with fried duck – my favorite. Unfortunetley the amount of plates serving duck are very limited compared to other meals.
There is a small message between the pieces of duck meat on the next plate.
Aren’t you scared of getting webs between your toes?
A grinning smiley next to the message leaves no doubt it is meant as a joke.
I am taking a look around. Who is this message from? Definitley not from the flirting couple to my right. The father and son to my left talk about homework, so I guess they are not behind this either. It is lunch time and every spot at the Sushi bar is taken. It could be each and everyone around here. But actually it doesn’t matter who the message is from. The far more interesting question is: What am I supposed to answer?
The most obvious answer would be: I am not a duck, so, no. But that wouldn’t be fun, right? And it would most likely end the conversation alltogether. What if it turns out that the messenger is a cute guy who tries to be flirty with me? I shouldn’t be boring. I need to play his game.
I write my answer with a grin: Hm, now that you mention it, I think I feel it tickling between my toes.
I draw a smiley next to my answer and send the plate off again, after eating the duck, of course.
I try to see who takes the plate but it is out of sight way too quickly. Other plates of food keep passing in front of me. The plate with the message is not returning. So the guy must have gotten it, right?
With every minute that passes, it gets less likely to receive another message. I am disappointed. I was hoping for some more funny banter.
„The bill please“, I say to the waiter who just passed me.
He nods and walks on.
As I fumble for my purse in my handbag I look up for just a moment. An empty plate with a piece of paper passes me. I try to grab it but I am too slow. I jump up and squeeze myself between the father and the son who sit at the table next to me.
„Hey!”, the father complains.
„Sorry, I just …” I stretch over the table and get the note from the plate. „Sorry”, I say again and sit back down at my table.
This time it is not a message, it is a scribble. It makes me laugh. The drawing is pretty bad. I guess that poor animal is supposed to be a duck. But I only recognize it because of the speech bubble next to it, saying quack.
„That’s 18.50.” A voice says next to me.
I turn my head, startled.
The waiter is standing there with a big black wallet in his hands.
„Oh, sorry. Yeah.” I hand him twenty. “You can keep the rest.”
„Thank you, madam. Have a nice day.”
I nod and turn back to the scribble. I flip it and write: Are you going to be here again anytime soon?
This time the answer is not taking that long. I come here every monday, just like you.
Part of me wants to jump up and leave. Fast. But a bigger part of me wants to confront my stalker. I get up and go to the toilets in the back of the restaurant, thereby passing the other guests. I am skimming the room for a familiar face. If he has noticed that I come here every monday, I most likely have seen him before as well.
But as I reach the toilet door I still haven’t recognize anyone. Damn it. I push the door to the washing room open and stay there to calm down. It makes me feel stupid, that he knows me. How could I not notice him? How could I be so blind? So stupid, to think a stranger is flirting with me? The flush announces a lady coming out of a cabin before she does.
„Hello Darling.” My former English teacher steps up to the basin and grins at me through the mirror. “You didn’t expect me. Did you?”
„No, definitely not.”
„You have always been a little dense”, she says and eyes me from head to toe. “And chubby.”
„Thanks”, I answer with a tone of sarcasm.
„You should be a bit more aware of your surroundings, kid. You are missing your own life.”
She leans against the sink and looks at me. „What’s the name of the waiter?”
„Didn’t ask him.”
„You don’t have to. He has a name tag.”
Never noticed. My cluelessness must be all over my face. Misses Clarkson grins knowingly. „See?” She passes me and walks out the door.
Oh, I hate it when she does that. She always does that – walking away with the answer, the question still lingering in the room. I feel like in sixth grade again as I chase after her in the hallway.
She turns around as I touch her shoulder. Her eyebrows are raised. It is all part of her game.
„Why won’t you just tell me.”
„Tell you what?”, Misses Clarkson asks.
„The waiters name.”
„You could just take a look, I am sure he is around.”
„I know I could, but I am asking you.” It is a challenge. I like challenging her, always did.
She smiles. „Why don’t you eat with me next monday and find out yourself?”
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