August 31, 2010
So, I'm sitting in the bar at this restaurant.
I'm lovingly twirling my fork into a steamy, lemony, buttery, most delightfully angelic heap of angel hair–the creamy, makes-you-throw-your-head-back-with-glee kind of pasta that, I was thinking, should probably be forbidden for nuns, because, I swear, this pasta is far more decadent than the best sex you could think up. It! is! simply! that! good!
*wonders if it's normal to be in lust with your pasta*
*thinks about researching it*
*decides against it, because clearly it is possible. Eat, Pray, Love, hello.*
*determines that Italy must be next destination*
*also determines that chardonnay is, in fact, an excellent travel planning tool*
*cringes at thought of beautiful Italian man wearing excessively tight jeans*
*vows to go with it, if it means riding on the back of a vespa*
*wonders if he'll feed me pasta on the back of a vespa*
How is it that in a make believe fantasy that involves the country of Italy, tall, dark, mysteriously stubbly men, and the wonders of Limoncello, my thoughts zoom straight back to platefuls of boiled dough?
There I am, in all of my glorious gluttony, debating things that only the voice in MY head would debate, when in walks this couple–which is actually the real point of the story, despite my pasta-obsessed ramblings. (Is this what my college English professor meant when he said my writing was far too flowery?)
The couple that enters isn't just any couple, easily noted via the, errr… interesting choice of footwear the Mrs. is donning–a hot pink flip flop, complete with oversize matching hibiscus flowers adorning the thong–in addition to a matching hot pink sun hat, all serving to complement the lime green tee shirt that reads, “Oh crap! You're going to try and cheer me up, aren't you?”–in rhinestones, of course.
Someone got a hold of a Bedazzler, I muse to myself.
Despite her questionably loud attire, I look at her, and I look at her husband, who went a far more basic route with simple khakis and some tube socks, and there is something about them that just makes me happy.
“Are ya outta ya god damn mind?!” she says to him, in a tone that is half serious, half taunting–and 100% reminiscent of Fran Drescher's nanny days.
“What?!” he replies, flicking his hands backwards into the air. “You always like to sit on the right! Whatdya moanin' fohr?”
“Ye-ah,” she replies with playful condescension in her voice, “But not when it's right next ta an open door. Afta all these years, you'd think you'd know that I can't take a draft.”
“How the hell didja survive our wedding day?” he says. “There were doors open in the god damn church, you know.”
“Did you just curse the church?! Shame on you!”
“Shame on you for not just telling me what seat you wanted from the beginning.”
And naturally, me and my angel hair can't help but giggle to ourselves at their conversation. They lovingly banter on, until they notice me watching from a couple of barstools down (because, obviously, this is a couple that eats at the bar), at which point they begin to speculate out loud about how amazing my steamy, lemony, buttery angel hair goodness looks.
They look at the plate, then at me, then back to the plate with such admiration, as if I had invented electricity, or perhaps the airplane.
“It's very good,” I tell them. “It's had me dreaming of Italy for the past 20 minutes.”
She whacks him in the arm with the back of her hand. “See? I knew we shoulda ordered the pasta.”
Of course, once their plates had arrived, they begin insisting that I sample some of theirs–apparently the calamari is top notch, and I simply must try it.
I refuse, telling them that, to be frank, those squiggly little legs just aren't my cup of tea, and so the Mr. begins hunting down the circles with his fork, proceeding to fling several onto my plate, seeming absolutely ecstatic as he awaits my reaction to my first bite of the deep-fried cephalopod–which, in case you were wondering, happens to be in the same family as the slug.
Precisely why I order angel hair, man.
After we go back and forth for a while–this team of strangers enthusiastically offering me their food, me wondering just how obligated I now am to offer them my angel hair, despite all inclination to do so–they eventually finish their meal, get their bill, and leave, and I am left in peace to finish my chardonnay and perhaps beckon the server for another.
The encounter has prompted me to think–not about elderly, Jewish woman fashion trends, nor about the number of diseases that one could potentially contract from sharing food–but about bigger picture things. You know, that whole life thing.
I watched these two people, who had obviously lived a full life, and suddenly it was just so strikingly clear: At the end of the day, it doesn't matter what you did for a living. It doesn't matter if you had 1 bedroom or 5. It doesn't matter whether you could ever afford the heated leather seats, or the touch-screen GPS. It doesn't matter if you don't have a villa on a lake, or a private bungalow on the beach. It doesn't matter if your Christmas gifts aren't extravagant, or your birthday gifts modest. It doesn't matter if you have an iPhone or a flip phone, a mac or a PC, a flat screen or a big ole box of a television. It doesn't matter if you're stylish or not, if you can afford the designer label or not, or if you even care about those things at all.
None of it matters.
What matters, at the end of the day, are the people sitting next to you at the bar.
It's the people that make our lives worth living, and make our memories worth remembering.
It's the people that make our heart race with joy, and our rooms filled with laughter.
It's the people that make the wine taste so good, and the pasta taste all the more better.
It's the people that make a story have a purpose, a painting have its beauty and a song have its moment.
It's the people–from the good, to the bad, and everything in between–that not only share your reality, but actively serve to construct it, that truly matter.
Because at the end of the day, you can't take your heated leather seats with you. You can't take your black granite countertop, your fancy Prada shoes or any of the money you've worked so hard to save.
All you have are your memories, as you partake in the one and only thing that truly will ever serve to define you in this life: That of shared experience.
As they walked out of the restaurant, hand in hand, it was me who was staring at them with admiration–here were two people, who by themselves may have had nothing, but together, had the world.
They had each other.
And isn't that enough?