Like so many days before today, I am sitting on the same wooden bench I once sat on as an interested and impatient 23-year-old waiting for a date that my friend blindly set me up on. There is music playing on the radio that makes very little sense to me. Though it’s easy to imagine how the lead singer found his growling voice and abrasive drummer. I picture him, 27, and really into an ocean sport—probably surfing. I imagine him as an openly emotional person who probably smokes weed and wears those metal studded belts. What he lacks in humility he makes up for in inclusiveness. I imagine him practicing all the time with his abrasive drummer. Maybe his abrasive drummer is along for the ride, all the while thinking the band won’t go further than Santa Cruz. I think of the complexity and late night studio sessions and movement and exchange of money involved in getting this music out into the world, only for me to be slightly annoyed by it. How ungrateful we can be as humans, discarding the sounds and people and clothes that just don’t make the cut. What a gift to be able to choose anything at all.
My cheeseburger and I contemplate who made these benches. Where the wood is from. Who chopped it. If “Amanda + David” are, in fact, together forever, as their carving exclaims.
I order a half pound cheeseburger ($9) without a bun because I have a gluten allergy, or at least a sensitivity, or maybe it’s just a made-up explanation for an always hurting stomach from the unbearable anxiety being a human can bring on. When I order no bun, I worry that the server thinks I am on a diet. I don’t know why I don’t want her to think I am on a diet; I feel equally stupid saying I “avoid gluten.” This makes me annoying. This makes me the type of person who thinks they’re better. This makes me the type of person who is going to question every aspect of the bill, only to leave a 10-percent tip and some snotty advice below my signature. But I’m not like that, and so I let her believe I’m on a diet. This makes ordering fries that are battered and crisped in grease very confusing for the diet thing, and also for the gluten thing.
I bet the abrasive drummer has dietary restrictions. A lot of sensitive people do. Maybe all the people who have dietary restrictions are actually just the most sensitive people in existence. I think about science and how they conduct food allergy tests with tiny strips of things that itch on your back. What a profoundly strange, and surprisingly romantic way, to discover your enemy. Strap them to your back and wait it out. Whatever leaves a mark—that’s it.
My cheeseburger and I contemplate who made these benches. Where the wood is from. Who chopped it. If “Amanda + David” are, in fact, together forever, as their carving exclaims. People slowly pour in, tired and thirsty from their jobs. I wonder what all their allergies are. If they know Amanda and David. If they are Amanda and David. And how the abrasive drummer is spending his early afternoon.