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Saturday, September 8, 2007

I Almost Died After Dinner

I'm grateful to be alive today. Or am I? Dinner sort of stank last night. Misery loves company, so please click your way on into my life.

I sped down a busy freeway to meet some people I didn't even know for dinner. Got stuck in traffic due to a major sporting event. You'd think they'd have taken this kind of game traffic into account when they built the offramps. I hate traffic.

I finally got there thinking I was late and discovered I was early. I met some of the people at the bar. I started chatting about wine with a football player sized Vietnamese guy, a salesman who I'll call "Con man."

I discovered he likes wine that is sweet, fruity and not too tart. "So, you like your wine like you like your women?" He smiled broadly. "That's a great way of saying it."

"You seem to know alot about wine."
"Well, actually, that's just what the bartender told me." What a retard.
I ordered Tears of Dew Moscato. "I like them sweet, like I like my wine. Besides, life is short. Have dessert first."

A quirky blonde showed up. She was really cool and I liked her dress.

I seriously hoped that my other dinner companion wasn't the surly wallflower type sitting on a chair. As the host directed us to a table, Surly surely followed us. Great. I was sure he would warm up once he realized we weren't going to cut off his head and serve his brains with a nice chianti. I don't even like chianti.

Once seated, we were joined by Ted, a financial analyst who had also had quite a drive to get there. We connected over the Gypsy Kings and coffee worshipping whirling dervishes. "The Devil's Cup, a book about the history of the world according to coffee asserts that Western Civilization progressed the way that it did because caffiene caused our enlightenment. Every great idea and every conquest was spurred by coffee." He seemed fascinated. I kept wishing he were just a little bit cuter.

Meanwhile, Surly stared at us and chewed with his mouth open. When he left the table, I said, "I feel so bad for him." Con said, "Don't. He's a grown man."

I reach for my fork and Con said, "Hey, that's my fork." Quirky started in, "I have a really nifty way to remember that. See, knife has 5 letters, so it's on the right, just like right has five letters. Actually, our bread plates also got messed up. Bread has five letters, so you always take the plate to the right. Fork has four letters, just like left. And spoon and glass have five letters, so they o on the right."

"Clearly, you've put alot of thought into this." Said Con. I was a bit dumbfounded. I was more and more astounded that Quirky found ways of settling into strange topics like drinking, tickets and getting pulled over and made to do a sobriety test. She explained that when they ask you to say the alphabet backwards, they want you to say that you can't do that sober because that's an admission of guilt. Like the winner that I am, I chipped in, "I just got a ticket this week for an illegal left turn into my school. You'd think the cop would let me off the hook because I'm a teacher trying to get to school on time." Great, that was a dumb thing to say. (I also asked the cop, "Hey, I'm late. Do you mind just dropping that in my box?") But then Quirky started explaining how to fight the ticket even though in my mind I was clearly an evil sinner who mows children down while they walk to school. Clearly she had put alot of thought into that too!

San Francisco came up in conversation and I sang, "Are you going to San Francisco? Put a flower in your hair..." Con said, "That's the fourth time you've done that. I've been counting." Oh..."Well, it's kind of like Monty Python's Life of Brian. Sometimes I feel like singing..." This behavior scares some people. But, really, I was being good compared to the previous day when I sang an entire medly of tunes from A Chorus Line as I went through a catalog of choral music with some of my students.

Whenever Surly chipped in, he mumbled. We didn't hear a word. I was thanking God I wasn't on a solo date with him.

Con was desperate to leave and, I'm sure, invented some reason to leave. He was on the edge of his seat in the ready position as Quirky prattled on about something.

As we went to the door to leave, Surly took off without so much as a goodbye. I asked if anyone wanted to hang out. Ted did since he had also driven quite far.

So, off we went walking to check out any other hangouts in the local area. During our meander, we crossed a street that wasn't exactly busy. There were signs everywhere that said YIELD TO PEDESTRIANS. Safe, right?

We were more than halfway across the street when a car caught my eye. It was speeding towards us with abandon. I screamed and stepped back. Then I screamed again. Ted stopped cold. The car pulled over just past the crosswalk. I think I was too stunned to be scared--or maybe it was the medication I was on, or the wine with dinner. I almost felt nothing. A lady rolled down her window. "Are you guys OK?"

"Yes, we're OK. Are you drunk?"
She knit her brows, "No. It's just that the light was green and you're wearing black." Ted, dressed in white from head to toe, just stared at her in shock. The only other person on the street turned from his cellphone momentarily and chimed in, "I was a witness. The light was green and you guys really shouldn't take chances like that." Directly over his head was a sign that stated clearly, YIELD TO PEDESTRIANS. The man continued on his way and crossed the street. The lady said, Well, I have to go. I was helping my parents and I'm really tired." She sped off as I wondered if there had been any traffic violations or if I should have savvily whipped out my cell phone to get her photo and license plate.

Ted and I looked at each other. "So, I'm dressed in black and she couldn't see me. She must be blind. Your screaming saved my life."

Of course, I told my students that I was glad I didn't die. I was pretty sure they would have been upset to know that Miss D had died after just starting the school year! Or maybe not. In any case, I'm glad to be alive, even if it meant that I still don't have a boyfriend or husband, the perfect job and have to walk by teenagers at lunch saying, "Please get your tongue out of her mouth" or, "Felipe, not again! Why are you doing something wrong every time I run into you?" Or one kid taking home a book that's part of a class set. Or...

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