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Lettuce Be Silly
It was ninety-two degrees outside when we got out of his car. The sun shone generously as we strolled down the sidewalk, holding hands. Cars zipped by, the breeze teased my hair, and bells attached to store doors rang in the distance as pedestrians ran errands and grabbed lunch. After a short walk past boutiques and cafés, he pulled me towards an Italian restaurant.
“Let’s eat here,” he said. It had outdoor tables, perfect for quiet conversation. I sat down – after he pulled my chair out for me – and a polite waiter came outside and asked us what we would like to drink.
“I’ll just have water,” I said, looking across the table.
“Me too,” my date replied.
I looked down at the menu and my eyes darted around, frantically searching for a food that wasn’t too difficult to eat in front of this guy. A tall, cool glass dotted with water droplets appeared in front of me. I looked back up to see that the waiter was back. Noticing that we weren’t ready to order yet, he left to give us more time.
Then I saw it: TOSSED GARDEN SALAD. I could definitely pull that one off. The ingredients stated, “Lettuce, tomatoes, onions, and olives.” Clean and simple. The only problem was that I hated salads. I looked up to see my date smiling at me with his head tilted sideways and a twinkle in his eyes. As I quickly looked back down shyly, I hoped that he would think the blush spreading across my cheeks was attributed to the heat.
The waiter appeared again.
“I’ll have the tossed salad,” I said, picking up my drink and taking a long sip.
“I’ll have the meatball sub,” my date added.
“That’s it?” the waiter asked me, sounding disappointed, as if daring me to order something else. We gave the menus to him and he left, promising to be back soon.
“So. How’s your summer so far?” my date asked.
“It’s pretty boring,” I replied. “Just trying not to go crazy with college applications.”
He laughed, and I began to relax. I made him laugh, I thought. The conversation carried us comfortably throughout the first half of our date. Then the food came and my insides curled up in horror.
“Enjoy!” the waiter exclaimed. He smiled before leaving, and I thought I saw a wicked glimmer in his eyes.
“Well, are you excited about your last year of high school?” he asked. He picked up his sub and took a bite.
“Kind of.” I forked up two pieces of lettuce. Crunch.
“You kind of get closer to everyone in your grade,” he added.
“Uh-huh.” I took another bite, wondering if he could hear the loud crunching of my chewing. The bitter taste dissolved on my tongue. Why had I ordered the salad?
“You know. ‘Cause everyone gets sad that they won’t see each other anymore after senior year.” He took another bite. How was he doing that?
“Yeah.” I scooped up a baby tomato and flinched stupidly in an attempt to catch it as it almost fell off the end of my fork. I chewed it extra hard as if to punish it. Splat.
“The workload gets difficult, too.”
“I’m sure it does,” I replied. The onion was tricky. I twisted it around the tines of my fork and managed to swallow it quietly. I could hear the lettuce laughing in my stomach.
I should just stop now, I thought. I’m eating like such a pig. I leaned back in my chair and stared at my seemingly untouched plate. Not so clean and simple anymore, am I? the lettuce taunted me.
“Why aren’t you eating?” he asked me suddenly. I sat up, realizing that I had been rudely disengaged from the conversation.
“I … um, I am,” I answered quickly, snatching up my fork. “But, you know. I have such a tiny appetite.”
I forced an olive into my mouth and chewed rapidly, ignoring the unwelcome salty taste that spread over my taste buds.
“No, it’s okay,” he said. “You don’t have to if you’re not hungry.” He playfully took my sunglasses and put them on. I giggled uncontrollably at how silly he looked, and before I knew it, we were both laughing, he at nothing in particular.
We left, hand in hand, after paying. My wedges almost made me trip over a slab of sidewalk, but he caught me before I could fall. I would have died of embarrassment if he hadn’t kissed me on the head.
It wasn’t until then that I realized he wouldn’t have cared what I ordered back at the restaurant.
Manhattan, New York
Baton Rouge, Louisiana
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Let me not pray to be sheltered from dangers, but to be fearless in facing them. Let me not pray for the stilling of my pain, but for the heart to conquer it.
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"I'm the bugs bunny, and if you ain't got my carrots, you ain't got nothin' for me!" --Nicki Minaj
Interesting date! Was the salad that terrible? :P