This must be the hottest Thanksgiving Monday on record. It's the first time I've worn a tank top, shorts and sandals on the patio of a public drinking establishment. Come to think of it, it's the first time I've found myself at a public drinking establishment on a Thanksgiving Monday, ever. I've been driven to drink by the stress and uncertainty of the last few months. More accurately, I've had a fight with Sugar D, our first in months and months, outside of our usual bickering, and the gorgeous day far warmer than any October day should be has me craving the pleasure of a pint on a patio.
And so I find myself enjoying a cold one on a warm, breezy patio all by myself. I feel a bit self-conscious being alone, especially after a man, also by himself except for the golden retriever lounging at his feet, smiles at me when I look around. He is wearing the same hopeful expression as his dog. I make sure my left hand is visible to him and rub my wedding ring for emphasis. I read the last few pages of Shutterbabe, which is truly a wonderful book. But I finish it too soon, and am left with three-quarters of a pint and not much to engage myself in.
I wonder if that man has brought his dog along as the next best chick-magnet to a baby, if he's looking for a kindred spirit. He looks nice enough, like someone I know except I've never met him before.
At another table, two men in direct sun frown over a chess game, their beer glasses nearly empty. In the corner, a young man and woman play scrabble next to tea and french fries. Another man, also youngish, reads his book, one hand fondling his temple. A pack of smokes is on the table in front of him, nearly empty, and flattened from his back pocket. I remember how my pack of smokes was almost always flattened like that after a night out, when I had only a few smokes left.
The man with the dog just smokes and surveys, like me, his loyal friend relaxed at his feet. He makes me nervous. He's watching me I think. Every time I look around, he's looking at me and darts his eyes away. I see he's sucking back half-pints like he should have just ordered a full one. He pays his bill before he's finished, telling the server that he's running it out of time. I see he's wearing crocs when he gets up to use the ashtray at another table. Somewhere, some version of family is expecting him, I guess. Did he say he was taking the dog for a walk as an excuse to escape? That he'd be back by dinner time?
My own version of a family is waiting for me too I guess. My MIL is coming for dinner tonight, nothing ambitious, just a visit. I procrastinate on finishing the last few sips, then finally relent.
When I return home, I discover Sugar D and Swee'pea have gone out, and there is spinach between my two front teeth.