Tough Lunches of the Twenty-First Century (Victory)

Date: January 31, 2015
Location: USS Chowder Pot, Branford, CT.

Sometime victory is hard to recognize.

I took my baby out for clams, oysters and other aphrodisiacs from the ocean. I remember the smells: the sea and the sizzle and the spices of the gins and tonic. The old crinkle paper of the menus. I remember the grease stains.

My girlfriend Rebecca, (don't call me Becky) she wanted to know why, why was I so insistent on this place- today. I told her it was nothing, just another overcast Thursday, just another lunch, but I was ready to tell my Rebecca (don't call me Becky) that I loved her and wanted to spend the rest of my life with her.

Saying it out loud now it sounds insane- you either propose on your knees with a ring in your pocket or you just keep your mouth shut. But back then, back when I could conquer the world, I just had to say it. I had to say it out loud. I just had to tell Rebecca (don’t call me Becky) that I was in love with her.

“Well I’m not in love with you.”

The lobster came & I cracked shell. Melted butter oh my god. I think lobster is the sweetest meat. Of all the meats. In the ocean or the world.

“This is too soon. Way too soon for that. I don’t even know you.”

I took good to the scampi. My face was sunburn red. It’s better when you squeeze a lemon wedge.

 “I think you have issues- serious issues- and I think you’re trying to use me to escape them. I think you’re problematic. I think you’re fatally flawed.”

Oysters they go down so easy. With that saltwater taste? The deliciousness. The deliciousness of the saltwater, the perfume of the maritime air. I wanted to sail someplace far away. The sound of the wind punching the sails.

“I told you this wasn’t exclusive. I told you from the beginning. I’ve been seeing my ex and I’m sure you know we’ve been fucking. But it’s more than that... he gives me something that I don’t think you ever could.”

The crab legs were seagull succulent, the scallions melt in my mouth, and when I took a bite of the clam chowder I could feel the sea spray misting my face from my place off the port bow.

"I think I should get my stuff from your place tonight and give you some time to come down to Earth," said Rebecca (don't call me Becky) and she got up and left, her plate of tilapia untouched, and I don’t think I knew I was crying until the waitress sat down next to me. She was sweet, caring... I looked into her deep brown eyes as she held my hand and made sure I was okay.

I was okay.

It’s not everyday you get a lunch that good, or a waitress like that, like that Jackie, beautiful, my heart held gentle in her hands, her face filet of soul. I squeezed her hand back, just happy to be here, happy to be alive.

We traded numbers and shared a shrimp cocktail.

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