This, during a strained discussion of basil and lavender, herbs good for a gangrene-thumb like myself. At a too-small table I was struggling: for a topic, exit, allergic reaction, anything to get my butt out of there. I’d just asked about tisanes, which leaves were possible, which poison. He had no clue. Lemon verbena, I was about to say.
Then: tuna melts. Do you like them?
Not really, I said. Greasy griddled bread, mashed fish, cheese, mayo? Hello? No. Even if I did like them, would I admit to such a thing? Commit my outsized teeth to a mess only a double Sonicare session could cure?
He had a great one, he said, at the USS Midway snack bar. The best. At the aircraft carrier museum.
Good to know.
It is all interesting on some topical level. To someone, maybe. Are you planning a trip to San Diego? Do you like tuna melts? You can bask in the birthplace of Naval aviation, check out the catapult and ready rooms, site of myriad cruises and risky night cat traps, stinky zoom suits, cinnamon rolls and Cold War and valor and boredom and porn. Imagine, you can climb into a simulator all patriot like, and then: Get on line for a tuna melt.
It is easier to write about a dud date than the hope for someone else.
A train in the distance made tangible. Fancy that. I really can’t.
There are epistolary things, emails slightly too meaty to delete, accounts of long-ago midnight falafel and the remodeling of beach shacks. Cities and memories of different East Coast childhoods. I’m writing from here now. This is what I did, in this school and that, Fessenden, Exeter, Princeton, Stanford. I live near the water and I hear the train and there is hope in that sound, why is that? Neurobiology; you romanticize it but I envy what you do, how you can describe. There is such a thing as wasted science, when papers go unwritten. The science is lost.
An introduction to dosa, a lentil-and-rice fermented crepe from South India. Protein rich and golden, cone shaped, big, like a dunce cap. Dosa, hot and stiff with ghee. Lined with masala. There’s one good place in this town to get it.
There are no simple good times when you date at our age.
At table, as the dosa flakes absorb chutney and the raita flows, a survey of red flags. A mutual obstacle course. Common losses early in life, so similar as to be scary.
Say no more. I know just what you mean.
On his iPhone, pictures of trees, a Buddha equidistant to guitar on the beach shack floor, a big untamed garden. I recommended sage; I said it would go viral.
Check it out. In my yard, liquid amber trees! The realtor didn’t get just how amazing that is. The name.
Yes, I said, liquid amber, the name and the trees. They are beautiful.
They really were.