There’s no such thing as cuisine in this place, so I go to Beijing Buffet when I want to eat out. All-you-can-eat Asian is the most elegant of the fast foods. I retrieved a respectable portion of lo mein noodles and szechuan vegetables from the metal trays against the right wall of the restaurant and took my plate to the bar. I ordered a glass of water. Whiskey doesn’t go with Chinese.
Beijing Buffet goes through bartenders so fast that there’s no point in wasting the energy to forge relationships with any of them, so I sat in silence, with my cane leaned against one of my legs. The cacophony of the of the restaurant bustling around me combined with the thunder echoing outside and the rain against the windows. It created a layered form of white noise that I got lost in. The chicken was acceptable.
I was so engrossed in feeding myself that I didn’t notice the girl that sat down just two seats over from me. I only looked up when she ordered a Jack Daniels in a British accent. She was wearing a gorgeous light blue dress, and I noticed immediately that her eyes were a deep green.
“Hi there,” she said with a smile. “My name is Ophelia.”
My mouth fumbled around for a moment, and then said, “Like Hamlet?”
She giggled, and my heart restarted. “My parents were Shakespeare fans, yes. But you’re likely the thousandth person to ask me that.”
“Well I apologize for my inability to provide interesting conversation,” I replied meekly.
“Oh, I’m sure you’re more interesting than you give yourself credit for. Tell me about yourself.”
So I did. Not everything, of course. If I had told her something like my real age, she would have ended the conversation rather quickly. But I told her most things. She learned all about my apartment, my business and my proclivities. She seemed to love it when I went on my rants, so I did a lot of griping. And somehow, I managed to learn a lot of things about her too.
I’m lying in my bed now, staring into my phone, and reading her phone number over and over to myself. My hair is still wet from walking home in the rain so fast that I forgot to use my umbrella. If only her name were Cressida instead of Ophelia. Then I could say that, “expectation whirls me around.”