Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Pen's Oil

"Synthetic oil is better, but not for the reasons you said. Its smooth on the engine, minimizes wear and tear. Mileage? Well, that might show some improvement, but not a significant amount, not like the wear and tear factor."

She adds a packet of natural sugar to the teapot, pours some into a cup and nods. "Perhaps some synthetic oil will minimize wear and tear on me," sipping her tea.

The waitress stood next to the table, a pot in each hand. "Sir, can I hot that up for you?"

"Yeah sure, thanks. The decaf, please."

She filled his cup from the orange handled pot. "Creamers?"

He nodded. She took a handful from her pocket, dropped them on the table and turned to the next booth. "Ma'am, would you like some more coffee?"

He continued."Perhaps. Don't count on it. You need more than oil to minimize the wear and tear on your moving parts. Lots more." He broke his muffin in half, then in half again. "Would you like a piece?"

"No. I'm fine."

"You are that." He picks up a segment and eats it. "Muffins are an oil-based cake. Real food oil, canola oil, corn oil, olive oil. Not synthetic oil. Not margarine."

"True. You can't make muffins from margarine, from products containing trans fat."

"No, you can't." He nods, still chewing the segment of muffin. "No. Muffins are muffins. Why did you say we have to talk?"

"Because we do."

"Talk, not do?"

"Talk, not do."

"Oh." He takes another bite, swallows his coffee and stares into the empty mug. He swirls the grinds up the side of the mug, but cannot read what it says. "Oh."


"Well. What about? We haven't even seen each other in weeks. I thought we elected to forego discussion."

"I think we need closure. I think I need closure."

"Did somebody die? You disappeared, not me. We need closure? You need closure? Psychobabble. Closure. Huh. You are so full of it." He breaks up the last segment of muffin. Crumbs litter the table.

She licks her forefinger and picks up some of the crumbs, then sucks them off her finger.

"I thought you didn't want any."

"I don't."

"You don't want any when I offer you the whole thing, but you pick up the crumbs? The garbage? You can have it all and you take trash."

"Uhh... excuse me, sir, ma'am. Would you like anything else? Or will that be all?" The waitress stood, uneasy.

"No, just the check. We're done here. Thank you." She places the check on the table.

He glances at it, pulls out his billfold. Selects a ten and a five, hands them to the waitress. "Here. No, keep the change."

She listens to this with half an ear, thinking. Why was she picking up his crumbs, his leavings, his cast-offs? If the wear and tear left her worn and torn, were crumbs all she deserved?

He stands, glares at her. "I don't get you, I don't get you at all. Why did you call me? Why bother? Why engage? So you can keep me hoping? You like holding the leash, don't you? Yeah, psychobabble, it's what you do, put labels on things, on feelings. You'd rather label than feel. All the time, analyzing, defining. Fine. I'm going to throw it back at you now. Why?"

"Why? I don't know. I thought you'd want to know why I dropped off the face of the earth."

"Six weeks you don't take my calls, answer my email, nothing. There's a reason? Besides the usual chaos of your life? Another reason? What story are you going to tell me this time? I know you. I've known you how long now? What is it, two, three years already? I know what's going on. You think I'm stupid? Do I really need to hear this? Do I?"

"I dunno."

He drops his napkin on the table and walks out.

She licks her finger again, presses it against the table. Pour tea into his mug and drinks.

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