It was a Friday night. It had to be a Friday night.
I know it was a Friday night because there was a big hollow place in the bottom of my stomach where my son was supposed to be. When you get pregnant, you don’t think about what’s going to happen years down the road. You think about the cute rattles and which brand of car seat and do I *really* need baby bottles when I’m going to nurse the wee bay-bee? You don’t think down the road apiece, when custody is split and parenting is a weekday thing, and what does my kid do on the weekend anyway (besides play World of Fucking Warcraft) but you can’t DO anything about it because, well, it’s not your turn to raise him.
You don’t think about that stuff. No. Not at all.
But there we were, two of the gloomiest people on the planet, trying to fill a hollow void that would remain empty until Sunday.
“Let’s grab some dinner,” Daver offered. I nodded, my heart wearing a sad face.
“Thai okay?” He asked, staring at my face intently, knowing that I probably wasn’t really okay.
“Sure,” I replied. “I love Thai food. Remind me not to get anything spicy. That shit BURNS coming back up.”
He nodded, the two of us both playing a role, our hearts not really in the game.
I waddled through the crisp January air and maneuvered myself into the passenger seat of the car, carefully buckling myself in. The moment the seatbelt hit my abdomen, my second son, another boy, began to furiously kick at it for daring to interfere with his space. I smiled a bit, rubbed my son’s head, nestled firmly in my ribcage, and said in my very best (worst) Adam Sandler voice: “He’s gonna be a soccer player.”
We both smiled a bit, each of us lost in our separate galaxy as we tried to not notice that the backseat was missing one occupant, our hands stiff and cold, as we tried to warm them against the sputtering warm air vents of our Pilot. It had been a bitter winter and there was no hint of spring on the horizon. Just dark cold days spent huddled under blankets.
We pulled up to the Thai place and I slithered out of the car, bumping my burgeoning gut on both the door and the car as I tried to maneuver my way onto the sidewalk and into the restaurant. I laughed a bit as I grabbed Daver’s hand, “Wow, it’s busy tonight,” I noted as we wandered through the front doors, “Mmm-hmmm,” Daver replied. “Glad we came when we did.”
The tiny Thai waitress who delighted in my belly every time I saw her (I learned through another waitress that the woman had been trying to get pregnant for many years) greeted us with a, “Hi there! How you doing? Table for two?”
I smiled and said yes, making my way through the maze of tables and trying not to bash someone into their Pad Thai with my belly, which I knew was no easy feat.
We made our way to a tiny cozy table against the wall, a deuce, and we sat, removing our jackets and shaking off the smell of cold. I knew what I wanted to eat, so I didn’t bother opening my menu to peruse the selections I could probably recite from heart if asked. I left the menu closed as Dave opened his, pretending he wasn’t going to order the same thing he always ordered – creatures of habit like to pretend we’re not sometimes – and I began to look around the dining room. People-watching is especially fun while at a restaurant. Maybe it’s the false sense of intimacy, I don’t know, but people tend to behave as they really are while dining out.
My eyes bounced from table to table as my son tap-danced on my bladder, making damn certain that I’d pay attention to that half-an-mL of pee currently sitting in there, until my eyes rested squarely upon another two-top who was…wait. They were both staring at ME!
She was sitting facing me, and he’d swiveled around to face me and they were both staring at me…except they weren’t really STARING so much as murdering me with their eyeballs. Four eyeballs trying to murder me.
I quickly turned my eyes back to my table. That couldn’t have really happened. I mean, I wasn’t DOING anything. It’s not like I’d come in with my pet monkey, Mr. Pinchey, and starting flinging poo around the place.
Shit, maybe I was under-dressed – I was so tired these days, I wouldn’t have put it past me to have gone out wearing a Shut Your Whore Mouth shirt, except this was before I had this blog or a shirt. No, I decided as I looked down, it wasn’t the shirt. And I’d managed to put on pants, which was a plus, so it wasn’t that my wobbly ass was hanging out.
Whew, I breathed a sigh of relief. I was appropriately dressed.
And it’s not like they could’ve known me from my other blog, Mushroom Printing. I’m pretty sure the only picture of me on that blog ever was this, which my co-blogger had put up as a representation of me:
They weren’t Internet People, so what the hell? What gives?
I felt chastised, like I’d done something wrong. The couple were still swiveled around, murdering me with their eyeballs as I tried to figure out WHY.
Finally, I whispered to Daver, “I think those people are staring at me.” Dave’s accustomed to playing the devil’s advocate, so I expected him to say something like, “they’re not staring at you murderously; they’re looking at the statue over your head and trying telekinesis.”
“WOAH,” he said, upon inspection. “What did you DO to them?”
“I have no idea,” I said, pretty shaken. I cross-indexed the Rolodex in my head to see if I could make a connection. Nope.
“I’ve never seen them before in my life,” I whispered in the crowded restaurant, now so acutely uncomfortable that I realized I was on the verge of vomiting. Everything (including air, sleep and pants) made me want to vomit, so this was an unsurprising reaction.
I dashed off to the bathroom to heave as Daver ordered for us.
I stood in front of the mirror as I washed my face, making sure my nose wasn’t bleeding and that I hadn’t gone out accidentally wearing a Swastika or something. I sturdied my legs which were quivering beneath me, ready to face this couple. I was going to find out why the hell they wanted to ruin my dinner. Maybe it was a case of mistaken identity that could be cleared up over some spring rolls or something.
Taking a deep breath, I marched back out into the dining room, veering sharply to the right to confront them.
They were gone.
And they took with them the answers to a puzzle I’ve been replaying in my head for years. I cannot, for the life of me, understand what had happened that night.
Six years later, I’m still confused. I still wonder what had happened to that couple; what made them so full of hate.
I’ll probably never know.
Has anything like this happened to you, Pranksters?