Public transportation turns me on, y’all. I don’t mean, like, I see a city bus and get all hot and bothered; I just mean I have a real love for the lifestyle I think a good mass transit system supports. Whenever I dream of my life as a tortured, starving artist (with expensive shoes and a Jenny Aniston hair cut, circa now, not circa Friends), it’s always midnight and I’m on a train headed home to my postage stamp-sized apartment from whatever gallery opening or swank new restaurant I couldn’t afford so I just stood at the bar sipping tap water with lime and looking hot with my pretty shoes. Shoes, glorious shoes.
In real life I’m in La La Land for work today and my colleague dragged me to a networking luncheon that promised to be a real snooze but turned out to be a fascinating event about Los Angeles public transportation and California high speed rail. I’ll recreate the speakers’ presentations for you here so you’ll see why I thought it was so amazing: “Blah funding blah blah Prop 23 blah blah blah Measure 45 blah blah blah blah legislature blah blah blah blah blah federal government blah blah blah blah blah blah Barbara Boxer blah blah blah blah blah blah blah elections blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah high speed rail blah blah in the year 2525, if we are still alive.” Still awake? Neither was anyone else in the room, but I was about to fall out of my chair I was so happy.
What does all this have to do with vegetables? Very, very little. So since my colleague made me go to this thing to meet people I did my due diligence by sitting next to a woman I’ve never met. She was a brisk, no-nonsense business owner in her mid-50s and while I was busy trying to think of something, anything networky and small talky to say to her and coming up with exactly nothing, she was delivering blunt remarks about everything her eyes landed on. The speakers. The food. Me. She noticed immediately that I inhaled my bread but only picked at my salad. And she told me so.
“YOU DIDN’T EAT YOUR SALAD.” Frown.
I smiled weakly. Not only do I hate these things (the presentations hadn’t started yet, so I didn’t know the Asian American Architects and Engineers Association was about to rock my world), but now I’m being reprimanded by a stranger? No, thank you.
Then we were served pretty plates of spinach stuffed chicken, rice pilaf, carrots and broccoli. It seemed harmless enough, but I hadn’t examined the chicken stuffing for onions yet, so I went to work with my knife and fork, pulling out bits of spinach and poking through cream sauce. I whispered to my colleague, “Let me know if you find any onions,” like helping me through lunch was a group effort. The guy barely knows me.
Brisk Lady who doesn’t know me at all said, “YOU DON’T LIKE ONIONS?” Frown.
She was loud, curt, and matter of fact. And what she lacked in intonation she made up for with her facial expressions.
But then the presentations started, a whoosh of dopamine attacked my good sense, and when Brisk Lady looked disapprovingly at my plate and said “YOU DON’T EAT MUCH,” I think I fell in love with her a little bit. She said so succinctly and with so few words what I’ve been trying to capture all year. I still don’t like vegetables? Frown.
Then she said, “I LIKE YOUR PURSE.” Smile. So I ate my broccoli.