I love being in the city.

Kristin and I recently went to San Francisco where I had a work conference. I always appreciate when work obligations happen in good tourism cities because I’ll typically tack a couple of days onto the end of the trip and enjoy the city at a fraction of the cost. I don’t do this on my many trips to Texas because the majority of Texas is awful.

On this particular trip, someone recommended to me that we have dinner at Pizzeria Delfina. In short, it was excellent, unusual, and crowded as fuck, like you’d expect a quality date night style place to be in San Francisco on a Friday.

At this particular place, everyone who entered put their name on a chalkboard and how many were in their party. The poor harried hostess would then go down the list and seat people if their parties were complete and if they were around. It was a hopelessly chaotic system that rewards anal people who stay close by drinking their beers and waiting for opportunity (i.e. Kristin and me).

Among the mass of meandering jackasses sat a lone woman, probably in her 30s, reading a book. I don’t remember what book it was, which doesn’t matter because I can’t think of a single title made better by reading it in a crowded pizza parlor on a bustling Friday night. And make no mistake, this wasn’t pure posturing, she was reading this book.

But why? Who the hell conspicuously reads like this? When I read in public, it’s usually some Cracked article during some boring work thing. In this case, I read in public to demonstrate my boredom and defiance in the face of my workaday masters who can’t run a meeting properly.

I also read in public (again, some Cracked thing or some fucking essay about The Karate Kid or whatever) when I’m alone to spy surreptitiously on those around me and look for an entry point into a conversation because I’m lonely and insecure. I suspected this is what this woman was doing, but I have mostly given up trying to discern the motives of strangers. Actually, people I know too. It’s just too difficult.

The thing that was so vexing was that there seemed to be opportunity for this to happen, and while she wasn’t rude, she was clearly more into the book. I watched her all night off and on. Half a bottle of wine, back to the book. Salad course, book. Full fucking pizza, book. The couple next to her at the counter near the kitchen (city restaurants are laid out all screwy) even seemed nice. WHAT IS THIS WOMAN DOING HERE?

She sort of looked like Tommy Gunn’s girlfriend from Rocky V, which was an insight I was pleased NO ONE could relate to and only underlines how alone you really are in the world. And maybe she already knows that, which is why she’s just taken to reading in restaurants. Because fuck it. No one gets your jokes. No one sees the world as you do. And to hell with it, I’m not staying here just to lick the cat’s butt all night, I’m going out for pizza and while I’m at it, I’m finishing this goddamn book too. If that’s the case, she’s both brilliant and poignantly sad.

Also, I recommend the Prosciutto Pie. Delish!

2 comments on “Unescorted

  1. Natalie says:

    I have been a voracious reader since the age of six. My ideal day to myself involves sleeping in and raging all day. I usually have a book with me and will read anywhere and everywhere. Waiting in line at Starbucks. At my desk while eating lunch sometimes, while waiting for appointments, etc. My husband makes fun of me because I read while bridging my teeth. AND I one received a, lecture from him when he found out I had been reading at stop lights while reading something I just couldn’t put down. He said it was “Unsafe” …whatever. Anyway, my point is that as a book lover I will – and have – read everywhere. If I had a night to myself and wanted that pizza I would do the same thing. So I don’t think we can assume she has a sad life with a house full of cats. As a Lover of Reading I was offended…

  2. Jon Eks says:

    Natalie: This made me laugh for so many reasons. But mostly I’ll just say this: Please don’t read at stoplights. There’s plenty of time for books and most people suck at driving. We need people like you to make up for their deficiencies.

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