The Weather

Dinner for One

It may not surprise you to learn that it was hot in Atlanta last Saturday. But when I stepped into the hardwood, easy-to-love Book House Pub around eight that night, I saw that the bar and most of the tables were filled. I’m just one man—a serious man, yes, but a single one—so when the hostess asked if I wanted to sit outside, I said sure. Why not?

For over an hour, on a Saturday night, I was the only asshole sitting outside the hardwood, easy-to-love Book House Pub. One of the myriad reasons the Book House Pub is so easy to love: its hostesses, bartenders, and servers are suspiciously consistent in four ways. They are all female, they are all brunette, they all have bangs, and they are all at least respectable-looking, if not downright beautiful. My friend Roger and I have dubbed it the Hipster Hooters.

My server last Saturday was no exception—downright beautiful. What really struck me, though, what at one point knocked the fork from my hand: she had my ex’s shape. Five-three-and-three-quarters, and heavy in the bottom, which made me yearn for them both. Painfully so.

Upon appearing at my side for the first time to fill my water, my beautiful bottom-heavy server asked, “Braving the heat, huh?”

There’s nothing brave about this, beautiful bottom-heavy server. But that’s kind of you to say.

“Are you waiting on friends?”

No, beautiful bottom-heavy server. I’m just one man. A serious man, yes, but a single one. If anything, ironically, I feel as if I’m waiting on you.

“What can I get you to drink?”

It may not surprise you to learn that I’m an idiot, beautiful bottom-heavy server. After all, I’m sitting outside in 106-degree heat. Yes, like an asshole. So in lieu of a nice cold beer, I’ll have a bourbon ale, lukewarm if possible. Ah, it’s from the cask! Perfect. I haven’t had a drink all week, so I need the strongest, least agreeable ale possible. Also an arugula salad, because its coolness will offset the warmth of the ale, and it’s not good to drink on an empty stomach, is it? Well, nothing fills me up quite like arugula. Bourbon ale and arugula: I’m sure you’ve paired these items in your menu. Actually, I’ll hold onto that. Thank you. 

It may not surprise you to learn that finishing my bourbon ale was difficult. There were only twelve ounces—served in some form of aborted goblet—but I didn’t have the stomach for it, and it wasn’t a good drink, or a cold one, and it was hot. Painfully so.

But after half an hour of holding my nose and forcing it down my throat—I didn’t want my server to think me any less brave—with Michael Jackson screaming in my ear from a nearby speaker, and my beautiful bottom-heavy server sweetly checking on me every so often, I drained the glass, and swallowed the last of my disappointing salad, which had been drowned in a strange brown dressing more like caramel than the light lemon vinaigrette I’d expected.

I felt compelled to wash the taste of this meal completely out of my mouth. So upon my server’s return, having established a rapport, I anticipated her question (“Can I get you anything else?”) and had an answer—no, the answer—at the ready.

I’ll have a funnel cake, beautiful bottom-heavy server, with ice cream. I know: I’m a serious man, and this is an incredibly silly thing to order, especially since I’m just one man. But what better drug to blot out the memory of bourbon ale and arugula than golden fried dough, powdered with sugar and topped with a glob of vanilla ice cream? What better dish on a hot day than this, beautiful bottom-heavy server?

Because of its inherent silliness, I ordered the funnel cake with a crooked grin on my face, my cheeks flush from heat and embarrassment. I’d hoped that my beautiful bottom-heavy server might return my smile, or react to my childish demand in some vague, ice-breaking way. But she just wrote FUNNEL CAKE on her notepad and asked:

“Do you want another beer?”

Not another bourbon ale, beautiful bottom-heavy server. Never again a warm bourbon ale on a hot day. I’ll have a cold Bell’s Oberon, to wash the taste completely out.

My beautiful bottom-heavy server departed, leaving me to wallow in my own silliness. I’d been reading a book with my meal, a serious memoir by a serious man, but returning to it seemed futile. My server no doubt considered me an illiterate at this point. She returned after a few moments with my beer, and then my cake, and after she’d handed me the cake, which looked glorious, she peered out at the darkening sky and asked:

“Do you think it’s going to rain?”

I hope not— 

“I hope so. Cool things off.”

I hope so too! Yes! To cool things off! Are you a scientist, beautiful bottom-heavy server? Is climate change man-made, or part of the Earth’s natural cycle? No matter: We both agree that a bit of precipitation would be just… just what the doctor ordered, under the circumstances— 

I don’t know if, before I corrected my stance, my beautiful bottom-heavy server had heard me hope against rain. But she stepped back into the hardwood, easy-to-love Book House Pub, where every other man waited on her, and seconds later, from the nearby speaker, came Prince’s “Purple Rain,” and I balled my dirty napkin and shot it at a wastebasket not six feet from where I sat, as if at a hoop, and I missed, and felt that my napkin, my server, my ex, and the Universe had all played a great prank on me.

Evan Allgood's work has appeared in McSweeney's, The Millions, LA Review of Books, The Toast, and The Billfold. He lives in Brooklyn and contributes regularly to Paste. Follow and maybe later unfollow him on Twitter @evoooooooooooo.