I never anticipated death smelling like fast food.
It was almost funny, never once had that thought ever cross my mind, but here I was on the verge of an immediate demise and all I could smell was the cheap, greasy food of a fast food joint. Perhaps it had something to do with where we were, settled in a booth a local burger joint, hardly a proper setting for death, but death does seem to pick her own place to strike.
The day had started much like others that week, wet and miserable in a mixture of rain, sleet, and snow that proved to make more than potent slush. A slush that threatened my already pathetic social life, the one outing that had even been considered an ill-agreed to lunch date that had quickly proven to be destined to deteriorate at an alarming rate. My acquaintance had proven unreliable in her timing for our rigidly agreed upon time had come and gone without a single sign of her presence, and it was nearly an hour later when she appeared with two males in tow. One, it was quickly made clear, was her boyfriend, a nice man though more than a bit vulgar and assertively loud with opinions that were hardly any more correct than an ill-proven assessment of the constitution.
The other was a friend of his, and it seemed as if their purpose for being there was to be a distraction for myself while my acquaintance proceeded to eat nothing but the interior of her presumable lover’s mouth. Conversations lulled as they sucked face in a booth next to ours, and it was by the time that I had eaten a third of the large order of fries this poor soul was trying to convince me that eating anymore would be largely unattractive. And so, it was that my immediate demise was quickly coming surrounded by the scent of sickening food as I squared my shoulders and told him exactly what I thought of his sentiments.
By the time I had finished speak, the entire restaurant had gone silent, even the sound of the cheaply imported patties failed to be heard on the griddle top in the back. My acquaintance had even seen fit to stop attempting to remove the soul of her significant other to stare at me in horrified silence as if I had committed a social slight by voicing my opinion. For all I knew, I had.
Do you know what it feels like to reduce a grown man to tears? It is possibly one of the most glorifying feelings you will ever have that lasts approximately six seconds before horrendous guilt sets in. Even I, the self-proclaimed social outcast of my age group, understood that reducing a grown man to tears in a restaurant was a crossing of barriers that should have been left intact. It took all of twenty seconds after the guilt had set in, approximately half a minute after I’d finished speaking, for half a dozen others to make their opinions known.
The nail in the proverbial coffin however was my acquaintance, perhaps I should explain that we were only acquaintances from the distant brushing past each other in the development meetings of the commonly shared library where we worked and nothing more could be said about us in the ways of any relationship, standing up and screaming at me about how could I embarrass her anymore in front of her boyfriend. I suppose it didn’t help my situation to remain above the level of a social pariah when I responded to this by reminding her I had not invited the men along in the first place. As I left, my head held high as if I were taking a walk of shame through the remains of my social life, I could hear her comforting the man, trying to convince him that I only needed time to come around.
If only death could be bribed to strike down acquaintances that seemed determined to play matchmakers unbidden.