August 23, 2018

Marlon Brando Voice

I went down to that old white shack of a restaurant more times than I can remember or care to remember...it was next to some railroad tracks that disappeared around a bend and then stretched its legs out...it had a big screen porch; tables were covered with tablecloths it looked like Pizza Hut had used for 20 years and then thrown out...sometimes the trains would rumble by blasting their horn as they approached the crossing (which didn’t have any warning lights)...the food was so-so, liquor was a no-no...I usually ordered the chicken and they say you are what you eat, and that was never more appropriate than in my case...I went there...I went there to look at her...she was sixteen or so...I was never found out or was my ulterior motive ever found out...my loss...I was seventeen going on twelve when I was around her and had fallen hopelessly in love...she was so young and innocent looking, although I don’t know how innocent she actually was...but she seemed sweet...maybe she could save me from whatever it was that I needed saving from...I think she could have, or at least I like to think so...she waited tables and when she came over to mine, I tried to be cool but I was a tongue tied fool and never could get the words out...at least not the words I wanted to get out...no matter how much I rehearsed my ad-libs, it just didn’t happen...I might be kidding myself, but I think she was waiting for me to make my move, but my move never came...I thought about having a couple of drinks to loosen up, but then thought the better of it...nobody’s interested in a fourth-rate teenage Romeo who slurs his words...what I wanted to say just didn't get said...I spent the summer thinking about that failure to communicate and about her...I think they call them crushes because you usually get crushed in the end, like a piece of ice...like when the other person’s enthusiasm doesn’t match yours, or for whatever reason...June turned into July which turned into August which turned into a dreary rainy autumn when it felt like everything in the world was dying...at the start of football season September, I went a few more times to that restaurant absolutely confident that this time I would succeed, but for some reason she wasn’t there...I left knowing that this would have been the time I’d ask her out...of course, it’s easy to be confident about something you would have done when you didn’t have the opportunity to do it...maybe her parents didn’t come down to their cabin after summer...or maybe she quit...or maybe something...oh well, maybe next spring I’d see her again...but I didn’t and forgot about her and the crushed ice melted away into a puddle and dried up...old chapters ended and new ones began and about ten years later, I went back to the town to visit an old friend...he’d just gotten out of the hospital and needed some cheering up and selfishly it sounded like a good idea to get out of the Florida heat for a while...we wound up at a spoon greasier than most in this little tiny town that wasn’t far away from the old restaurant and damn if the girl (now a woman) at the cash register didn’t look like her...a little older maybe and she had put on a little weight, but I did think it was her...after we finished sopping up the country gravy with our buttermilk biscuits on carnival colored plates, it was time to go so I got up and went over to the register and I still wasn’t sure but when I paid my bill but she looked at me and smiled and said “You look familiar”...I didn’t want to admit to being the doofus from all those years ago, so I just muttered something like “Oh really?” in my best unintelligible Marlon Brando grunt/voice, put my head down, paid my bill and left.