June 5, 2020

Pre-Order

did you pre-order the smiling hostess asks
I shake my head no, and she says to go upstairs
I trudge up the small wooden stairs with 20 coats of brown paint
downtown lunch hour and it’s 40 minutes to cook deep dish
so you better pre-order unless you just want a quick bite or make your own lunch schedule
I sit down and look at the glossy menu with the pretty generic pictures
pizzas, italian beefs, strombolis, calzones, chicken parmigiana sandwiches 
beer domestic or imported- wine for the connoisseurs 
I decide for the deep dish, I got plenty of time 
I order and then stare at my phone- like a long lost friend 
a life preserver in a raging sea of awkwardness 
at the table next to me is two fast approaching middle age women and a guy from a 1950’s coffee table magazine 
who asks one of the women “how is your mother in terms of health?”
they look bored out of their skulls but he must be paying
plastic plants desperately look like they need some water
cliche checkerboard tablecloths on the tables pictures of local celebrities on the walls
little gun metal gray elevator dings when they send something up from the kitchen
mister balding, black frame glasses glances at his designer timex and says to the two women “Let's rock and roll” 
probably an exciting insurance seminar to get to 
no reaction from the two casting agency office women 
they just look at each other with blank stares
as animated as the plastic plants

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