I hear a old Harley rumble by the busy street my local pizza bar is located. It’s rustic looks mixed with fine art offer a visual flavour that resembles something out of New Orleans. A mix of old and new clashing into a unique mix.
I get the window by the street usually. Large garage door style windows allows a street style eating minus the actual hassles of being outside.
I often come to sit alone. If I was in Paris it would be a French cafe. But I am not. So this trendy little pizza bar has suited my needs thus far. This is my artist retreat.
The summer has been hot and I feel the wind bush my face. Offering timid comfort in such hostile times. I come here to be inspired. Why? I am not entirely sure. I rarely come up with genius. And even rarer am I here for anything other then a cold beer in my moments of solitude.
However it maybe, I am here once a week.
At my service is a young blonde waitress. About a year or two removed from college.
Although both of us now live downtown. In conversation, we have learned we grew up in the same neighbourhood. Me being the better part of a decade her senior, would remove us from any of the social circles we belonged.
About 5 years is the age range where you’d associate with any older siblings. Anything more and it’s a generation removed. She was very much a generation removed.
I’d would be lying if I said, I had not stared at her. Wondering snotty nosed brat she was. But it would be hard to tell. She’s grown tall, pretty cute and is far from the rug rats thats ran around the neighbourhood when i was a teen. Regardless we shared a bond. Two lost souls from our old home town. Trying to find ourselves in the big city.
We developed a on going conversation. That would start when I got there and to be continued the moment I got the bill. So we would have 3 drinks to continue the story or finish explaining a certain event.
Over time this almost became a game. A “thing” we did.
What was funny, was we forgot each others name after the initial introduction. After a certain point it became awkward to actually ask again. So we would just avoid addressing each other directly. Regardless, we knew the roles to be played.
So the story would carry on. The key it seemed was once one ends. You Segway to the next story. Only to be cut short.
Often it’s places we’ve been and places we want to go. Jokes of the old neighbourhood.
We would call it, the home town engagement. People would get pregnant thinking the other would stay. Sadly these train wreck relationships were far too frequent.
Well, I never said we came from the most cultured of hometowns.
Over time we got along well.
A little too well. Her boss would start to cut conversations short. Often I’d tell her. It’s ok, I know it’s busy.
Solution. The late night beer before bed, would quickly transition to the happy hour drink. Fortunately for us and unfortunate for her boss. It was dead hour here. Far removed from the big busy offices. This place relied on the local weekend business.
Then it became apparent the issue wasn’t her attention away from customers. So much as her attention towards me. After a unjustifiable scolding. I asked for the bill.
Upon getting it I asked. “Sorry, it’s been a year or two. But what is your name again?”
We laughed and she said, “Next time.”
I avoided the place for a week or two. I heard her response as I left. She wasn’t happy about making customers feel welcomed. Being, well, unwelcomed.
A week rolled by, maybe two. Hoping things have subsided I returned.
So what was her name? Maybe it’s time for the punch line for this little story.
As I walked through the doors. I saw the boss stare at me with these eyes that said, “You.”
I took my seat, same time, same place. As I waited to hear, “Stella?”
I was greeted with, “Hello, what would you like today?”
Same time, same place, and a new face. As I turned, my hometown face was replaced with a new one.
"My name is…"