We are on holiday. It is the last night, and we are eating in an unremarkable bar and grill for the sole reason of it being a short tramp down a steep hill from our hotel, and thus meaning that we can both drink booze.
It is quiet, and the middle-aged waitress made a point of greeting us warmly and with some happy surprise when we arrived. We cant decide if this is because we mistakenly overtipped the first time, or because theyre not used to people eating there twice. We suspect it to be the latter.
But after a day of walking across dunes and paddling in cold ocean and running around trees for no reason, not to mention sitting in the car trying not to have nine concurrent anxiety attacks about flying off cliffs and road-familiar locals driving twice the speed limit and right up your arse, we are happy to eat anything, so a plate of MEAT with a side of No, Im not sure either and an accompanying plate of do you want these? is fine. Absolutely fine. As long as it has next to it a glass of local beer or wine or, frankly, home-brewed broccoli-bourbon, whatever – I do not care a jot.
There is a rustle of waterproof coats against warm fuzzy jumpers with patterns of dogs on. It comes from the booth behind us. Two couples sit down and start loudly discussing the weather (cold, but nice) the decor (traditional, with a touch of nostalgic hippy and a dash of surf chic – so a framed piece of tie-dye with a jellyfish painted on it, basically), their holiday, the car, what their kids are probably doing in their absence, the economy, the traffic and a few other things. Very loudly. After all that, they open the menus.
This chicken sounds nice
Its stuffed with chorizo.
Oh. Thats Portuguese, isnt it?
No, its Mexican
Well, whatever: Its too spicy for me.
I sit at the table behind biting my lip. My Beloved looks resigned to forfeiting the rest of a romantic dinner to eavesdropping. Well, I dont believe its eavesdropping when people are shouting, is it? No, it isnt. Besides, this is the man who quite happily bought a bumper collection of old postcards from a flea market and sat watching the sun go down drinking wine and reading particularly choice ones out loud. People watching is what we likes. And people-listening. Oh. And people-reading. You know what I meant.
I am now looking at him, mouth flapping a little like someone waving a goldfish about, taking sharp little intakes of breath I take when building up to saying something (it is a shyness/confidence thing. I sometimes have to write things in my head first). Although there is a very similar kind of sausage from Portugal, it is with a slightly different name, I think. It would be chourico, perhaps? (Lucy will set me straight, I know it). The chorizo on the menu, and most chorizo, is from Spain. I open my mouth to point this out. He kicks me.
Its not that I think everyone should know everything. There are plenty of things – I realise new things every day – that I do not know. Todays thing was about a philosophical argument involving turtles that we shall most likely go into another time.
It is just that schoolgirl impulse of wanting to put my hand up and go OOH! Me! ME! I know this one! Ask ME! and correctly rattle off the small piece of trivia I have collected and didnt know when I would get to use until that moment.
But you cant do that in real life, because people look at you funny. And, weirdly, dont like you providing them with the correct answer to the question theyre asking if they havent asked you, werent talking to you, and might possibly think that if it werent for them, youd be speaking German, you overbearing British smartass.
It probably took My Beloved quite a while to communicate all of that to me once more through the power of staring. But by the time he had finished, they had returned to the subject.
I quite like the sound of this, apart from that Portuguese stuff
The Chorizo? No, no, sweetie. Its Mexican
Actually the waitress butted in. My heart swelled with excitement of a possibly knowledgeable interjection. Shed surely shown herself more than proficient at memorising specials of the day – this must have crept in there somewhere?
Actually she said Its Italian
Well, whatever. said the first woman. Its too spicy for me.
They managed to ignore pained noise from the table behind them as he kicked me lightly again.
Its not even that fucking spicy.