The waiter comes and you order a vodka tonic. You scan the room as one does when sitting alone and notice most people are on dates, or at least that's what it seems, talking about their lives, laughing at jokes, enjoying each other, together.
Your cocktail arrives. You sip your cocktail, page through the menu and you're surprised how beautiful raw vegetables can be. You think you might just order and not eat but stare at the plate and admire the creation, the harmony and colors connecting and contrasting and—it's getting late, you think, and you look at your watch and try not to worry. He’s only a half-hour late. No big deal. You take out your phone and think to call but remember what attracted you to him in the first place: a self-imposed neo-Quaker lifestyle (his words, not yours) which means: no computers, cars and, above all, mobile phones. You put away your phone, order another drink, look at the menu and all the pretty vegetables. You decide to order some food, an appetizer maybe, and you call the waiter and tell him you want the shaved yucca and kale (or is it chard?) and the waiter nods and walks away.
You wait, drinking your drink. You finish the vodka tonic and ask for another. Or you try to but the waiter is gone and you look around for him and notice all the others, the couples, eating and smiling, having fun. And for a moment this makes you happy, seeing them around you, until you look at your table, the menu and empty chair, and the sadness you feel is a familiar one.
The waiter is back, appetizer in hand: three thin strips of yucca on a bed of greens. It doesn't look like the appetizer you ordered. You look at the menu, back at the appetizer, and back at the menu again. The waiter puts the appetizer down and you look at it and think how yucca is actually quite plain, bland, ugly. A strong feeling of hate for yucca overwhelms you, especially for the yucca on the plate. You look at the yucca, for a long time, quietly trying not to throw the plate when you feel the tear running down your cheek. He’s late, really late, probably not coming, you think.
You take a deep breathe and decide to do the same thing the last time this happened: get completely wasted. You push the yucca aside and look for the waiter. He's walking by and you tell him you want a vodka tonic—no, make it a whiskey, double, you say, and you look at the ugly plate of yucca and greens and think you might need some food, some real food, and you ask for bread too. The waiter shakes his head. No bread? Alright, fine, just bring me the whiskey, alright?
This shit happens, you think, to everyone, anyone really looking for someone to share their life with, and it’s not that bad treating yourself to a date, a date with yourself and it doesn't matter that he's not coming because you don’t really need him anyways. Who needs people? you think. Not me.
Your whiskey arrives. You pick up the glass and look at the ice and beads of water on the glass. You smile and hold the glass high and say: To me. To me! and you say it again but now it's more like a call, a yell, a declaration!, and the couples start to look over at you. You stand, holding your glass high in the air, turn to everyone watching, smile and say: To me! turning and smiling at all the couples in the room. You see a person lift their glass, and another, and you laugh as the couples start lifting their glasses, some wine glasses and cocktail glasses, some water glasses and tumblers. They say: To you! To you! To you! like a chant of toasts around the dining room. You look at all the couples in the room, their glasses held high, and you smile before you put your glass to your lips, tilt your head back and swallow the whiskey thinking that it goes down so smooth, so easy, without any effort at all.