A Man at Meal (How do you know?)

He sat in his booth looking over the menu. The selection was good. Then the waitress approached the table and placed the chips and salsa and to his delight a bean dip on the table. Complimentary is so commendable. He immediately sampled the salsa, a nice blend with a bit of spice, the cilantro coming through nicely. After adding just a pinch of salt more to the chips it was time to test out the bean dip.

He took a large chip with nice curvature for the scooping action that would soon take place. He admired the occasional treat of finding a chip with a deep enough curve which aided in the obvious dipping motion that God had intended. He dipped the chip and upon a more tactile inspection he discovered the bean dip was a bit more runny then he first assumed. Still this did not detract from the dip, only the taste could do so.

He brought the chip to his mouth with the dripping bean dip and to his utter delight the taste was more than agreeable. He greedily went in for more and within minutes the chip bowl was about empty. He was taken aback at how quickly he had put it away and then further rejoiced when the waitress returned with his drink and more chips to take his order. He quickly ordered but got back to work at the new bowl of chips. The taste was transcendent as only Mexican food can be, truly Mexican food would be present at the marriage supper of the lamb? His enjoyment got the better of him when he started to see the bottom of the bowl. He started to slow down a bit realizing he might actually finish off a second bowl before his food actually arrived. Embarrassed by his consumptive prowess he moved the few remaining chips around to look like there was less bowl apparent that there was.

He sat and reflected on his fabulous lunch but now having trouble remembering what he had ordered. The chips and dip had done what good conversation or a good movie trailer could accomplish: make him forget details of the main event. He sat back taking a sip of his diet cola with added lime for good measure to discover that he spilled not a few drips of bean dip on his navy shirt. Appalled he quickly launched out his hand for a napkin nearly toppling his beverage, and knocking a fork to the side. Luckily we was spared that embarrassment but the noise had caused a few eyes to look his way. He sheepishly recovered the napkin and went to dabbing his shirt as inconspicuous as possible, between glances.

He was rubbing now and the little white lint bits of the paper napkins were adding spectrum to his dark shirt that were now unnaturally navy and brown. He stopped, realizing he was making it worse, he looked around to see if he stood out as much as he felt, but nobody really looked his way. He rose to go to the bathroom, but was stopped as the waitress returned with his order. He quickly covered his shirt with his hands but having the obvious effect of drawing more attention to it. He backed up and sat down still trying to block his disgrace. She looked him over and smiled covering a suspicious smirk and asked him if he needed anything.

“No, that will be all, thank you.” Was all he could muster. He looked over his Chimichanga which he now remembered ordering and after she left he quickly rose from the table. He threw open the bathroom door and feverishly pumped out the soap from the dispenser and soaked his shirt in the sink. His girlfriend had told him that it never worked but he tried anyway. He heard her voice say “You are only mashing it into the fabric.” He scrubbed with the paper towels getting a similar result. Now he had brown bits all in his fabric as well and his shirt front was mostly soaked. He decided then and there to take off his shirt and drench it in the sink and hopefully wash away the food and napkins bits. It kinda worked.

He switched tactics to using his finger nails which would leave behind no residue. Smart. He was getting on top of this after all. He smiled, he was finding victory. Then the door behind him opened. A man in a suit walked in and tried to hide the surprise at a half-naked young man doing his laundry in the sink. The new man just lowered his head and went on with his own business to the stall. He felt stupid but he had to clean his shirt, he had an interview in a half hour.

He wrung out his shirt and then pushed the jet warm air and unfolded his shirt trying desperately to dry it out and return some normalcy to the color the shirt which now had darkened wet splotches all over it. It was not a warm dryer, the air was cold. Later, after having to restart the thing several times and an embarrassing exchange between the other man trying to dry his own hands, finally, he felt that the shirt was mostly passable again. He held it up for inspection. “This will have to do.”  He placed the now somewhat cold shirt back on and lied to himself in the mirror about how his hair was also not too messed up now.

He returned to his now lukewarm Chimichanga and began eating it. He took a few bites which were again delightful. A few more minutes into his meal he came to a rough section near the middle. He checked his watch and to his horror he only had about fifteen minutes to go so he quickly drove his knife into the tortilla trying to cut through, but the knife was very cheap which meant he had to apply more force than was usually needed and the knife slipped and squashed the piece instead, splashing salsa and sour cream on his shirt and now some landing on his pants. He almost swore but he kept his cool. He approached the counter and asked for the check to be sent to his table and returned to the bathroom.

He was flinging water and soap everywhere it seemed and the stains were only lightening, slightly. At least he had on a dark shirt, small comfort. This is why he typically wore dark colors, he remembered telling his girlfriend. He was out of time and he knew it. The building was across the street and he had to move. He quickened his pace scooping up the bill and dropping a twenty in its place. He then moved with passion out the front door. The warm sun calmed him if only a little and he made his way across the street.

He again checked his shirt which now looked like a spotted dark shirt with other dark spots and very wrinkly and let’s be honest, quite wet. He adjusted it anyway and tucked it in, holding his hand over the stain on his pants. He entered the old building. He approached the lady in the office and said. “Hi, I am here for the interview, the Youth Pastor position.” She looked him over and didn’t hide the frown on her face.

“Ok…you should have a seat over there.” She said pointing off to the right almost reconsidering her usual response. “We will be with you in a few minutes.” The young man went over to sit in his chair again attempting to hide his shirt without looking like he was hiding his shirt. The lady immediately rolled her chair back and began a conversation just out of his earshot.

“Did you see the applicant?” She said all gossipy to another assistant. “He looked, well about as unprofessional as possible?” She said shaking her head. The other lady waited for an opportune moment to take a glance.

Leaning just into view. “Oh dear, do you think he always goes out like that?” She said also shaking her head but quickly drawing it back.

“Perhaps he has no other clothes?” She commented trying to understand.

“Even if you only had one good shirt, you would at least wash it.” She said looking down and pushing the soft textures of her dress.

“Well he is not getting the job if he cares that little for his appearance.” The first lady said nodding to her own comment. “Do you think he just doesn’t have a clue?” She mused aloud, but not too loud.

“How can you not have a clue about how you appear? He probably just doesn’t know any better?” The second lady said shrugging holding a ream of paper to her chest as if it protected her from the silly man.

“Maybe, but what does that say about your life, what else does he not understand?” She said sitting back in her chair sipping her afternoon coffee.

“Maybe he is one of those youths who just doesn’t care or place value in such things?” She said truly trying to uncover the mystery.

“Hmm…” Said the other thinking she gained some understanding. “He is probably one of those guys who thinks that these kinds of things don’t matter and that he should be able to dress how he wants. A lot of kids are like that, I mean did you see his ridiculous beard.” Met again with a nod the other lady continued.

You know, my husband was telling me about some of the youth these days at his work. They don’t care, in fact they dress offensive on purpose just to make a point.” She smiled having gained the top of the matter.

“Well what is the point, besides not getting a job? ha ha ha.” She said tutting to herself.

“Well some of them just want to fit in, to culture, but some of them are really trying to throw off the idea that there should be any order to society at all.” She said taking a another drink of her coffee.

“Ah, like those men wearing dresses and the women dying and cutting their hair to look like men?” She said stealing another glance. “Yeah I know what you are talking about, we talked about this at small group, simply despicable. He’s not wearing a dress but his pants are probably too tight.” More tutting.

Just then the door opened and in walked several men. He looked up and to the young man’s horror he noticed the man from the restaurant amongst a couple of others. He was laughing and shaking another young man’s hand who, looked like he hadn’t just cleaned his clothes in a restaurant’s sink. He even had a tie on! “I’m done for sure.” He said to himself. He successfully avoided eye contact and wanted to cry. Just then he heard the words he was dreading.

“Hello Pastor, your one O’clock is here.” She said pointing, and to his horror, the one whom he didn’t want to be the pastor looked over at him with a glimmer of recognition. The pastor quickly dismissed the others and approached the young man.

“Hello, young man, had some trouble with your shirt did you? The food was good enough though wasn’t it?” To the young man’s surprise there was a bit of a smile on his face, with an outstretched hand, but…

Yes” crestfallen the young man looked down for a moment. “It was…so…should I just head home now sir?” Was all he could muster.

“Well you could, but then I would be left with nothing but the impression that there was little more to you than ridiculous laundry methods. I do try not to judge a book by its cover.” He smiled again. “Shall we…?” He spread wide his arm and pointed the way.

“Thank you, Sir” The young man stood with his dignity restored walked by two slightly embarrassed looking women, but they hid it well.

The interview went well.

thanks…now I am hungry

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