Mr. Lucky and I went out for a late lunch at an all-you-can-eat pizza buffet that was practically deserted—save for another couple on the far side of the room. We sat at a table across from each other. I’ve never counted the tables and chairs or checked the Maximum Occupancy sign, but the entire establishment can seat over a hundred patrons at once.
After a while, the other couple got up and left. Then an average-looking fortyish man in a baseball cap came in, affably chatting with the cashier while Mr. Lucky got up to load another plate at the buffet, and I remained at our table.
I didn’t notice anything unusual going on until we got up to leave some time later. Imagine my surprise to see that man sitting in the chair directly behind mine, dunking his bread stick into a bowl of marinara sauce.
Had I pushed my chair back just another couple of inches, it would have smacked into his or worse, we’d have an embarrassment of tangled legs—chair legs, chair legs! As it was, I wondered how I hadn’t even been aware that he’d sat down behind me. Neurotic, mistrustful creature that I am, I’m usually very sensitive about my sacred space and who dares to hover along its extensive periphery. He must have been very stealthy about it.
And why did he choose to sit there of all places, when there were more than a hundred other places he could have sat—some of them closer to the buffet, others closer to the televisions, still others near the restrooms and emergency exits.
At the very least, why didn’t he sit on the other side of the table behind me?
I’m not one of those women who slings her purse over the back of her chair—I keep it between my feet with the strap over one knee—so I don’t think he was after the purse.
Even Mr. Lucky was initially baffled when he returned to our table and saw this man’s back only inches from mine, but he said nothing until after we left. No doubt he knew it would freak me out if I’d been aware of this bewildering development, and he’d just sat down with a plate piled high with slices of pizza that he meant to enjoy.
By the time we reached our car, Mr. Lucky thought he knew what that man was up to: “He saw you sitting there alone, so he assumed you were single and saw an opportunity. He was probably hoping to hit on you.”
It wasn’t until we got home that I finally managed to stop laughing at such a preposterous notion. So the guy was scheming to pull the old and thoroughly pitiful, “Excuse me, but could I borrow your salt shaker?” stunt.
Next he’d ask to borrow the pepper, followed by a request for a few napkins and a painfully obvious, totally lame, “So you like pepperoni, huh? Everyone seems to like pepperoni, why is that?”, and if all went according to his tired, worn out, dog-eared, grease-spotted script, I would soon tell him how silly it was for us to keep chitchatting over our shoulders, and invite him to join me at my table.
But for the return of my husband.
Honestly, I didn’t think I looked that desperate. Pathetic, maybe.