In a world where to believe anything at all is to be mistaken, where truths and untruths dance together like hormonal teenagers, and where certainty is a danger sign, I dare to believe.
I breathe deep, set my molars neatly top upon bottom, and believe. In lunch. To be specific, lunch out.
To me, the healing communality of breaking bread is all too obvious — food for the soul, a time for sharing and familial bonding, a metaphor for love served up all hot and comforting. All that Norman Rockwell stuff, a theme so undeniably universal and gut-true, I don’t think about whether I believe in it, any more than I think about believing in weather. It just is.
But a belief in lunch, especially lunch taken alone, requires commitment. I believe in using that middle part of my day, the part that comes between slam-bam rush of breakfast and the confounding daily job of creating dinner, to be alone with my thoughts and my meal. Or sometimes to be alone with the daily newspaper, or my book, or maybe just a menu shined and dented by hungry pointer fingers. Really, I believe in using lunch just to be alone.
Usually, I am restricted, by time or finances or fatigue, to believing in a homemade lunch of reheated leftovers or something environmentally unsound and soul-killing from a little box in the freezer. And it does the trick. But when the planets align and the numbers in the checkbook look friendly, I really, really believe in going out to lunch.
Maybe it’s an emotional hangover from the debt-heavy, macaroni-and-cheese part of my childhood that makes going out for lunch seem like a promise. Or from my later teenage years, when my mother and I were able to go out just any old time, each of us taking along our book of the moment and eating together — but alone — in perfect, happy, symbiotic silence.
Or maybe it’s because I am not at work, I am not in the car, I am no one’s mother or wife or clean-up crew, and I can do as I please, eat what I want—even pay extra for the wild salmon—without explaining myself or sharing a bite.
The menu was created for my enjoyment, the salmon flown in fresh for my delectation. The waiters and the cooks got up this morning and showered and dressed to come do this job at this place — for me, at lunch. All that’s required of me is a relatively small amount of money and a polite smile.
For this one hour of my day, I am only me. For this one hour, no one is there, nibbling around the edges of that me, greedy, always wanting more.
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