Oh. He’s looking at me funny. Yep. He’s cocking his head and scrunching up his nose. It’s definitely coming. Uh huh…here he goes!
“Did that hurt?”
I play dumb. I know exactly what he’s referencing because it’s the same question I’ve encountered five times in two days. I’m baffled by my new citizenship of a freak-dom that I’ve never known to exist on the coasts. And I’m not exactly sure why this is my response, but I play dumb.
“Did what hurt?”
“That nose ring,” he says and points at my face.
There’s something about having a finger pointed at my face that makes me feel subconscious and so I full-stop the conversation with, “Nope. Hey, this portabella mushroom is excellent.”
“Is it?” he asks.
A bit of a strange response, I note, to get from the waiter that has just served me the dish I’m complimenting. This time I cock my head at him, to which he responds…
“Do you have vegatitis?”
Okay; that’s not a direct quote. He actually asks me if I’m a vegetarian. But there’s something in the curve of his question mark that insinuates that vegetarianism is something one picks up from an infested mattress. And by the amount of time it took for me to find the single meat-less option on a 6-page menu, I hypothesize that not many of “my type” are found in these parts. But I recognize his innocent curiosity because I’ve gotten the same line of questions from my niece and so I decide to drop my, “I’m-entitled-to-oddness” act and answer affirmatively and with sincerity.
Having rarely wandered so far from the West Coast (where nose rings and rabbit-food habits are but hardly noticed), I’m still surprised when he shakes his head in incredibility and asks, “But why?”
“Well, because I try to live a life free of both direct and indirect violence,” I answer honestly. Recognizing that this statement is a deep well to simply dip into without commitment and consent, I give the comment a minute to settle. He peers over the edge, squints his eyes, does a quick estimation of depth, and instead shrugs and turns to tend to his other tables.
I return to my book and copy from it a quote into my journal, “There are days when spelling Tuesday simply doesn’t count.” – Rabbit
I glance at my watch and wonder briefly again when I became I watch-watching person. “When I started needing to catch flights on time,” I answer myself. I pull out my company credit card and put it on the table.
The waiter returns. He picks up the card and reads the inscription under my name. “What’s a WTB Dragon?” he asks.
I think this is very funny. But I smuggle my laugh because I don’t want him to think I’m laughing at him. “It’s who I work for,” I answer.
“Ah. Business woman,” he says and walks away. But the impression of his assessment is left standing in my face…
“What? Business woman? Me?” I stand back, aghast and…insulted? Hum. I am wearing a long petticoat. And black slacks. And I have a laptop with me. And a rental car. And I DO have a company credit card. And I am traveling for work. Wait. Could it really be? Am I a business woman?!?
These questions are all swiftly spinning in my head as I sign the receipt, gather my belongings and head to the women’s bathroom. But when I push through the swinging door, the bickering in my head is suddenly deafened; outspoken by the volume of music that, for some reason, is blaring in stereo sound only in the restroom. I don’t consciously choose to step into the handicapped stall, but when a terribly joyful 90’s song, to which I’ve danced around many a campfire and know every word, comes on, I do consciously use every inch of the stall space to my stepping, sliding, spinning and singing advantage.
Quiet relieved with my unanticipated and unsuppressed dancing outburst, I wash my hands and mind of doubt and exit the bathroom.
“Businesswoman; That was funny!”