August 24, 2005

the sg

every aspect of food service here has some kind of social component. since all the food is made to order, you usually stand around for a while as they make it. i feel bad for the cooks, since i know that i hate nothing more than being watched while doing something by the person who asked me to do it, and this is what they go through all day long. (it’s also why i don’t order stuff that isn’t on the menu. as much as they oblige, there can’t be anything worse than not only being watched making food for people, but being watched while you make someone’s special food, exactly the way they asked you to, like you’re following directions from these prissy kids.)

anyway, this whole look-at-people-while-you-wait thing extends to every aspect of the food preparation here, which of course, includes smoothies. so naturally, when i found myself in the uncomfortable position of waiting for my order to be completed i felt obliged to make small talk with the smoothie girl, apparently, a fellow student. as best as i can recall we exchanged about two sentences and some forced laughter. at this point the girlfriend, mistaking my social discomfort for flirting, made the frighteningly direct suggestion that she and i get to know each other better and walked off in a huff.

knowing that i would no longer be able to obtain smoothies due to this imbroglio, i was able, by recalling past evidence of my obliviousness to interpersonal signals from strangers to convince her that what she just stormed away from was not flirting. though she believed that i wasn’t, she maintained that the food service worker thenceforth referred to as “smoothie girl” was. i had my doubts, but i had to admit that it was possible.

and so began an uncomfortable standoff. occasionally encountering s.g. in dining halls, campus sidewalks and never at the smoothie dispensary i was forced into a lifetime of avoidance based on the embarassing memory. over time she grew into one of those miniature celebrities that people on the inside of an inside joke sometimes share (as in: “did you see crazy pigeon-feeding man today? he was wearing a newspaper hat!”). smoothie girl came to represent my girlfriend’s irrational jealousy; a walking reminder of the fact that i was way too boring to flirt with random food service workers and she was too blinded by my movie-star looks to realize it.

so when we encountered her, sitting a fair distance away at a table brunching, i naturally said, as per custom, “hey, smoothie girl is in line for waffles”

“is she holding hands with a girl?”

“yeah. hm. it’s probably some sorority thing…ok, now they’re kissing”

“waffle-line lesbians.”

“that’s hot. so i guess she wasn’t flirting with me after all.”