Sitting in an ancient diner full of ancient Hoosiers, sipping weak Midwestern-strength coffee, watching the sun rise to the east. It's a thing of beauty, sure, watching shades of gray and indigo give way to reds and yellows and pinks across the lines in working people's faces...
Seriously, a few years ago, eating "breakfast" meant sucking down a greasy plate of eggs and bacon before hitting the sack, a quick, sloppy meal in preparation for a few hours of sleep - I used to be one of those guys who believed that starting the day early meant getting up before the ass-crack of noon. Now, well, sleeping in, for me, is being in bed at 9 a.m.
I've become, and without much regret, something of a morning person.
My dining companion is not. And this isn't exactly a breakfast meeting either of us what to have. But, through an odd quirk of life, we're obligated to hold nonetheless.
"Man, how the hell are you up this early? When I called you were going out drinking. That was, what? Midnight? I hit the road at two or so..."
"Got to bed by two-thirty, and, well, the alarm went off at seven."
"Um, most normal people turn their alarm clocks off on the weekends."
"Well, I'm not exactly the most normal guy."
Buttercup* swirled her coffee-flavored creamy sugar, nodded.
"You know, you're such a fucking Townie. You don't really change, your style doesn't change, and... well, in all honesty, dude, I'm not shocked you're in that fucking town. You're boring as hell..."
"Chica, I am a creature of habit. And what's wrong with Townies--"
Just then the waitress arrived with our food - huge plates of bacon and sausage and eggs, hash browns and biscuits. Buttercup immediately tore into her plate - she'd been on the road for a while after playing Designated Driver all night.
Apparently, she's doing better with the whole anorexia thing, I thought as I watched her eat.
* * * *
We were supposed to have breakfast in Oxford. Plans changed when I informed her that this was Parents Weekend at the ol' Local U, that we'd be waiting for hours just to cram into the few breakfast places Oxford has.
And, well, she'd have to make a detour on her trip from Cleveland to Indianapolis, a 60-mile detour back to a town she, in all honesty, has no desire whatsoever to ever step foot in again.
Hell, she'd never wanted to step foot in Cleveland again. But, well, a person she didn't even like had died, and, well, in true Roman Catholic fashion she'd driven back to her hometown to spend time mourning over that loss with people she can't fucking stand.
"... Oh, hey! Before I forget... Mom told me to tell you hi. Says I'm supposed to ask you about some black chick you're seeing."
"Oh, huh... well, I was seeing this multi-ethnic chick a while back, but we--"
"Heard she was a child, dude. A kid or something? Like, really, really too young for you. And what the fuck is 'multi-ethnic,' dude?"
Caught off guard. It's a trait of those with a vagina in her family.
"______ was 22, just so you know. Good kid. Just didn't work out. And we weren't dating or anything--"
"Oh, it was 'just a fling,' right? Like I said, you don't change."
This time, I'm the one snickering. More of a smirk, really. I've been told by Buttercup and God knows how many women I've slept with that this is one of my most condescending qualities.
* * * *
"Well, how old were you, Missy, when we were hooking up? About the same age, if I recall... but, well, refresh my old-ass memory here..."
The conversation ends for a second. We both killed off our breakfasts at the same time. And then, out of nowhere, in true Buttercup fashion, a melodramatic sigh and tossing of hair, a lesson in eye-rolling perfection.
As funny as it may seem, I once found these displays of hers to be quite the turn-on. But, well, as we sat there, I found it hard to believe that we'd ever slept together, that she'd been my first real local relationship attempt...
"Oh, well... since you didn't go all emo and blog about it - not that I read that fucking thing anymore - I guess the age thing didn't matter, huh?"
In hindsight, well, I'm thinking that was meant to cut deep.
As we talked, I just laughed.
Oh sure... it'd be kinda boring if I did put up every damned relationship, hook-up, and breakup online...
* * * *
As we were leaving, she bummed a smoke. Supposedly still a militant anti-smoker, well, she's always had this nasty habit of lecturing people about their vices while simultaneously asking to share in them - at no cost to her, of course.
I dropped the tailgate of my pick-up, and we sat there, in silence, for a long time listening to the buzzing, increasingly congested Interstate traffic in the distance.
"Ya know, don't take this the wrong way, but I can't believe we ever hooked up. I mean, EVER, dude. You're really not my type."
Buttercup crushed out her bummed smoke on the pickup bed, tossed the butt to the side, then, without asking, took another of my smokes from the pack.
"Meh... if I had a type, you'd probably not be mine, either," I said, lighting her cigarette. "I mean, maybe it's because we were just... lonely? Oxford's made people do strange things, chica."
Buttercup laughed and put her hand on my calf. As I turned my head, I noticed she had this impish look, those big brownish-green orbs on each side of her cute nose dancing with her eyelashes...
Okay, so maybe I do know why we hooked up in the first place, years ago... The eyes, well, and her Eggplant Parmesan...
I realized she was mockingly fluttering her eyelashes. Apparently, I'd stared a bit too long...
"Okay... dude... I think we hooked up because you're really smart and used to date a famous chick, and, well, let's be honest here, I'm smoking hot and kinda shallow, and we both fuck and fight like animals. But, yeah, it probably was the loneliness..."
"...And the boredom, hon," I added, lighting another cigarette. "God, I mean, we were only hanging out for, what, a few months, weeks? And how much of that was just arguing..."
Buttercup, again, does the fluttery eyelash thing. This time, her creepy, perfectly plucked eyebrows rise like the tide. She looked away, stood up suddenly. The eleven-year-old shocks barely moved with the loss of such light weight.
She had to hit the road to make it back to Indy in time to meet up with another, more recent, ex, to get the keys back to her apartment and to finalize what sounded to be a nasty break-up.
The guy in question, she said, reminded her of me. I took her statement as a compliment.
Without so much as a hug or goodbye, I watched as she sped off for the westward on-ramp...
- # # # -
* NOTE - Name changed to protect the guilty.