The Walrus Laughs | July 2011
Hi. All right. This is awkward. I don’t know if you held my gaze right then because of shock, or horror, but the only reason I held yours was because every brain cell I have was focused on shoving that gigantic dynamite roll into my face. I feel like I should explain. I figure the more we collectively understand about this situation, the easier it will be for us to move forward.
So, first I managed to get the whole piece secured between my chopsticks — a feat in itself, if you ask me. I lifted it out of the plastic tray toward my open mouth and managed to wedge one of the sticks inside the right side of my mouth. We’re fucking doing this, gigantic piece of sushi. Next, I did a slight twist of the wrist to get the left side secured, but the tip of the second stick went straight into my upper lip. This is when our eyes locked, I think you’ll remember. Just as I stretched my lip up into a bit of a forced Elvis impersonation.
I don’t know what I did after that, really. Adrenaline kicked in. It was either fight or flight, and I opted for fight. Meanwhile, I had no concern for what my eyes were doing. And they were deadlocked with yours. It almost looked, in that first millisecond, like you hadn’t even seen what was going on with my mouth. Your eyes almost… smiled. But then I watched your gaze shift down slightly and your eyes widen.
At that point, I opted for brute force to try to dislodge the wayward chopstick, but it wasn’t budging. You put your hands on the table in front of you like you were about to come over and help, but then appeared to think better of it; your look of concerned citizen morphed into that of horrified onlooker.
I tried my tongue next. Eyes still locked. I tried to lick the piece of sushi into my mouth. And I failed. I don’t need to tell you this.
Pieces of rice tumbled off the sushi’s perimeter and cascaded, end over end, down my chin, projecting droplets of soy sauce in their wake. I stared on, wide-eyed, directly into your eyeballs. The whole thing plays in my mind like a slow-motion, high-definition montage of people getting hit in the junk with sports equipment.
So my tongue didn’t work, but I felt optimistic about four different ideas in my head. I ran through each of their pros and cons very rapidly. You’ll probably better remember this as the part where I seemed to freeze.
1. Get up and run. Out of there. Fast. I decided this would draw more attention to me, and if I’d tripped while escaping, there was a good chance one of the two chopsticks wedged in or around my mouth would impale my tonsils.
2. Slowly lower face to the plastic tray, quietly spit everything out of mouth, and pretend to nap. Face down. Some people nap after they eat, it’s not weird. Sometimes people nap before they eat, so why not during? I don’t know. Food, napping — it made sense.
3. Play it cool. Pause confidently, and use free hand to check phone for text messages. This way, I could pretend that I had received something very important, and then rip the dynamite roll out of my mouth like something terrible would happen if I didn’t get moving.
Side note: They say you know a woman is in the final stages of labour when her dignity goes out the window. The queen could walk in with a TV crew to present an impromptu “Hero of the Week” award, and that mother wouldn’t give a damn. Remind me never to order dynamite rolls when I’m in labour, because that shit will get crazy. (No, I’m not saying I hope you’ll father my children. You seem like you’d be great with kids, though… No. That’s not what this is about. But is it crazy that I noticed you don’t have a wedding ring? Just saying. Anyway.)
4. Purse lips together; try to slice sushi into more manageable pieces. I don’t know why they don’t make outdoor apparel out of seaweed, because that shit is durable. Jesus Christ. Like Japanese Gore-Tex.
Clearly, this explains why all the filling eventually fell onto my table, and why I had a ring of rice-covered seaweed dangling from my chin. In case you were wondering, no, I wasn’t trying to be funny, but I did appreciate your smile. Grimace. Whatever.
I probably should have moved more quickly to clean up the situation. But to be perfectly honest, I was relieved to have the painful strain on my lips subside, and just basked in that feeling for a quick few seconds. While… still… staring… at… you…
When I was finally able to break my gaze with you, yes, I guess I was trying to be cute when I looked coyly to my left as I delicately poked the floppy rice ring into my mouth and delicately dabbed at the soy-sauce goatee on my chin.
So, yeah… about moving forward… What I’m trying to get at is, would you like to go for coffee sometime?