Samplings

We were freshening up before going out to eat and catching up on the day at the same time.

“I got the sales tax report done and also put your letter in the mailbox for pickup,” I said, running a comb through my hair.

“My what?”

“Your letter. You know, the yellow envelope you left for me to put out in the mail.”

“Ah, that was my stool sample.”

“Oh. My. Gosh.” I slammed my comb down on the marble … because I like drama. “I cannot be-lieve I held that and carried it out to the mailbox.” I put my hands on my hips and looked at him in the face and then in his face in the mirror we were standing in front of. It was a test kit for colon cancer screening on its way to a lab. “What were you thinking? You didn’t even need to bother with that. You just had a colonoscopy, for cryin’ out loud.”

“It was free.”

“Free? You did it because it was free?”

“Yeah, I do it every year. It’s a service my insurance provides. We could do you, if you want. They send a little brush — ”

“Never mind! But you’re gonna have to start walking your own samples to the mailbox.”

A half hour later we were sitting in Amerigo’s in Cool Springs eating Cheese Fritters — the recipe is in Bon Appetit, and then I had Goat Cheese Pasta and he had Veal Saltimbocca.

It wasn’t so tonight, but usually I’m very distractible when I’m eating out in a restaurant, surrounded by tables filled with happy folks, all engaged in conversation. One ear gets pulled to the table behind me, while the other goes toward the table across the aisle. I also try to snatch a sampling from two tables away. I just can’t help but listen. I stare at the couple seated at Table B and keep an eye on the family at Table C, meanwhile causing gaps in conversation with my own table partner, thus having to say, “Huh? What’d you say?”

It reminds me of a writing exercise in The Pocket Muse, guaranteed to provide interesting plot and dialogue:

“Go to a restaurant with somebody patient. Pretend to be listening to him while you eat. Meanwhile, grab a swatch of conversation from Table A and another swatch from Table B. Combine and enjoy.”

This makes me glad that the stool sample dialogue took place in the privacy of my home, because I’d hate to think that some poor writer in need of news or muse or stimulation was catching a swatch of that.

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One Comment on “Samplings”

  1. Eric says:

    ….hmmm…. Winston is one shrewd fellow……. he and I need to have more drinks together…… while I take notes…..


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