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    Tuesday, February 28, 2006

    The Face at the Restaurant

    [After talking with a reader of my blog, I feel I must make an addendum. This story is a memory. It happened awhile ago. As such, the details may not be totally accurate. I wrote it ambiguous on purpose because time didn't matter in the story, AND because I can't remember it all. Most importantly, the purpose of relating the story is to highlight life's many fork-in-the-road situations. How many times have you chosen one path, but wonder what would have happened if you had chosen the other? That does not mean you are unhappy or dissatisfied with the path chosen and outcome received--no, merely that you are cognizant of God's gift of free agency to individuals, to chose their actions, and as such, the numberless possibilities of human interactions in a world populated by over 6 billion of His children. For a Deity that knows "every time a sparrow falls" (if you read the Bible), that is an awe inspiring omniscience. I just muse over one instance in a long life of choices.]

    I'm in a reminiscing mood...here's another memory. This is one of many memories I have of people who are in my life for a short time, but the impression lasts so much longer.


    It was noon, and I was hungry. Not much to do, nowhere to go, so I stepped inside a restaurant I found on the side of the street for a quick bite to eat.

    It was a random restaurant...that's where everything memorable happens.

    I looked down at the menu, ordered, and looked up into the eyes of a beautiful girl. She looked up from her bowl, our eyes met, and then they darted downwards again in that "oops, I got caught" look that you get after realizing you're staring at someone.

    She was young, probably my age, with long dark hair, beautiful dark eyes, light blue blouse and black skirt. Again her eyes lifted from the bowl and met my newly returning gaze. Sometimes eyes can talk. Girls do this all the time--it drove me crazy in high school. Two girls look at each other, a second passes, and then giggles start. All the guys would look at each other and shrug.

    Yet this time I understood. With a slight smile and blushing cheeks she asked "So you're here alone too, huh?"

    "Yes," I replied, "what's a girl as pretty as you doing eating lunch alone?"

    "I don't think I'm that pretty...thanks. But life is what it is and I'm still waiting around for Mr. Right."

    "Well, I think you're being humble. I feel like I've known you before. What's your name?"

    "Me too. What's your name?"

    With that, the gaze broke, as she finished her meal and paid the waiter. Another quick glance, to extend the moment a while longer, and she stood up to leave. How come, no matter all the talking that goes on between eyes, you tell someone your name?

    I finished my food as she walked past me and called for the waiter. Paying quickly, I rose, and slipped out the door, causing the waiter to run out to me the bags I left under the table. Down the street, I saw her pause and look at something being sold on the curb. For a moment she turned back, and her fleeting gaze caught mine once more.

    "If this were a perfect world, you'd follow me, but it's not and I must go."

    With that she turned and faded into the sea of anonymous faces milling about the sidewalk. The valet brought my vehicle, and with a sigh, I drove off in the other direction...the face of a nameless girl forever etched in my mind.


    VietPundit said...

    This story is almost too good to be true. Did she really say ""If this were a perfect world, you'd follow me, but it's not and I must go."? Come on, man, why didn't you follow her?! Ah, what might have been ...

    VietPundit said...

    Re your addendum: As Yogi Berra said, "When you come to a fork on the road, take it."

    Triet said...

    Ah, Vietpundit, I remind you that the words were never said by mouth, only by look, and it has been awhile, so the details may not be perfect. By the important point is that's the impression that stuck with me. Why I didn't follow? I dunno. Partly was the split second decision--my slothfulness. Maybe I had a voice in my head tell me something better lies ahead. I don't know. But it makes the list as a big "what if." In fact, I think I am going to share more "what if's" in the next coming days. I'm in that sort of mood.

    VietPundit said...

    You're right, my mistake. Now that I've re-read the story, I see that those words were said by her eyes only; that makes the story even better! Yeah, share more!

    BTW, hope you're having a great time in Vietnam!

    Triet said...

    I'm having a great time in Vietnam. My only problem is that America is so far away! It takes so much time and money to go back and forth, that I can't do it easily. *sigh*