walking home the other night, i stopped at a sports bar because it was open and i was hungry and the ihop was a mile away. i ordered my plain vegetarian version of the awful things they had on their menu. i hada copy of grace paley’s “enormous changes at the last minute” which i read until the food arrived.
it occurred to me, when i looked up to eat, that i was the only person in the room reading anything at all.
people didn’t read the menus. they knew what to order. people didn’t read each other’s sarcastic t-shirts: these were just excuses to ogle someone’s chest. people didn’t read the label of their bottles of beer; they peeled the labels off and left them rolled up like scrolls on their empty plates.
i ate. i paid. i finished my single beer. i put my book away. i left.
i have not returned to that place where people don’t read.