Contrary to what I thought, I was still a girl. The idea of being twenty-something gave me the idea I was an adult. My feelings, my passions, and my lusts seem to substantiate my delusions of maturity and wisdom. The truth is I was green with my naiveté and still believed in happy endings and dreams coming true.
He was an older man, which seem to validate my status as a woman. He was worldly, traveled, intelligent and adored by everyone, who was female. I remember watching him walk into a room full of people and within the hour he was flanked by women of all ages, listening to his ramblings of the world and how he made his mark. He was a rock star without the music and anyone with an XX chromosome was a giddy fan.
One night, he asked me to dinner. I bit my tongue to keep the smile from turning the corners of my mouth up. I looked down at my watch as if I had somewhere to be. “Okay,” I said, “but, I can not stay out late; I have an early morning.” There was no early in my morning; I had planed on sleeping in and lounging in my pajamas until noon.
Ever the gentleman, he opened all doors and took my coat. Perhaps, to impress me, he took me to his favorite Chinese restaurant, a little hole in the wall far from civilized society. He had found this little place by accident and kept it a closely guarded secret. This was his goldmine and only shared it with a selected few.
The hostess came out of her desk and gave him a hug. The owners, a husband and wife, scurried from the kitchen and called him by his first name. They began to converse with him in Mandarin, a language he had learned when living in China years ago. I do not know what he had said to the couple, but they looked at me smiling, grabbing my hands, and nodded.
We were seated at the best table and the menus were immediately given to us. I did not have enough of an adventurous spirit to try any dish, which I did not recognize. He, of course, ordered something, which was not on the menu; some special dish, which only natives knew.
The dinner was somewhat like a dream. I can remember bits and piece now, which are light and airy like a dissipating mist. He spun stories of his youth mixed in with his passion for poetry and literature. I didn’t eat much of my dinner as I was transfixed and hung onto every word.
At one point, he thought it would be a good idea to teach me how to use chop sticks. Despite my refusal, he placed the two sticks in my hand and attempted to guide me in the ancient art. His touch was light upon my skin, but created a deep current, running from my hand into my chest. The cabbage, rice and noodles flew out of my grip and through out the booth. My face burned red as I suggested I stick with the fork.
As with all dreams, the night began to wane. The owner wife came out and placed a white dish with a blue glazed design onto the table. Two fortune cookies were nestled upon the plate. He looked down and pushed the plate with two fingers towards me: “Pick your fortune.” As if by cue, I choose the cookie closest to him. I didn’t even look at him as I cracked the cookie in half. One side had broken loose and the fortune had slipped out. The other was far more stubborn and refused to give up the paper from the crease. The fortune finally broke free as the weight of my thumb pressed down upon the corner of the cookie.
“A little pain never hurt anyone. Your lucky numbers are: 3, 7, 9, 11.” My eyes must have betrayed my disappointment because he placed his cookie into my hand: “I think you got my fortune.” I eagerly snapped the cookie to find my new telling. The red against white were assaulting to my eyes: “Love is an illusion, enjoy the fantasy.”
He was wrong; I did receive the right fortune. While I clung hard to the memories of that night, he forgot it within weeks. We never had Chinese food again nor did we have tea. Later on, I found out I was not the only female introduced to the owner husband and wife. His little hole in the wall was his secret hideaway where he took many a date. I was not the special girl I had thought I was, but a simple, little fool.
From time to time, I think of him and wonder if he still returns to the restaurant. If I am quite, I can hear the crack of someone else’s fortune cookie. Maybe that someone is a girl like the girl I once was, unfolding a wrinkle in space and hoping it will be in her favor.
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