Love Is a Bowl of Pho

Welcome back to Word Whiskey! I promised you something sexy and mysterious and I decided I will sexily and mysteriously deflect the effort of writing anything brand new and instead put up a piece I wrote a while back.

It IS an older piece. I wrote it back on December 29th of last year. I enjoyed writing it, I think. I seem to recall that after I slapped that last period in place, I felt a sense of euphoria that almost-but-didn’t-quite mesh well with the post-drinking wreck of a body I was struggling through. Hope you enjoy!

“As I sat, spooning beef, noodles and broth into my mouth in an effort to curb a hangover, I found myself looking across the way at a couple my age sitting facing each other. They both leaned in, an act called ‘mirroring’ (a sign of attraction or interest and one hell of a sales strategy for anyone aspiring to work retail). Her hair was pulled back, showing off diamond earrings I wondered if he bought her. Both of her hands clasped the glass of water in front of her. Never once did her smile fade or her eyes leave his face.

It brought to my mind two things: conversations in restaurants and restaurant-like businesses (a strangely specific but common experience of mine) and love.

Regarding the first, my brain ejaculated dozens of insignificant memories at me. The time one of my friends and I ate brunch in Sullivan’s Steak House in two day-old clothes, still drunk because fuck it, steak. I remembered getting milkshakes in a diner I’ve never heard of in Los Angeles right after getting fired for the lamest and least useful type of embezzlement ever. I was with a woman I respected and had a lot of genuine affection for. She informed me I had broken her heart and trust, paid for my milkshake, drove me home and never spoke to me again. I remembered birthday dinners and dinners with theater show casts, brunches in coffee shops, lunches in foreign countries where my friend and I struggled to pronounce the menu items and failing, becoming two more of ‘THOSE’ Americans’.

What is it about these kinds of scenarios that breeds intimacy even in groups? It can’t be the need for food, I think, because everyone needs to eat. There are certainly GOOD meals and romantic restaurants, but the act of masticating isn’t in itself a heart-warming thing.

I thought it might be the conversation, but immediately thought of a half dozen instances in which whoever I was with and I shared a half dozen scattered sentences, acknowledged our satisfied taste buds, paid the bill and left. Then I recalled cases where the amount of people at the table is so big, the conversations so varied that your head is reeling just trying to keep track of everyone’s stories while being reminded of stories of your own.

I think ultimately it comes down to the company. The human element. Having someone there. By the nature of being somewhere together, doing something as common as eating, you’re able to relax. This is why when someone needs to confess something or break down life’s troubles or celebrate something or talk about proposing or ACTUALLY proposing, so many of these things happen in eateries. Because it feels good to be somewhere with someone, around other someones, even (especially) when the circumstances are shitty.

So, love.

There is nothing so liberating and crippling as romantic love. I love the concept of love. I love writing about love and loving in all its forms and being in love.

I hate being in love.

I miss being in love.

I couldn’t help but wonder when the last time was that I interestedly leaned into a table across from someone. When was the last time someone looked at me with the same expression this young woman was giving her paramour? Jesus, THAT was probably even further back.

I’ve been single for three and a half years.”

-EDITOR’S NOTE: That makes it four years now, LADIES-

“I’ve dated and I date. I’ve slept around in full-disclosured, safe and understanding situations (for fucking better or worse, no pun intended. I’ve flirted and crushdd and rebounded from rejection,  shrugged off rejection and lingered on rejection. So much rejection.

I’ve let my walls down a couple times since my last relationship, to disastrous results. I’ve pulled away from women because I’m focused on my finances, my family, or because I want to moe out of state (somewhere, somewhen). Mostly, though, because I haven’t felt that spark that breathes ‘longevity’ to me. I’ve rarely felt a connection recently that left me missing someone only seconds after parting ways. Maybe that’s my fault. Maybe I’m not letting myself feel it or I’m not recognizing it because I’m so focused on other aspects of my life. I don’t shy away from chemistry so much, but I’m also not hunting it down with relentless fervor. I’ve heard it comes when you’re not looking for it and my past experiences tend to agree with that assessment.

I’m confused by love. I know love isn’t supposed to make sense, but that just makes things irritating. I’m frustrated by love.

Love is a horror to behold when it falls apart or gets desperate. I’ve been there and studies have shown that break-ups are disastrous on the physical body in terms of the chemicals released and the strain on your heart, not to mention the psychological issues ranging from depression as deep as mourning to crippling insecurity.

But man, is it phenomenal when it works. It’s working for these two, these diners I’ve -at this point- been staring at for an uncomfortably long time. It’s worked out for many of my friends. Beautiful. I hold out hope that it’ll work out for me again on a beautiful future day.

Anyway, my pho was good.”

So there you have it! As tempting as it was to end this with a declaratory statement about my soup, I have to ask: can you relate to any of this? Have I touched you? Have I driven you into an inconsolable rage?

Most importantly, am I the only one who finds it weird that Kylie Minogue is the only Australian judge on The Voice Australia?


One thought on “Love Is a Bowl of Pho

  1. I remember feeling this way so many times over the years… I hated love and what it could do to me, how it could hurt me; I missed love and how it could lift me and make me feel so connected. I sought and spurned love in equal turns, changing my mind on which I preferred sometimes several times a day. Seeing a couple that worked, like the one you described, could make me feel soft and hopeful, or it could fill me with bitterness and angry thoughts about how they had probably only been together a short while, and soon one or both would reveal their flaws and be dumped for them.
    I’m glad your pho was good. 🙂

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