Sandwich Counter Conversation
"Come here often?"
No, I think, it's been a long while. And it's funny that I've learned to hear that phrase as nothing but a pickup line; I don't know that I'd know how to say it in anything other than a mock-suave voice, but she doesn't mean it that way. She just wants to know if I'm going to need help choosing a sandwich. Which I will, and I tell her. She suggests the Tantalizer. After examining the ingredients -- turkey, ham, pastrami, and provalone -- I agree.
"So how come you don't come anymore?"
And it's funny how that line is one that comes from the mouth of an old flame, or old friend, or if not from their mouth, something they quietly think or ask with their eyes when you do see them. She doesn't mean it this way either. This is sandwich counter conversation, however much it resembles something more personal.
"I used to work at NuSkin," I say, "and I'd be down here all the time. And I had friends who liked this place," I add, noting to myself that I can't remember which friends they were. "Then I quit, moved to Pleasant Grove, and wasn't down here much. Moved to California, ran out of work and then money, came back here. I work in Lindon now. It's a long way to get a sandwich."
"So you came tonight just for a sandwich?"
"No. Songwriter's workshop down the street, at the Provo Arts Center, but I was really hungry, and remembered this place. Have you heard of Nancy Hanson?"
She shakes her head. No.
"She's the artist who's the guru of the evening. The Provo Arts Center has some great stuff; you should check it out."
She nods. Yes. "Here's your sandwich. You should come back again."
I pay her and walk outside. It's the first rainy day in not-quite autumn, and everything seems so personal suddenly, the changed light messing with depth perception. Old places and old friends seem unfamiliar but close. I pause when a stoplight interrupts my driving, and take out the sandwich. It's very, very good.