820 Catawba Avenue
Put-In-Bay, OH 43456
by Beau Cadiyo
When we got up she barely talked to me. We’d spent the night in the South Bass park campground and packing up was accomplished in near-silence. So was driving, and figuring out where to eat; I could feel her anger and frustration directed at me from the passenger seat. Upstairs, we joined a few other hungover tables on the roofed patio. Her eyes were distant and uncommunicative.
I hated myself. I’d been a complete asshole, and kept apologizing, but nothing. She didn’t care any more. We ordered. It was chilly, so I went downstairs to get a sweater. On the way back up, rows of chocolates caught my eye. I went back down and picked some out. The man behind the counter told me that lots of men stop by for chocolate on Sunday mornings, and nodded. Upstairs, she ate a few.
My soup came – cream of mushroom. Hunger was an unnecessary spice – this soup was absolutely delicious. Then the sandwiches. My fried perch was stuffed in a long roll, with some tomato and lettuce, and fries formed a small pile on the plate with a pickle. They were limp – I’ve started to notice that a lot of places serve limp fries. The sandwich was probably good, but by this point I had no appetite. It just sat on my plate. Small, black varicose veins stood out against the white of the fish. That’s what I remember - the veins. Frank said that you shouldn’t fry white fish, but I don’t know that I’ve ever had perch any other way. The gyro she urged on me was mediocre – the small bite I took revealed almost plain meat, and I feel that gyro meat should be spiced to extinction. I realized that I was noticing the small things that you notice when you want to know someone – the way she poured pepper onto her fries, the way she propped her legs up on the chairs and the table, how she mostly picked at the dark chocolate. She used to insist on always paying half, but today she hadn’t brought a credit card. I had to pay.
When she went to the bathroom, I looked over at a table of three middle-aged women next to me. All three had wedding rings on, and for some reason I plucked up my courage and asked if they had any advice for a young man on how to make relationships work.
1) She’s always right.
2) Keep your own friends.
3) Give each other some space.
5) Two of them were divorcees, so maybe don’t listen to them too closely.
She came back outside and motioned me from the doorway. The women wished me quiet good luck as I walked past. In high school, people had nicknamed her the “Ice Queen.” Walking down the stairs, I could still feel her frustration with me even if she’d melted a bit with the meal. I was fairly sure we would not talk again after I dropped her off at home, and that made me infinitely sad, both because I truly cared about her and because hurting her was the last thing I ever wanted to do.