Oh, Ethiopian food, I haven’t savored you in years. Still behind but I have to say that overall I’m happy with the stories I’ve been producing. Many thanks for reading! ❤️❤️❤️❤️
A Couple Decades Ago Yesterday
The love of my fantasy life was leaving for a new job at an Ivy League college. As was tradition when a member of the lab was leaving, a group lunch was arranged, this time at an Ethiopian restaurant in Adam’s Morgan.
His name was Sean, and he was from the British midlands and funny and had vivid blue eyes and a way of cocking his eyebrow at me that made me melt. Though I don’t think he ever knew. I’m pretty sure he practiced it on all the girls.
Steve Winwood’s “While You See a Chance” played as background music when Sean entered the restaurant, late, and then sat next to me, his aftershave seductive. I could read a million and one things into his choosing to sit next to me, but what difference would it make? He was leaving, exiting the building, and for all it mattered I could be sitting on his lap and the outcome would still be the same.
Paula, our Purchasing Agent, was the oldest one of us, hailing from New Jersey but claimed her people came from Nova Scotia and were Newfies. She was loud, funny, and wielded a heart of gold to match her dyed hair and the rims of her thick-lensed glasses.
When the waiter placed the plated injera on the table, she exclaimed: “The linens are dirty!”
There was some smirking until someone explained that those linens were used to eat the food. She shook her head violently. “Nope. I need a fork.”
Our lab had many knights in those days, and one grabbed her a fork. I kind of miss those knights. A couple of them were my best friends, destined for scientific greatness.
“Thank you, Richard,” she said, kindly.
Good food and laughter. I ate richly flavored foods like doro wat and a lentil dish I never caught the name of. I watched Sean as he spoke, joked. Sometimes his eyes would meet mine and I thought, oh, if only. And tried to quell my hormones. Bad, bad hormones.
We all returned to the lab and work.
Paula laughed about the food being too spicy for her Irish stomach.
And I, well I daydreamed, between proofing documents, of a world where Sean might decide not to leave.
And, maybe I unintentionally made it a wish because he never did. And his snores mix with the dogs’ some thirty years later. And, last year Paula died during the pandemic, just short of reaching 90 and I cried heartbroken tears. And the lab’s knights ventured forth to other realms where they tilted at windmills and left their own marks of goodness on the environmental landscape of science. And, all these memories I have and cherish of the people who placed indelible ink stains of only the best kind on my life. And, I hug them all to me like my favorite woven cotton blanket that in no way resembles injera. And, as I write these words, smiling, I remember you all with love.
Life has been good.