Restaurant Wallpaper, Sidewalk Friend

 To the couple hunched over minestrone and penne, leaning close in the corner booth, the crowd of the restaurant is wallpaper. background. a setting and a picture frame for the enjoyment of the table and the togetherness.

 But to the man who, alone, eats the caesar salad and sandwich in the open air of the restaurant patio, the crowd of the sidewalk is a lost and found. a train station platform. a card catalog where he searches the passing faces for some glint of recognition that they both are people, people together. He looks at the hurried men and fussy women and distracted children with a hungry wish: to be acknowledged, to be made vulnerable, to be close, to share a meal together.

 No, no one is sitting here. Please, sit down. You have to try the lemonade here; it's a specialty. And let me buy you a glass. Now tell me, what's your name?