The crowd at the Dinky Bar was more robust than usual. My friend and I were delighted because it gave us great fodder for our favorite pastime of people-watching.

“Look at that guy at the bar,” my friend said. “He’s wolfing down that salad like it was his last supper.”

“I’m more intrigued by the girl over there, the girl with the pearl earring. She’s a thousand miles away, smiling to herself, looking at something the rest of us can’t see.”

“Yeah, she’s certainly not paying attention to her food. These meat pies are fabulous; I wonder how they make them. I can’t get enough.” He mimed pure ecstasy, hand on heart, eyes rolling heavenward.

“You and your food,” I laughed. “How do I love nachos? Let me count the ways. One of these days, you’ll consume one jalapeno too many and it will erupt out of your sternum and kill us both.”

“So, I love my food. But at least I’m not an obsessive like that woman to your left. She’s been rubbing her hands with that napkin for ages. Nothing’s going to get that damned spot out, it’s blueberry.”

I swiveled in my seat. “How about Mr. Guilty over there in the booth. He’s staring at the floor, as if he was listening to something. He cheated on his wife and I bet he’s swearing ‘nevermore.’”

“Now, now,” my friend grinned. “Let’s not be too proud or prejudiced.”

Whiting, a longtime reader of Summer Fiction submissions, says there are 11 cultural and literary allusions in this piece. E-mail our editor — rein@princetoninfo.com — if you catch them all.

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