Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Adoption

"Ben!" I hissed. "Ben!" We were standing in line at Jason's Deli for a Sunday lunch date. Half-hidden behind a wall meant to separate the line from the dining room, I was peering over at an older woman. She was tiny and stooped over, wearing a trench coat, white blouse, blue skirt and thick brown boots. Her black and grey hair was drawn tightly in a bun, and she had a sweet smile as she peered at her middle-aged son through coke-bottle glasses. Her tiny hands plucked at her trench coat as she struggled to take it off.

"What?" he hissed back.

"Look at that old lady!" He turned around and watched as she succeeded in peeling one arm out of the coat.

"What about her?" The old lady had decided that the restaurant was too cold and was now sliding her arm back into the coat.

"I need to adopt her!" Ben stared at me as if I was insane. Peering around the wall, I watched as she delicately sat down.

"What do you mean you need to adopt her?"

"I need to rescue her!" I squeaked, peering around the other side of the wall as the line moved forward. Ben turned and looked at the old woman. He turned and looked back at me, raising his eyebrow.

"She's fine," he said patiently. "Look, she's with her son. He's taking her to lunch!"

"I need to rescue her," I said decisively, watching as she hunched over. She slowly lifted a trembling spoon to her withering lips, sipping her soup silently.

"No, you don't need to rescue her," Ben said, trying to steer me away from the wall as the line moved forward. "We don't have a place to put her."

I stared at him in horror. "She's not a dog!" I said indignantly. "You can't talk like that."

Rolling his eyes, Ben said quietly, "I know that, dear. You're the one wanting to rescue her!"

"She's so cute!" I whispered, straining to see as the line moved forward and I lost sight of her. "She probably smells like meatballs and mothballs! She could live in our guest room honey and make us Italian food every night and mumble in a foreign language and smile a lot and kiss our cheeks!"

Ben said nothing. He merely held his hand up to my head to see if I had a fever.

"I don't think you can rescue her," he said, nudging me as I continued to gape at her. I had found a space in the wall that allowed me to stare. "I don't think she needs to be rescued."

"Everyone needs to be rescued," I said, pouting as he pointed to a table. As I went to save the table, he kissed my cheek and said, "Then rescue me. I'm hungry."

"That's not nearly as interesting," I mumbled to myself as I plopped down at a table where I could openly gape at her. As I watched her slowly eat her soup, I saw how content she and her son were together. I wondered if they came every Sunday. I wondered if he was nice to her, and if she dressed up to go to church or just to run errands. When I saw him smile and pat her hand and she beamed back at him, I realized I was right. I didn't need to rescue her after all.

Ben brought our number and sat down at the table.

"Thank you for lunch, honey," I said, letting my gaze wonder around the restaurant.

"You're welcome," he said, sipping his coke. Suddenly, I spotted an old man. He was hunched over a table, a old wrinkled jacket spread across his back. He ate a sandwich, reading a menu and keeping his eyes down.

"Ben!" I hissed in excitement, stabbing him in the arm. "Look at that old man!"

He turned and looked. "Yes?" he said warily.

"I need to rescue him!"