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02.13.04, friday morning

Just as we were closing the restaurant last night, two women arrived, their curly hair crowned by diadems of fuschia and gold stars, the kind you use to decorate the birthday parties of children. We just got married! they exclaimed, their eyes as bright as the stars they wore. They teetered a little, on their heels, swaying with the force of their glee.

Congratulations, I said. Unfortunately, we are closed. The chefs had dumped out their pots of water in which they could have steamed or boiled vegetables. The pilot lights were killed, the vat of oil cool. Oh! But we want to eat here. Is there anyway you can serve us? Is there something the kitchen can make for us?

After a quick consultation with the kitchen staff, I suggested tom ka. Oh, one said, she's allergic to coconut milk. Is there anything else you could make? I sighed. No, I'm sorry.

But we came here all the way from San Francisco!

I'm sorry. I didn't tell them why, exactly. For as much as I am happy that they were able to get married, it would be unfair for my fellow workers to have to stay another hour in service, when they had people waiting for them, in homes that were buses or bike rides away.

So I sent them in the direction of Chinatown and later felt that my heart must have turned into a cold hard stone last year.


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