Dining Out

We’re talking and sure we’re talking a little loud but we’ve paid —or we will pay soon—for this corner booth at the Golden Elephant with its white paper table cloth, will pay for the mulligatawny soup and the samosas and the saag paneer and the tandoori and the lassi and the tea but meanwhile we have things to say, impassioned things about in-laws and carpenters gone wrong, heartfelt stories of second marriage and secondhand houses because what else is there to do, really, but write the story of ourselves over and over, meaning-making animals, making it up and as we finish the naan and move toward the silky kheer the pitch rises encouraged by calories. Food-drunk and, as I have said, impassioned we up the volume. Then the note comes:

dear loud tableyou have ruined our meal with your whining about the implacability of life, with your characterizing and pigeonholing, with your complaining. We have sat here gripped by the meanness of your talk, hardly talking ourselves, judging, judging, judging as we know we must and now we render this verdict: you are loud, you are messy eaters, you have not combed your hair. We have written this note on a torn corner of the paper tablecloth we had on hand just to say, although it never occurred to us to speak to you or to leave the Golden Elephant before we finished our ruined meal, we were incensed and we will dine out on this story for years.

Wendy Taylor Carlisle
 lives and writes in the Arkansas Ozarks. She is the author of two books and five chapbooks, most recently They Went to the Beach to Play, LiCoFo Chaps, 2017. For more about her work, check her website at

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