I am fat with chicken: sweet and sour, grilled and stained prehistoric red, sesame chicken, orange, long strips and battered hunks like gravel, chicken swamped in gravies, syrups, in battered broccoli like General Tso's. I hate chicken. It bloats me, make me burp, bellow, and hang over my belt. My belt claws red lines across my ballooning belly, leaves a pattern more angry than a tight sock. When I exit the car, I pull the belt up near the belly's button, that stitch near bursting, and often over, so that I waddle around, all the bulge now below instead of above, but not in the way that would make college girls glimmer and quiver. Oh, I am old and I am fat with chicken.
My fortune read: Hilltop and seaside resorts are where you'll live for life. What does that mean? Is that an indication that I'm going to wane away my days in a posh mental institution? The cookie snapped like a firecracker. Paper crinkled between my fingers. A hissing air conditioner pushed crumbs the color of peanut butter on the table. A man at the other table held his fork like an infant, gripped in his fist, his elbow jabbing upwards as he speared his noodles. His wife chewed her lower lip.
Someone laughed. The sound of it rushed into the room, like a flower spilling it's seed in the wind. A cold spoon warmed in my mouth. One can't put a cold spoon in a cup of hot soup. Don't ask me why. You just can't. For the same reason, probably, that a sweating glass needs to go back to the same wet ring it left shivering on the table. Napkins will sop up the slop that escapes the circle. Multiple rings can not be allowed. Once, my wife and I, at another restaurant, ate an entire meal without talking. Her teeth clinked on the glass. She put her elbows on the table in the one spot that made it rock. Picked them up and put them back down before taking another bite. Again and again. Each bite. She moved her glass to six different spots on the table. She didn't close her lips to chew, so that I saw her hard, white teeth tear the chicken from the fork.
That is what I thought about as the air conditioner sucked the laughter from the room. That, and how later I was going to feel fat with chicken.