The Tomato and the Caper

Today I met Judy for lunch, and we sat and talked for two hours. It was the best I’ve felt in weeks, because we are in somewhat of the same place in our lives. I wish I could elaborate on that some more, but I really can’t. All I will say is that she understood the level to which I was hurt and in a lot of ways, metaphysically kissed it and made it better. She also gives really good hugs.

I talked about this on my Facebook page, but I will talk about it here because it bears repeating…. a conversation I had at The Daily Grill (but I won’t tell you which location to protect the ignorant). The setup is that I got to lunch really early, and ordered a glass of iced tea. When I got it, they hadn’t added water to it (or so it seemed).

Leslie: This tea is really, really strong. Could I have some Half-and-Half?
Bartender: I’m sorry, I don’t know what that is.
Leslie: …………….
Waiter: ……………
Leslie: Cream….. Milk……
Waiter: OH!!! (blushes)

So I wait until our appointed time and it turns out I am in the wrong location. I look up the address to where I’m supposed to be and it says it will take me 30 minutes to get there. I told the manager to call over to the restaurant where Judy was and tell her I was on my way, then Ubered my way across town to shave off time. It was easy, considering how much caffeine I’d had while “waiting for Judy.”

We have this incredible lunch and then she walks me toward the bus I need, wherein I see a Jonathan Adler store across the street and proceed to FREAK OUT. My Kindle cover with the question mark on one side and the ampersand on the other is Jonathan Adler, and he uses punctuation in a lot of his designs…. for instance, I saw a pillow duvet with a question mark on it and it was all I could do not to run up to the counter and say, “SHUT UP AND TAKE MY MONEY!” I resisted only because they were $125 apiece. Because of course they were.

I decided that even though the store was kind of out of my price range, I still wanted to spend as long as I could there…. and then, something so spectacular appeared in the corner of my eye that I whipped around and bought it. The setup is that years ago, I was shopping in Williams Sonoma and they had a tomato soap that sent me over the moon. It was expensive, so I did not buy it. When I went back, it was gone, and I haven’t been able to find it since…. and by “years ago,” I’m pretty sure that W. had just taken office. So, anyway, I see this tomato lotion out of the corner of my eye, and I ran over to it and picked it up. It smelled JUST LIKE the tomato soap I’d found years ago. I wasn’t going to let the opportunity pass again, because lotion is one of those things that lasts me ten years.

And by tomato, I don’t mean that it smells like the food. I mean it smells like the vine…. except it won’t kill you. I leave walking on air, because this is the first housewarming gift I have purchased for myself, and it is something I have wanted since the Kathleen years. In fact, Dana will tell you that it is something I haven’t shut up about our entire relationship. Every time we go into Williams Sonoma, “when are you going to bring back the tomato soap?” Now I can stop bugging them.

It is then that all the iced tea begins to hit me and I have to go to the restroom. I stopped for a few moments to check my Google Maps to make sure I was going in the right direction, and then stopped into the Hyatt Regency because I figured there would be a public bathroom in the lobby. I went into the stall and put my stuff down, and when I finished, I picked up my backpack and the Jonathan Adler bag was gone. All of the confidence I’d had all day drained, because losing both my tomato lotion and the money I spent on it put me on the ground. I cried big alligator tears because I thought that the chance of getting it back was nil. I’d probably left it on the Metro, and there was no hope. Plus, I’d been talking to Judy about what happened with Dana and my grief was just under the surface of my skin to begin with, and I just lost it. I wasn’t crying about the lotion and the money anymore. I was fucking up at life. Just STRAIGHT UP.

And then I remembered that I’d stopped right outside the hotel to check Google Maps, and maybe I’d just left it where I stopped. I ran out of the hotel like a house on fire, and when I got to the outside walkway, there was my Jonathan Adler bag, untouched, lotion intact.

That’s when I REALLY cried. What had been lost was found. I wasn’t a failure after all. I knew that I wasn’t, logically, but you can’t tell that emotionally to a person in grief and have them believe it. I can’t even tell it to myself without solid proof. I knew that I’d made a mistake by leaving it behind to begin with, but just the fact that I’d had enough presence of mind to take it off the Metro with me is the only reason I was able to retrace my steps in the first place. That had to be something, right?

I hope so.


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