African plans, macrobiotics, white bread
2. After a long workout I take myself to dinner at the all-you-can-eat macrobiotic restaurant, Casa de Luz. Sweet potato soup, aduki beans and brown rice, steamed zucchini with walnut kombu miso sauce, blanched greens, daikon, beet-and-carrot cornmeal pie, urns of twig tea. You can eat an infinite amount of that stuff and not gain weight.
It’s in a little Central American-looking complex of meditation rooms and yoga rooms and a preschool. Tropical trees shield a narrow red-cobbled walk and an assortment of sitting nooks. A pomegranate tree; banana leaves; notice boards; a black stone statuette of an elephant god; an oak draped with tiny antiqued lampshades. A blond-haired little brother and sister –- her name, inevitably, is Zoe –- argue in the most reasonable polite tones about how to break a stalk from the carefully groomed stand of bamboo.
The dining room is like an audition hall for roles requiring tall, lean, healthy, pink people. A few tall gray stoop-shouldered ones lurk around hoping against hope for callbacks. Multigeneration families discuss meaningful issues; strangers venture conversation at communal tables; regulars rush to hug hello. The tall pink waiter with the unchanging minimal smile makes sure not to be accusable of impatience when I ask him to explain the food-ordering system. He has embraced silence but sometimes acknowledges a spiritual duty to interrupt it for a customer.
By the window sit a group of unrelated adults, a class in some meritorious subject. Two of them, a white-haired man and a sexy fortyish brunette, stand and bow repeatedly to the setting sun through the window, clap three times, and thank each other very much. Later everyone in the group sits with their right arm extended in midair.
The studenty foursome at my table wonder aloud about the arm-raisers, and reminisce about a convenience store in Lafayette, Louisiana that serves immense magnificent delicious po’boy sandwiches piled with oysters and dripping with mayonnaise. I could use one myself. The most memorable of the four, short and wiry, Appalachian-looking, visually out of place here, wearing a half-grown beard and a green gimme cap, talks about his travels with a landscape crew digging gardens for the wealthy. The inexplicable competitive lust to outdo one’s neighbor’s plants. He and his friends fantasize about a plot of land they’ve seen for sale, almost seven acres with an unlivable 1920s farmhouse, just outside the city, for $110,000, but who can get that kind of money?
I’m practicing taking surreptitious notes. I’ve got a science fiction novel open and am apparently recording my insights about it. I stare off at the ceiling with intense detachment while hanging onto the voices here beside me. I open and close my notebook at unpredictable intervals as if inspired by shuddering fancies all my own.
The fools! Little do they know I have captured their dreams.
3. Home, I allow myself to eat packaged white bread, which I keep only for my children. The sky doesn’t fall.