Thursday, July 05, 2007

Sunday in the Pub With Neil

Having spent the night over my friend, Mucky Sarah's, flat, I started feeling hungry on Sunday morning. After hinting to a newly awakened Sarah that I desired sustenance, she graciously provided a piece of fruit. Realizing that one piece of fruit, while being an excellent start to the day, wouldn't sustain me for long, I gently inquired what her meal plans were. She responded by saying that she usually does Sunday roast. Of course, I mistook her "doing" Sunday roast for meaning that she actually cooked a Sunday roast dinner, as is traditional in Britain. I later learned that what Sarah meant was going to a pub and buying a roast dinner, served there.
Sarah received a telephone call from Neil, her ex-boyfriend. Neil and Sarah remain good friends, she assures me. I suspect that he still holds some interest in her, beyond friendship. The upshot of this telephone call was that Sarah was invited to meet Neil at a pub. I wondered whether I would be included, or cast aside. I needn't have worried, because Sarah expressed her intention to bring me along, before the phone conversation ended. I had mixed feelings about this development. Although I had heard Sarah speak about Neil on many occasions, I had yet to actually meet him. What would he think of me? Would he think there was something going on between me and her? I had already gathered that exactly that suspicion had occurred to him, based on overheard segments of the phone conversation. There is almost always a tension between strange males, when they come face to face in the presence of a woman.
Sarah decided that it would be best if we drove in separate cars, so I followed her to the pub. She brought her lovely little dog along, as the pub in question permits dogs to enter. Despite leaving late, we arrived there ahead of Neil. Walking through the door, I was surprised to discover the pub was empty of customers, except for us. It was July 1st, the first day of England's new smoking ban. I wondered if the ban was contributing to the low pub turnout, as it was now illegal to smoke in a pub. The woman behind the bar said the place had been packed the night before. They had a party to celebrate the last day of legal smoking, which the woman thought was causing people to be late getting out, this day. Even the food was running late and she advised us that the roast dinners wouldn't be ready until about 3PM. As it was already a little past 2PM, we didn't have long to wait.
Sarah bought me a drink and we set ourselves up at a moderately sized table. Even the dog had a drink, enjoying a bowl of water. After half an hour, Neil walked in. He looked older than I had been expecting and shared the trait, with me, of wearing glasses. He seemed very standoffish, at first, but gradually, we warmed to each other. By the time the food arrived, we had teamed up to tease Sarah about her refusal to eat certain meats and vegetables. All too soon, it was time for Neil to go. He left first, then Sarah. I stayed behind for a bit, enjoying one more drink before hitting the road. Don't worry, I was drinking sparkling water, all day.

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