“O, full of scorpions is my mind!”
― William Shakespeare, Macbeth
The lesbian spit in my sandwich.
I swear she did.
It was lunch time I had nothing to eat and was out running errands. I popped into Whole Foods and went over to the deli counter. I took a number and waited. The number was 47. I couldn’t immediately think of a ball player who wore that number.
There were three people taking orders. One was a young man who was very handsome in a totally unmasculine way. He could just has easily have been straight or gay or one of those nouveau kind of guys who doesn't identify his sexuality in any such traditional manner. Another server was a cute woman with really short hair and boobs that bounced. She was a cute fresh faced free spirit who probably had some huge hunky boyfriend. She wouldn’t be working at a deli counter for long. Probably an environmental studies major at the university who’d be living and working in the far north of California in a year’s time. Living with the hunk. The third server was a chunky little lesbian who looked as much like a 12 year old boy named Butch as she did a woman of a 22, which is what she probably was. She strode around with the physical grace of a boxer.
The number was on 41 when I pulled mine so I had a few minutes to study the servers and some of the yokels who were waiting with me. There was a portly middle aged guy who should have been getting a salad but was probably there for the lasagna. There was a young mother with her two year old who was whining up a storm and there were some nurses from the nearby hospital and non descript college students on a study break.
I had a one in three chance of getting the cute woman as my server so my hopes weren’t high. Sure enough the number 47 was barked out by the lesbian. I have no negative history with lesbians other than perhaps that I once dated a woman who was trying to deny to herself that she was one. Dating me evidently confirmed the truth of her identity. I’ve come to despise the fact that some lesbians hate men. Really? Not a skin color, a religion, an ethnic group but a gender? You do realize that’s roughly half the population. Wonder how that works out for you to hate so many people. I’ve always wondered how they get a pass on that. Like black who hate white people. It’s often related to you by someone with a shrug and a wink. Yeah my uncle hates white people. Or Sharon hates men. Well fuck them. Why is that not roundly condemned? Why act like its cute or excusable or even understandable? Hating people based on who they were (hey, I didn’t choose to be a white, straight, male) is one of the ultimate forms of bigotry no matter who you hate and should be roundly condemned. Anyway so a few lesbians I’ve known of hate men and that’s totally uncool but for the most part lesbians are fine with me and why should’t they be. Live and let is the way I look at. As for gay men well I grew up in very homophobic times and initially hated the very idea but when a distant cousin and early hero and role model of mine turned out to be gay I came to see that sexual preference is no basis for judging a person. That cousin and another gay friend died of AIDS and I’ve had co-workers and friends before and since who were gay and its just the way of the world and I hate homophobia and AIDS with a passion.
But I swear this lesbian spit in my sandwich.
I ordered — very politely, it’s the way I was raised — a tuna on rye with everything, — no cheese — and dijon mustard, please. She was actually sweet kid and happily took my order. I don’t usually watch people prepare my meal, whether it’s a sandwich in Berkeley or three course meal in Italy. To me it destroys the mystery. I like the magic of asking for something and moments later it suddenly appearing in completed form.
So I didn’t see the spit. I didn’t even hear it. You could say I imagined it.
Hey I don’t just imagine things for no reason. My mind doesn’t make up stuff out of thin air that I later think is real. There’s a basis. So when I imagine that someone spit in my sandwich they damn well did.
The question is why would someone do such a thing? Was it a former student who I’d failed? No, there’d been a hint of recognition on my part and it would have been too long ago for her to hold a grudge. I think. Was she the type of lesbian who hates men and finds ways to sabotage them? No, because then she’d be spitting left and right and would have been caught by now. Was there something about my appearance that she hated? Maybe I reminded her of something or someone? Could be. This was not a day I was wearing a dress shirt and tie and sport coat. Nor was I wearing a sweatshirt or tee shirt that boasted a team that she might not like. I had a bulky coat and a blue long sleeve shirt on and my pants she couldn’t see.
I was stumped.
I know, I know. There’s no real reason to think that she spit in my sandwich. I just convinced myself that she did. With the other woman, the cute short haired straight girl, I’d have invented her having a crush on me (could have happened) and with the guy I wouldn't have thought a thing and would have focused on my iPhone. Maybe some latent hatred against lesbians was coming out. Maybe it was the week’s worth of pain and codeine and the root canal and the co-worker being fired that had my mind a wee bit off. Maybe, maybe, maybe.
I’m telling ya I know she did. There was that moment I heard what sounded like a soft spit. Not a hawked loogey but a definite spit coming from behind the deli counter. I happened to be looking at a display of chips at the time but when I heard the unmistakable sound of spittle hurtling through the air. I looked up and there was something clearly amiss. People were shuffling around awkwardly as if they’d seen something they shouldn’t have. There appeared to be embarrassed looks on the face of the other two servers. The lesbian looked somehow guilty as she began to wrap up my sandwich. She noticed me and smiled but it seemed phony as hell. I wasn’t buying it. I looked at the other customers and I swear they looked away. I looked at the other two servers and they acted busy.
Here ya go, she said and handed me the fouled sandwich. I asked if I paid at one of the check out counters and the guy — for some reason, I mean why him, I asked my server — confirmed that I did. This was some way of him covering for her.
I took one of the bags of chips I’d been staring at headed for the check out. Should I report the spit? To whom? What would I say? I had no evidence. I could open up the sandwich but if the lesbian was an experienced food spitter there wouldn’t be a big blob. Especially with tuna fish the spit would have just blended in. I’d just have to pay and get out. I think the person I paid knew what had happened. She was just acting too cool about giving me a receipt, offering me a bag and wishing me a nice day. It was too something the way she did it all. She might have been in on the spit. Maybe she was a lesbian who didn't look like a lesbian. Who knows.
From Whole Foods I took care of my last errand then headed home. I thought about sports on the way home. I thought about how it was going to rain soon. I thought about my weekend plans. I didn’t think about the sandwich. I got home and put stuff away and settled in front of the TV set with my lunch.
Actually the sandwich was pretty good. But I have to wonder....