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Love is the last bite

Bikram Vohra (Between the Lines) / 16 April 2011

My wife and I are sitting in this fast food restaurant where strangers are not spoken to and the stools are made by nasty minded scientists who hate humans.

Anyway, here we are with our little burgers and cokes, making the sort of desultory conversation that those who have been married 30 years make — when this newly married couple walk in.
They are newly married because everything about them has that spangled look, besides which they are leaning against each other like drunken lampposts and only the truly newly wed lean like that. Mature couples walk five feet apart and pretend they are not with each other. They park next to us.

After some squelchy wrangling about what to purchase — set to little squeals and mewls — they settle for one large coke with two straws and one cheeseburger. These items are ceremoniously carried by him to the table where they then reluctantly split company and are seated opposite each other and apart by the whole length of the two by two plastic table.

My goodness, I say, they have only one cold drink, what on earth are they thinking?

Two straws, says my wife, they are in love.

Yes, I can see that, I say, but that’s no way to tackle a coke. As if in response, the couple begin to slurp from the various ends of the huge cup, here a slurp, there a slurp, your slurp, my slurp. Then they come up for air and look into each other’s eyes. I watch fascinated.

We never did that, I say. I mean, did we? My wife eats her chicken whatever and says, you have to be the romantic type for that sort of thing, you never were, that’s one of the things I missed in my life.

What, I say, to drink out of the same cup with different straws.

No, she says, the romance of it; it’s not the straws, it’s the principle of the thing, you never had it in you. I can get one now, I say. We can sit here in public view and slurp away at our straws if you think it will compensate for the great vacuum in your past.

See, she says, see the way you say it, you are crass, you want my opinion, it’s kind of cute, young love is so endearing.

Good grief, I say. It is so exhibitionist.

There, she says, again, no sense of romance, no spontaneity, just because you can’t be fun-loving doesn’t mean it’s wrong, look at them, they’re so involved in each other.

I look at them. They have given up on the cup of liquid joy and are now going for the cheeseburger. By now the burger is down to its last bite. She is holding it. I am watching fascinated. My wife is looking away. The girl is saying this is for you. He is saying, no this is for you, she is saying, no, no, no, for you, and he saying, never, never, you, and she is now wriggling and saying, but it’s for you. Bet you 10 bucks, she eats it, I say to my wife. She says, you are disgusting, stop spoiling it.

Go man, go, I say, hang in, give it to her.

She is wilting and then she says if you don’t eat it you don’t care for me.

Whhhaaattt?

He’s going to lose it, I say, silly fool is melting. However, he is made of sterner stuff. No, he says, guiding the missile back at her, your last bite, I insist. She demurs, looks at him sopping soulfulness, and says, only if you feed me. He volunteers.

Watch, I say, you are not watching, this is more fun than the Olympics.

He moves the burger towards her mouth. I win, I say, just then her hand darts and plucks the burger from his hand and plops it into his open mouth like Magic Johnson dunking a basket. She then giggles and he swings ecstatically in his defeat and at her dexterity. My wife looks up from her, chicken and says that’s ten bucks you owe me.

Bikram Vohra is Khaleej Times Editorial Advisor. Write to him at bikram@khaleejtimes.com

 
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