Long ago, in early 2002, I was dating (my now-good-friend) Simple Math. One Saturday, we decided to drop by the now-defunct Cozy Corner Cafe for a diner breakfast. And, boy, I needed it. I'd spent the previous evening double-fisting single-malt scotch and cheap beer.
Our food came, and I broke the Cardinal Law of the Hangover: don't ever reach for the eggs first. Start with toast. I turned shades of green unknown to Crayola or Pantone. My face was a rainbow of sickly fruit flavors. I lurched out of my seat and dashed for the upstairs restrooms.
I imagine my fellow diners heard something like this: tap tap tap tap tap tap...(pause for turning at the landing)...tap tap tap tap (I clearly remember exactly four stairs)...STOMP STOMP STOMP (running down the hall)....SLAM! (restroom door closing)....Bleeeeeeeeaaaaaarggggggh! (no explanation necessary).
I expelled the contents of my digestive system (in what turned out to be the men's room...to complete the humiliation). I staggered downstairs, and returned to the table to find that Simple had settled the check. Before I had a chance to warn him, Simple headed up to the men's room. After he left, two waitresses sidled over.
"So, how far along are you?"
Forgive me, oh, forgive me for this....
"About two months."
They looked to my ringless hands, and clucked sympathetically. Word of my ignominous illegitimate imaginary pregnancy flew about the restaurant. Simple returned to find a collective Waitress Death Stare. It's a good thing we'd already eaten, or he might have gotten some DNA with his omelet. At any rate, he never got good service there again.
But that's not the punchline. More than four years later, I was road-tripping around the South. I realized I was close to Simple's hometown, so I rang him up and badgered him until he told me some fun places to go.
"Oh, go get a burger and a soda at this one diner. You'll love it."
I went to Simple's "diner," sat down at the counter, and wondered why I was the only woman there. I also wondered why all the locals were staring at me as if I was wearing a fedora made of human entrails.
That's because it wasn't a diner. It was an illegal off-track betting parlor.
You win, Simple. You win.