I was having lunch today at one of my favorite weekend haunts when I noticed a woman approach a nearby table. The cafe was busy; I’d waited several minutes for a two-top, where I sat reading and occasionally glancing up at the odd variety of Tempe folk who come and go from the accompanying bookstore.
I thought I recognized this woman, so I looked at her intently, trying to place her. Although their table was quite a bit away from mine, and the cafe was humming along with lunch traffic, I could hear her introduce herself to the pair she was joining for lunch. Immediately after shaking their hands and apologizing for being late, she began a 45-minute conversation about her health history, including her mastectomy and gynecological issues. She did all of this, in what my mother would say, in an “outdoor voice.” Loudly and inappropriately, everyone having lunch learned the sordid details of her life.
Of course, as much as my faced burned with annoyance and frustration at hearing such personal details from a complete stranger, I couldn’t for the life of me focus on my book. It seemed her dramatic words danced their way to my table, polkaing and eventually moshing their way to my attention. Fed up, I quickly finished my lunch and left, wondering who in the world this couple could be and why in the world they could possibly want to sit and listen to this nut and her lists if issues — including having “bad energy.”
The scene reminded me of the time I was on a date with a cute OBGYN when I made the mistake of asking him how his day went, just as the appetizer was served. We were eating at a busy Italian restaurant in Phoenix during the dinner rush. Like a scene from a movie, he began talking about ovarian cysts in voz alto when management lowered the music, sending his words crashing into the diners around us. With the same wonderment I fought today, couples cast odd glances our direction as he laughed as his gaffe. I stared down at the antipasto, deciding in that moment that OBGYNs and prosciutto should never mix.