Here's my Christmas present to you:
The seat in front of me is empty. The lighting is dim and sets an intimate mood. Bottles of sake and imported wines from across East Asia line the wall of the bar on the right of me. Plastic walls designed like Japanese windows block the view to my left. Exasperated waitresses natter at each other in Korean or Cantonese as they deliver orders to the dour chefs.
A bowl of katsu-don sits in one hand while the other shovels bits of meat and rice into my mouth with a pair of chopsticks. To my right, a linebacker has flown head-first into another player on the flat-screen television. I turn my eyes from it.
There is another table in front of me. I have noticed other empty seats around me since entering, but the round-faced server saw fit to place me here, and I didn’t know why.
Then I noticed the other white guy. He wears glasses and a white polo; his head is box-like. The seat in front of him is empty, and he is facing me, heartily enjoying his sushi.
As my meal went on, I watched him intently. I began realize that this was a set-up. And also that this is maybe the fourth time this has happened.
I ask myself why this keeps happening. Do they expect us to bond over a mutual love of Asian cuisine or suddenly engage in mortal combat? Have we been exiled from the rest of the clientèle, so that our crippling loneliness does not sully the mood for other patrons?
That was when the waitress came to his table and leaned in to pick up his plates, and I realize two things:
The first was that we were here for exactly the same reason.
The second was that I desperately needed to get my shit together.
See you next time.