Hare Krishna Dinner
I usually don't put money into cults like the H.K., but the food is really good and they don't proselytise. I've come here for almost 20 years now, and I've seen the head waiter grow middle-aged, his forelock abandoned for a televangelist haircut that makes him look like a presidential candidate.
As I was eating, three people came in, arguing in hushed tones. An attractive 45ish lady, slightly worn, wanted to have dinner here. But she was having trouble with her male companion, a tall, very worn 50ish guy. The place made him nervous, he whispered plaintively, and he kept trying to flee out the door into the street. This made the woman angry. Another woman, 40ish, short, stocky and slightly hunched with inward-pointing toes and a red braid, tried to placate the two.
Us other diners all clearly felt embarrassed by the display, shrinking into our chairs, some whispering among themselves. I don't know why these three people gave off such an outsider vibe. I fancied they came here from a drugs rehab session or a mental daycare institution. But of course I don't know anything about their lives.
Finally the hungry lady gave up her attempts to eat here and went to get a doggy bag. Her beau immediately took the chance to zip out the door. As the presidential candidate transferred the woman's veggie food to a box, she ran out after the guy, calling his name, telling him off in a hushed angry voice. When they were gone, everyone breathed a sigh of the relief that comes of restored normality. And the chanting and finger cymbals on the loudspeakers droned on.