Share a Salad With a Stranger

DSC00167I recently attended my friend Sandi’s short film screening on the lower west side. Before the screening started she invited me to go out to Patsy’s, a pizza place, for pizza and beer after the screening was over. “Who all is coming?” I asked. “A few friends.” She said.

We sit down to watch a few films including her own. They are magnificent, and I am hungry. After everyone says their goodbyes, a few of us start walking to the pizza place. As we walk I’m starting to notice that Sandi has a few more friends than I thought. “No matter, it’s a pizza place with pizza and beer, I’m sure I’ll be in and out and full in no time with minor damage to my wallet. Right?”

It turns out Patsy’s, the “pizza place”, is this really fancy Italian restaurant that serves high end, gourmet, pasta and pizza. This is the kind of place where the menu is in Italian and the entrées don’t have dollar signs next to them, just numbers, and double digits to boot. (Speaking of which, we should’ve went to Two Boots).

And on top of that, we arrive at the place and there’s people already waiting for us. We’re a party of 18! YIKES! I tip my hat to the waiters/waitresses that have to politely wait at the end of a long cramped table of 18, praying that the planets align just long enough for everyone to hush their conversation so he/she may take a drink order.

So I reluctantly squeeze at the end of this long table knowing no one, wanting only the pizza and beer I was promised so many minutes ago. I look at the menu, and I’m thinking, “$30 for a plain pie??” (Sorry, “30 for a plain pie??”) I look immediately into my wallet. There’s $13 and a moth. My eyes shuffle through the menu to the salads which were a little bit more in my price range.

After everyone has their turn at being indecisive and passing the buck to the left, I flag down the busy waitress, who mind you, kept an unbelievable cool.

“Can we all do separate checks? I want to order a salad.” I ask.

Haha, that’s when she says, “Well you can get the individual but, other people might want salad as well. You should ask around to see if other people want some.”

“Good point.” I say as I grind my teeth on the idea of sharing a salad with people I didn’t know. You see, I consider myself someone who usually does not mind sharing. However, in this particular case, I knew I just wanted my OWN salad so I could cover it with my $13 and then chip in a dollar or two for a slice of pizza.

I ask the group, “I want to get the Organic Greens with goat cheese and walnuts. Anyone else?” And of course everyone wants some. So that’s what I order.

Well the salad comes upon a giant plate and one of Sandi’s friends grabs the tongs and starts divvying salad onto people’s plates. I can see the pile of precious salad dwindling. AHHHHH! All I wanted was my own salad!

Finally the salad comes round to me, and I get a scoop on my plate. It’s just slightly smaller than what I wanted and gulped it down. Someone get me a beer.

Luckily, one of Sandi’s friends saves me from having a shallow, salad-impoverished evening. He starts speaking to me about art and story-boarding, and I am immediately fascinated, enough to quickly forget that my big plate of salad is gone.

The moral of the story is, learn to share your salad with strangers. Because it’s possible for them to become new friends who also happen to like salad.

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**Michael Oshins: I am an underground comic strip artist/filmmaker. Don’t tell anyone, but I spend most of my time online waiting for people to email me. Sometimes I have a funny encounter with my family or out in the world that I’d love to share. Don’t be a stranger.

Smiles For All