June 1, 2012

Outside storefront of Blossom Vietnamese Restaurant in downtown Los Angeles
Photo credit: Kaelyn Thurmond

It’s amazing to think about all the interesting characters and human interactions I see when my eyes are open.

Tuesday night, they were open.

I went out to dinner with Billy, a lovely friend of mine (who’s a wonderful human being).

The hostess asked if we wanted to sit outside. Since it was nighttime, we went for it!

(I hate sitting outside during the day. The sun and its radiating heat drive me bonkers!)

So, we’re sitting outside, and this man walks by. I see Billy give him a smile as though he knows him. I ask if he does. Nope. The man just smiled at Billy, so he smiled back. Then, the man comes over to our table and starts talking to us.

Steve, the stranger talking to us, seems really pretty drunk. He’s slurring on about his wife Kathy, and the decades they’ve been married. I keep looking from Billy to Steve to my food, assessing the situation, wondering if Steve is going to excuse himself, or what Billy’s gonna do.

Billy patiently listens to Steve’s stories. I’m taking it all in. Then, Steve tries to throw $15 at us! This is the first time someone on the streets of LA has ever tried to give me money; usually, I’m being asked for it. Steve says, “Let me buy you guys a drink,” trying hard to hand us that money.

Billy being the good person that he is, rejects the money. There was a little part of me that wanted to take it. (There’s a sale at Ralph’s. I could get 20 Yoplaits!)

But, I decline as well. I don’t want to be taking advantage of this silly drunk guy. Eventually, Steve meanders away from our table. Straight to the table next to us.

There are 3 girls dining beside us. One girl puts her foot down immediately. In a very stern voice, she says, “Hey. We’re trying to eat here.”

Steve moves on to the man in the doorway. Steve says, “Let me buy you a drink,” and tries to hand the man the $15. The man says, “Thanks! If you say so,” and takes the money. Steve goes on his merry way… Maybe home? Maybe to meet more people at another outdoor seating area? Who knows.

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