“CINCO DE MAYO!!!”
Jun and Beth receive a spirited greeting as they enter their favorite restaurant to enjoy some Mexican cuisine. After being seated, Jun takes notice of the waiter smiling at Beth. He slides their menus on the table.
“Oh, no. We don’t need menus,” she smiles and slides the menus back toward the waiter. “I don’t think I’ve noticed you here before. You new?”
“Si. New specials, ici.” He nods and points toward the chalkboard with celebration dishes written on it.
Beth and Jun giggle. “No,” Beth says, now shaking her head. “You special? I mean –“ she makes a funny face – “You new here?”
The waiter looks puzzled at first. After a second he seems to understand their question. “Ah, si. New,” he says using his pen to point to himself.
“Well, como te llama?” Jun’s 9th grade Spanish is further butchered by her lazy American tongue. She hopes not to be offensive.
The waiter smiles and nods as if approving of her effort. “Juan.”
“Juan, that’s like Jun but with an ‘a’ in there!” Jun seems to have gotten a buzz before her usual margarita cocktail with lots of silly laughter. The waiter is smiling blankly, still unsure of what she’s saying. She notices his confusion. “My llamo Jun.” She points to her friend. “Her llamo Beth.”
Beth grabs a hold of Jun’s arm. “Jun, you’re being rude. It looks as though you’re poking fun.”
“I’m sure he isn’t that sensitive, Beth.”
Beth turns toward the waiter. “I’m gonna have my usual chimichanga with chicken and a side of queso.”
The waiter starts scribbling on his notepad, seemingly glad to hear words he understands.
Beth continues her order. “I’d also like to have a glass of water and… what the heck, a 32 oz margarita.”
The waiter makes a couple of gestures implying that he likes to drink. They share some polite laughter.
“Cinco de Mayo, right?” Jun chimes in. “I’ll have a taco salad with chicken and a large bowl of queso. And I don’t like to have my friend drink alone. But I’m also the designated driver. So, I’ll have a virgin pina colada. But bring a big one so I can at least pretend I’m getting the booze.”
Suddenly a noise from the patio disrupts their conversation.
“Sounds like all the fun’s going on out there. Can we move to the patio? Is there any more room?” Jun points to the outdoor patio at the back of the restaurant then looks at Beth for confirmation. Beth smiles and nods.
“Si,” Juan replies as he escorts them to the back patio. They notice a huge piñata dangling from the pergola as they are seated. Juan holds up his notepad. “Drinks,” he says indicating that he is about to put their drink and lunch orders in. Jun and Beth smile and nod as they take in the ambience. Their communication is slightly awkward. Once he is out of earshot they laugh.
“If he could speak English the two of you might make a nice couple. He’s a cutie,” Jun teases.
“That’s correct. Operative word ‘IF,’" Beth giggles.
Jun has a sobering moment and stares at Beth. “It’s so good to see you smiling again. It’s been such a long time.” Jun reaches over and rubs her friend’s hand, reassuringly.
Beth’s smile turns to a grin and she gives a nod of agreement. “It feels good to just… just be… to not have to worry about what’s gonna happen after the night is over, you know. What kind of mood I’ll have to deal with when I get home.” Beth pauses. “Am I wrong to feel this way? I mean – “
“Absolutely no guilt. Done,” Jun interrupts. “The way things ended was horrible, but it’s over. Your life is from this moment.” Beth smiles in agreement. Jun begins fidgeting around with the items placed in the center of the table.
“So, what about you? Did you decide to relocate or are you still ‘saving the building?’” Beth is exaggerating Jun’s new cause. Without her to worry about Jun’s put all her efforts into trying to save the Millford.
“Actually, there is still a chance that we can buy the building. I haven’t given up just yet. Getting that done could mean having to find some other people who have the money and are willing to take the risk, though.”
“Does that mean the Councilman is on board?” Another server different from Juan drops a basket of complimentary appetizers on the table and vanishes just as quickly as he appeared. Jun and Beth dig in.
“He’s isn’t totally dissuaded, but you know how that goes. Whatever’s gonna make his light shine a little brighter is his best option.” Jun sprinkles on some of the spices that are placed on the table.
“Why can’t you guys just get a letter-writing campaign or make some phone calls or go over his head. I mean, unless you make a little noise nobody’s gonna take you guys seriously.” Beth continues munching on her unseasoned portion of the appetizer.
“I just can’t seem to get a fire lit under anybody. There’s the old lady, but I think she’s making plans to move in with her boyfriend. Then there’s that lady that just recently got divorced –“
“and nobody’s sure she’ll stay sober long enough to do anything,” Beth interrupts.
“Exactly. And the young lady who catered the event… well, she’s probably too young to think about this kind of thing, you know. Just startin’ her career. No kids. No tellin’ where life might take her for her to be seriously making a commitment to purchase a building.” Jun almost sounds hopeless.
“Actually, that’s no excuse. I understand what you’re saying, but she can always lease or –“
Cheers and jeers from the bar and table adjacent to theirs again steals their attention.
“Sounds like all the fun’s over there from what I can tell.” Beth practically spins completely around in her chair. “Looks like they’re doin’ tequila shots.”
“If I didn’t have to go to work in the morning I’d have half a mind to join them.” Another server brings drinks and entrees to the table, again leaving just as quickly as they came.
Beth turns and looks back at Jun. “Don’t you have some time saved up that you’re about to lose?’ Beth has a mischievous grin on her face.
Jun lights up at Beth’s implication. “Are you suggesting-?’
“I’m suggesting,” Beth nods. “I do believe that I’ll probably develop a nasty stomach flu during the night that’ll render me unemployable for a period of no less than 24 hrs.”
“Say no more. Let’s get in on the fun.”
The two grab their food and slip over closer to where the fun seems to be going on.