While at home in Ireland my poor mother wept bitter tears at the thought of her daughter with the university education serving hamburgers to pop stars.
I had been working there about six months the night I met James. It was a Friday night, which was traditionally the night the OJs frequented our restaurant. “OJ” standing, of course, for Office Jerks.
At five o’clock every Friday, like graves disgorging their dead, offices all over the center of London liberated their staffs for the weekend so that hordes of pale, cheapsuited clerks descended on us.
It was de rigueur for us waitresses to stand around sneering disdainfully at the besuited clientele, shaking our heads in disbelieving pity at the attire, hairstyles, etc., of the poor customers.
On the night in question, James and three of his colleagues sat in my section and I attended to their needs in my normal irresponsible and slapdash fashion. I paid them almost no attention whatsoever, barely listened to them as I took their order and certainly made no eye contact with them. If I had I might have noticed that one of them (yes, James, of course) was very handsome, in a black-haired, green-eyed, five-foottenish kind of way. I should have looked beyond the suit and seen the soul of the man.
Oh, shallowness, thy name is Clare.
But I wanted to be out back with the other waitresses, drinking beer and smoking and talking about sex. Customers were an unwelcome interference.
“Can I have my stake very rare?” asked one of the men.
“Um,” I said vaguely. I was even more uninterested than usual because I had noticed a book on the table. It was a really good book, one that I had read myself.
I loved books. And I loved reading. And I loved men who read. I loved a man who knew his existentialism from his magi-realism.And I had spent the last six months working with people who could just about manage to read Stage magazine (laboriously mouthing the words silently as they did so). I suddenly realized, with a pang, how much I missed the odd bit of intelligent conversation.
Suddenly the people at this table stopped being mere irritants and took on some sort of identity for me.
“Who owns this book?” I asked abruptly, interrupting the order placing.
The table of four men were startled. I had spoken to them! I had treated them almost as if they were human!
“I do,” said James, and as my blue eyes met his green eyes across his mango daiquiri, that was it, the silvery magic dust was sprinkled on us. In that instant something wonderful happened. From the moment we really looked at each other, we both knew we had met someone special.
I maintained that we fell in love immediately.
He maintained nothing of the sort, and said that I was a romantic fool. He claimed it took at least thirty seconds longer for him to fall in love with me.
First of all he had to establish that I had read the book in question also. Because he thought that I must be some kind of not-so-bright model or singer if I was working there. You know, the same way that I had written him off as some kind of subhuman clerk. Served me right.
KEYES, Marian. Watermelon. New York: Perennial, HarperCollins, 2002 (Edited).
In the sentence “If I had [made eye contact] I might have noticed that one of them was very handsome”, we can say that the verb tense of the sentence is:
- A Present, real or possible conditional
- B Perfect, unreal or impossible conditional
- C Past or unlikely conditional
- D Past, real or unlikely conditional