i used to work near a mall. there was an A&W in the food court. i ordered a Teen burger at lunch one day, and the girl at the register started flirting with me, and continued when she put my order on the tray. they had just launched a new promotion, so i got “A&W bucks” or something with my purchase. she put too many on there, and made a point of it.
so i went back every day and got a Teen burger, a few A&W bucks, and—if she timed the lines right—a few coy words and sly glances as she took my order. i really liked Teen burgers, but even they lose their luster eventually. that didn’t stop me though. the flip side of loyalty might be some neurotic form of fixation. i wanted to see how many i could eat i guess. it’s about a month’s worth.
i learned about her a few sentences at a time, and she, me. she had extra thick eyebrows but i thought it was cute. her name was Elizabeth. computers frustrated her. she hated getting around without a car, and felt trapped when her roommate was out.
about a month after it began, i thought i knew enough. i got up the nerve and asked her out. i offered to drive. “we can go wherever,” i said. her face fell, and she held up the diamond on her left hand—the one that somehow hadn’t been there all month.
i retreated to the crowd and found a seat feeling a little angry and confused. she must have felt bad, because she took a break, a burger, and sat next to me. she hadn’t done that before. well, that was awkward. i don’t remember much, but she said something about being friends. i said, “i got lots of friends.” we ate our burgers in silence after that.
maybe she quit. i never saw her again, though i kept eating lunch at that food court, (i switched to cheesesteaks made by ex-felons), but couldn’t eat a Teen burger for a damn long time. i remembered my A&W bucks, and it turns out i had enough for a Root Bear puppet. i named it after her. also, i wrote a bad song.