“Ugh! That fucking guy!”
“That guy over there. No, over there, sitting with his girlfriend or wife or whatever.”
Two guys were sitting near me. One was loud and opinionated, his friend quiet and mild-mannered. I couldn’t help eavesdropping. Especially after it became clear that the loud guy shared one of my pet peeves.
“Who? Him?" The quiet guy nodded toward a young couple on the other side of the restaurant. "What about him? You know him or something?”
“No, I don't know him. I don't want to know him. He just squeezed lemon all over their oysters. The waiter put down the tray of oysters, and the fucking guy immediately squeezed lemon all over everything. He didn’t even ask the chick if she wanted it like that.”
“Maybe you didn't hear him."
It occurred to me that the loud guy probably had no experience with not being heard and couldn't fathom the possibility. I was hearing him loud and clear without even trying.
As I said, I share this guys pet peeve. As I listened, I remembered an office party I went to last year. Not really a party, just a small group — maybe eight of us. We cut out of work early and went to a nice place for holiday cocktails. When the waiter brought a plate of shrimp for the table to share, I got excited. I like shrimp. But one of my co-workers immediately doused the entire dish with lemon. Not a word to anyone just squeezed every last drop of juice from a wedge and began popping shrimp into his mouth. An otherwise tantalizing treat spoiled. I ate some anyway, of course, but it wasn't the same. I am disapproving of lemon on seafood, but only when I have a personal stake. The loud guy sitting near me was on another level.
The quiet guy continued: "Maybe he asked her quietly. Or maybe they get oysters together all the time, and he knows she likes lemon too.”
“Yeah, maybe. Who the fuck knows. But why do people put lemon on seafood anyway? It overpowers everything. You might as well order a plate of lemons and ask for a little salt water to sprinkle over them. Fucking lemons. I hate lemons. You can't put lemon on, in, or near anything without the taste taking over. I hate oysters, too, as a matter of fact, but that’s beside the point.”
“A lot of people hate oysters. Personally, I like them.”
The quiet guy shrugged.
"They look like phlegm coughed up onto an ashtray that some kid made in grammar school. Fucking gross.”
“Yeah, that is fucking gross. Thanks, man. Thanks a lot. Now I’m really looking forward to eating.”
“What did you get?”