I haven’t been a nice person for a really long time. I’ve come to accept this too late of course, as is the case with many who come to the end of their lives before they have the opportunity to learn what life is about or how to enjoy it. Being youngish, you seldom have the opportunity to realize that every moment is precious and that what you do and how you treat people accounts a lot for how life progresses.
It had been a very busy morning, and as usual, I was hustling and bustling from one area of activity to another oblivious of how I was interacting with the world around me. If I bumped into someone or invaded their personal space, I was not accustomed to apologizing or for that matter even acknowledging that I had committed such an offense at all.
On this particular morning however I made the mistake of bumping into an Asian girl, I was not certain of what nationality, as with most other ethnicities I had not taken the time to learn the differences and fell into stereotyping that all Asians were the same. Furthermore, I generalized that they were rude as a culture and that me being concerned with her discomfort was a waste of effort.
She sneered at me and asked, “Aren’t you even going to excuse yourself.”
“For what?” I asked. “Didn’t you see me standing there? You could just have easily gone around or for that matter waited until I had passed by. That’s how you do most of the time.”
“For your information, I was carrying all this stuff and did not see you coming. Are you going to apologize or not?”
“Mostly not ,” I said nastily.
The girl picked up her upset parcels and went about her day.
If this had been an isolated incident, others watching that had seen me before might have chalked it up to a bad day, or one where the bed had moved and I had gotten up on the wrong side of it. But this was my usual demeanor. Some people shook their heads, others cursed under their breaths, and some just ignored it, especially those as stupid as me. What did they care if I was nasty to others so long as I checked myself when I interacted with them?
Don’t get me wrong, I could be syrupy sweet when I wanted something, or I thought there was a situation that might benefit me in some way, but mostly I was just rude and obnoxious unnecessarily.
That evening, after a day of bruising the hearts and egos of others all day, I felt especially inclined to pamper myself. A guy I had grown especially fond of invited me out to eat and I thought it might be gratifying to patronize one of the new restaurants that had popped up in my neighborhood. He was game and itemized my choices. We chose a Thai restaurant and walked the short distance from my apartment to a block of brand new shops and restaurants that had not yet been investigated by me.
Our waitress came over and handed us the menu. While flirting with my friend who ordered some spicy dish I couldn’t pronounce let alone handle the heat of, I ordered a noodle dish, some type of spring roll, and an inviting dish called mushrooms galore.
When the dishes began to arrive I tucked in. The food was great and I had nothing to complain about. But near the middle of the meal a steaming plate was brought to the table. It was piled high with all colors of bell pepper, jalapeno, and mounds and mounds of mushrooms. There must have been at least 20 or more varieties on the plate. There were lots of different ones I had never seen and I joked to my friend, “Some of these must be poison for them to be able to serve a dish with such a variety,” and I laughed.
My friend joined the joke, “If that were the case, a person would have to know exactly who they were serving, good thing you don’t have any enemies.” He continued to laugh.
I laughed too, that is until I suddenly felt like I had indigestion and burped. I covered my mouth and glanced over at the waitress serving a family with their all too obnoxious children and I wondered how their parents could tolerate the behavior of such offspring. As I looked at her face, a feeling of familiarity crept over me. It didn’t register right away, in fact it didn’t until the second burp occurred, and with it I began to feel light-headed.
The next was accompanied by a feeling of euphoria, and I knew at that point that something was definitely wrong. I looked over as the waitress stooped to pick up a spoon one of the children had dropped and realized just where I had seen her. My heart was racing and I wasn’t certain whether it was the circumstances or the food.
“So I guess it might have been a good idea to apologize. Look, I get it, but it’s too late to take it back.” I said looking at her.
“Yes, I suppose that is true, but it is never too late to acknowledge that we are wrong and to be sorry. We all live in this life with one life and how we interact with others may often add or take away from their existence. As difficult as life can be it is always best to try to affect others in a way that brings them some small measure of comfort or joy. If we cannot do this, maybe we are better off dead.” The girl answered and smiled.
I understood what she meant. Like my earlier mistake it was too late for her to take back what I had already eaten. “For what it’s worth, I’m sorry.”
“It’s best to cherish every moment we have in life,” she added and smiled again.
I figured if I was going to die I should at least enjoy it. I whispered obscene invitations in the ear of my friend thinking to give him the best night of his life, then looked up at the waitress again.
“In that case,” I responded as we rose to leave, “I‘d like my mushrooms galore to go.”
Death by Mushrooms Galore © DJuna Blackmon 2015, All Rights Reserved