Saturday, July 11, 2009

Tacoma Scene

Both couples were dining al fresco on the Tacoma waterfront at low tide, which didn't bode well. From my table, I could see the two couples sitting opposite one another at adjacent tables. I started to eat my meal and saw a commotion on the deck. One of the men from one of the couples was frantically waving his arms at a passing boat, gesturing wildly. The people around him seemed confused. The boat moved out of view. He sat down but looked distracted. His girlfriend had her back to me and I couldn't read her face. The other couple moved closer together, heads almost touching as they talked. A few minutes passed. Another boat came into view and again the same man ran to the edge of the deck, but this time his pleading worked. I saw the boat move closer to us. The man jumped up from his table and tried to exit the restaurant through a floor-to-ceiling window. The waitress directed him to the exit.

The crowd on the deck had started to move. Diners got up from their tables and moved to the railing. From my left, I could see the man gingerly stepping over rocks, steadily making his way down to the water and toward the boat. Someone yelled that he was stripping naked, but he only stripped down to his boxer shorts. He walked until the water reached his neck, still gesturing to the boat which intermittently gunned its engine or turned in circles, making waves. I saw something tiny and white float towards him and saw him grasp at it, catching it but throwing him off balance. I heard the people on the deck cheer.

For a few minutes, he was lost and I couldn't spot him from my vantage point. When he came within view of my window, he was carrying something in his mouth and scrambling up the rocks wearing the wet boxer shorts and holding his dry jeans. At some point, between my view and the restaurant's entrance, he must have put his jeans back on.

I asked a passing waitress what he was doing out there. She said someone had dropped an i.d. and it fell between the slats of the deck and drifted out into the Sound. When the man came back, most all of the other diners cheered for him. Though the other couple hadn't cheered, he walked right up to them. From out of a soggy pocket, he pulled out an i.d. and handed it to the girl. She gave him a stiff hug, her boyfriend just gave him a nod.

The wet man walked back to his table. Someone else on the deck had bought him a beer. His girlfriend ruffled, then smoothed the hair at the nape of his neck. Across from them, the other couple turned their chairs to the water so all the rest of us could see were their backs. The boyfriend put a meaty arm around the girl. I ate the rest of my food ruminating on which of the two of them was the bigger asshole.


  1. This is a perfect little short story! I love it. Except I'm confused about the last line (which is maybe what makes it a great short story? Hmm): Which two people are you comparing, asshole-wise? (Never thought I'd utter that sentence again!) The boyfriend of the girl who lost her ID, obviously. But who is the second person? The girl who lost her ID, or the man who went to fetch it for her?

  2. HA! The girl. I re-read that 3 times because I was concerned about it and then let it stand because I wanted to go to bed. I have very little storytelling integrity like that. I really did watch all this unfold at a restaurant this past weekend and wanted to write about it because I could not or the life of me figure out why that guy cared so much about getting back some girl's id. The ONLY plausible explanation is that he was the one who may have brushed it off the table (?)Or he is just a profoundly nice guy. But the girl was totally ungrateful. I bet her boyfriend must have felt stupid.

  3. It doesn't matter. What matters is this: "His girlfriend ruffled, then smoothed the hair at the nape of his neck."