Friday, September 16, 2005

Max the Dedicated Worker

I arrived at work 30 minutes late today but only because I was up early and at my computer at home. Well actually, I had also decided that it was autumn this morning and that I would wear my red wool jacket which meant that I had to change handbags so I wouldn’t clash – you know how it is. But never mind, the only person that saw me stroll in at 9.30 was the managing partner.

I had arranged to meet my friend Coco for lunch at a Japanese restaurant at 1.30. I was not late for lunch as that would have been rude. We looked at the day’s cheap lunch special and after some deliberation decided instead to go for a rather pricey 4-course menu. We had just finished the second course when we realised quite a lot of time had already gone by so I looked at my phone.

“It’s 2.30,” I said.

“Oh no, maybe we’ll have to ask them to box up the rest,” said Coco.

“I was 30 minutes late this morning,” I confessed.

“I was too,” said Coco, as we giggled, knowing full well we were not going to ask them to pack anything to take away.

“What are they going to do, fire me?” Coco added. Native speakers of English with knowledge of the law are not a dime a dozen in this town, after all.

Coco and I had not had a proper catch-up in years, literally, so we had a lot to talk about. Coco is buying a flat and taking on a mortgage, which sounds really scary. (That’s why her name is now Coco, because she is lamenting never being able to buy another Chanel lipstick.)

We talked about recent travels and visits; we talked about the south of France and St Louis. Coco has been to St Louis, she went there for a wedding a few years ago. She had to take a Greyhound bus from Chicago to St Louis and apparently a lot of that was rather traumatising. Coco told me about being in the bus station in Chicago, seeing all of the desperate people – the girl crying to one side, the people having sex in a chair somewhere on the other side, the people that asked Coco for some of her m&m’s, those whose eyes were the size of saucers… Coco herself had not slept in 24 hours and was seeing people as if they were rushing by in a speeded up film.

Then Coco talked about St Louis, especially about how people jumped all over her when they heard her accent.

“Are you American?”

“Well, no, I’m not American.” Coco is decidedly English.

“Where’s Prague?”

“It’s in Europe.”

“Is London in Europe too?”

Needless to say, Coco was not impressed with the level of knowledge in St Louis but, to her credit, she tried not to be judgmental.

Coco was horrified at the prospect of Max going to spend some time in St Louis. Monkey and I have been throwing the idea around, but mostly last Sunday when he was at the end of his 3-day bender and talking about why we should get married (that is a different story altogether, I am probably going to get in trouble for even mentioning it, and it is highly unlikely that we will ever marry each other anyway).

“They’ll never understand you,” Coco warned, “I could not even order a Diet Coke without an American friend interpreting for me.”

And finally after a 2-hour lunch, we paid the bill and went back to work.

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