Tapas with Alice Munro

December 10, 2010

She’s there before me, half a pitcher into the sangria.

“Thanks for waiting,” I say.

“We’ll get another,” she downs another glass, crunches an apple piece. “I’ll pay for the cab.”

The sangria is too sweet. Full of syrup.

“I asked for it like that,” she says, reading my reaction.

“You know I like it on the tart side.”

“Have an apple.” She picks out a slice and tries to put it in my mouth. I resist and she nearly comes off her stool.

“What’s going on?”

“You’re drunk.”

“I am not!”

“You almost fell off your stool.”

“You moved!”

“Drunk.”

The bartender brings the tortilla, the shrimp and olives.

“Why come if you’re going to be this way?”

“I just wish you would wait for me when we go out. I wasn’t even late.”

“I was early.” Alice takes half of the tortilla with her fork.

The bartender brings another pitcher of sangria. “Tart,” he says and winks at me, nods at Alice.

“See?”

“My daughter’s separated,” I say.

“From what?”

“Her husband, Paul.”

“Unfaithful?”

“No. Just feeling distant. Actually, I have no idea. It might be another woman.”

“Could be your daughter. Another man. Another woman. Both.”

I took the rest of the tortilla and ate it in one bite. I stabbed the rest of olives and swallowed them as well, even the pits.

“You never know,” she says.

“Can’t you just listen? Are you so insensitive that you can’t reach out and touch my hand when I say something like that? It’s my daughter. Your goddaughter.”

“Bartender,” she says, “A cheese plate please.”

“Manchego?”

“Yes. Si.”

“Did you even hear what I just said,” I ask.

“Si. Yes. Relax. Things work themselves out. Should we get some ham?”

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