Brian opened the door for Susanne. and she thanked him. The hostess, a young girl with thick, black hair that gleamed in the light, smiled and grabbed two menus. They were promptly seated.
“This place is incredible,” said Brian. “I can’t believe you’ve never been here.”
“Well,” Susanne said, placing a napkin on her lap, “this is the first time you’ve invited me.”
“Yeah, but still, haven’t you heard?” The waiter arrived with a large basket of chips and three bowls of salsa. Brain ordered a beer for himself and Susanne modestly asked for a water. Brian grabbed for the chips. “I mean everyone at work talks about this place,” he said. “I can’t believe you haven’t been here yet. We come here for lunch all the time.”
“Are you sure getting a beer is okay?” Susanne asked.
Brian waved his hand. “It’s just one. No biggy.” He set the bowls of salsa in a row in front of them. “Okay, so it’s all made here in the restaurant. The salsa is basically goddamned fantastic.”
Susanne smiled and plucked a chip with her fingertips. She dabbed it into the mild sauce and slowly put the chip in her mouth, exaggerating the motion. Her red lipstick was a stark contrast to the dried corn tortilla.
“You barely got any salsa,” said Brian. He grabbed multiple chips for himself and plunged them deep into the spicy salsa. He shoved the food into his mouth. “Goddamn, that’s so good.”
“So Brian,” said Susanne. “What’s this I hear about you breaking up with your girlfriend?” She reached her hand out and played with the bowl of salsa that he frequented. “Are you okay?”
Brian shrugged. “Eh, no biggy,” he said between crunchy bites. “I mean, I didn’t even really think of her as my girlfriend. We went out a couple times, mostly day-dates. Nothing special.”
Susanne feigned hurt. “Are you trying to say this doesn’t count as a date?”
Brian chuckled with a mouth full of chips. He waved a hand at her. “Don’t worry. I’ll still pay.”
Susanne did her best to laugh in a light-hearted way. She turned sideways in her chair to expose her bare legs. She tugged at her dress to pretend as though it wasn’t what she intended. “You’ll just have to ask me out on a real date to make it up to me,” she said.
Brian sniffed at his nose and huffed his breath. “Yeah, sure. Maybe next week?” He collected another batch of chips and began at the salsa again.
“I’m a little busy next week,” she said, “but maybe if you ask real nicely.”
Brian shrugged. “I might be going out of town again anyway,” he said. Small beads of sweat were forming on his brow. “Fuckin’ Harken always sends me out on these goddamn trips. I’m so sick of going to New Jersey.”
Susanne watched Brian’s face go flush, and she drank her water without realizing. He continued to stuff more and more salsa into his mouth. “Aren’t they a good sign?” she asked. “Doesn’t it mean you’re next in line for promotion?”
Brian waved his hand again. The water arrived with his beer and Brian drank it down in one shot. He asked for another as the waiter was walking away. “Who gives a shit? It’s just sales. It’s not like this is anything important.” He slid the waning basket of chips to his side of the table and continued his salsa binge. His was clearly perspiring now. His eyes watered and his nose ran. He dabbed at his nose with a paper napkin.
She looked at Brian and then at the menu. She ordered the crab tacos, and they were very expensive.