“It might be the best thing to ever happen to you.”
“I highly doubt that.”
We’re in line at a burger joint, the four of us staring up at the chalkboard menu. This place has a peanut-butter/pickle burger that John swears is phenomenal. I’m more interested in the beer list at this point, if only for their cider selection. My heels hurt, these bra straps keep escaping, and I sat through a three-hour conference call this morning. I’m not even that hungry. I just want a drink.
And John won’t shut up about this burger.
“Seriously, it’s worth trying.”
“I don’t even like pickles!”
“Yeah, but the peanut butter sauce they use – ”
“I. Don’t. Like. Pickles.”
“Just have them leave it off!”
“Will it still be the best thing to ever happen to me if I do?”
“I mean, probably.”
The line advances and we shuffle forward. I watch enviously as the trio of guys in front of us, in tucked-in dress shirts and polished black shoes, orders a pitcher of beer. I’m not actually sure if my work allows me to have a drink over lunch, but it’s probably better not to risk it. That seasonal apricot cider will have to wait.
“Hang on.” I do a double-take at the menu. “They call their smaller burgers girly-size?”
“What the hell! Is that some kind of attempt to shame people into buying full-size burgers?”
John shrugs. “Girls like smaller burgers.”
I glance at Dannica, hoping she overheard, but she and Matt are deep in conversation over the beer list. She’s very prim today in her black sheath dress – she doesn’t look like it, but I know she’s capable of annihilating twelve-inch subs and getting hungry again two hours later. A girly-size burger is a nice snack for her.
I actually planned to order a smaller burger, but now I want a full-size one, just for spite. “I don’t want a pickle burger and I’m not ordering anything called ‘girly-size!'”
I want a beer now, too: a huge, manly pint of something bitter and hoppy with too much foam. So what if I can’t actually finish an entire beer without feeling full? So what if it would be nothing more than a waste of money to order a beer I can’t drink and a burger I won’t finish?
I’m not sure why I can’t stomach the idea of just ordering a cider and a small burger, as if ordering the things I like to eat is something to be ashamed of, but the guys ahead of us finish their order and it’s my turn.
“I’ll have a small-size blue cheese burger, no pickles –”
“The girly size?”
I stare at the cashier, aware that it’s not his fault that his stupid company has a stupid item name and that the only effect a scathing tirade would have would be to ruin this kid’s day.
“Sure. With no pickles. And – ” And a porter almost slips out. “And an apricot cider,” I amend.
Screw work. Screw gendered drinks. Screw gendered food sizes. I swipe my credit card, take my cider, and leave. The cider is tart, a good match for my mood.
John sits down across from me with a strange-colored soda. He sees me staring at it and beams.
“Diet Coke, Dr. Pepper, and lemonade.”
“See, this is why I don’t take food recommendations from you.”
Seated at the table behind him are the three banker-looking guys with their pitcher. A fourth joins them: our boss, Colin. I try to hide my cider behind my purse.
He waves at us, his hand halting when he sees the poorly-hidden cider. One eyebrow raises.
“Colin! Pull up a chair.” His friend pours him a glass, but Colin gestures for him to wait. He comes to our table and leans down to me.
“Nice job on that call, Cassie.”
“Oh – thanks.”
“The Boston branch can be a handful, huh.”
I laugh weakly. “Yeah.”
“Enjoy lunch.” He claps John on the shoulder, does the smallest of double-takes at his dishwater-colored soda, and sits down with his friends.
I sigh. My feet feel better now that I’m sitting again. A delicious basket of salty, greasy, pickle-free goodness is on its way and I didn’t have to call it “girly.” Best of all, not only is my boss not mad at me, he complimented me. It almost makes me forget it’s only Tuesday.
Matt and Dannica join us and I raise my cider. “Cheers.”