Saturday afternoon. I am food shopping with my friend Peter, something we do from time to time after hiking. We’re loitering in Seafood, leaving threads of dirt from our boots wherever we walk. We each hold a service number.

“I’m thinking shrimp cocktail. Sole with lemon-butter. I make a mean lemon-butter sauce. Arugula and brown rice.”

Peter brags about his cooking about as often as the average man pulls on boxers. “Pretty special for a night in, huh?” I know he doesn’t have a date tonight because we traded dating stories trudging up the mountain. On the way down, we talked recipes, Muddy Waters, and having the blues.

He gives me a look. “I’m having a date with myself,” he says. “I put on a little music to cook by. Set the table, mix a vodka tonic. And experience the Peter magic.”

“The Peter magic?”
“In your case,” he says, “it would be the Shirley magic. Try it sometime.”
“Number twelve,” says a voice from behind the fish counter.
“Come for dinner tonight,” says Peter, turning to give his order. “I’ll show you how it’s done.”
I don’t have a date either.
“You’ll always have a date if you can be your own entertainment center,” he says.
He’s right.
“Next time,” I say.


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