as i was in line at la madeleine, purchasing the aforementioned ceasar salad, there was a black man who looked, shall we say, just the slightest bit out of place in the university park restaurant.
i'd seen him walk in with a cane, his legs obviously handicapped in some way. he was sweating as if he'd walked a long way. or who knows? maybe walking in his state made him sweat even if it was a short way.
i was outside on the phone for a bit. but when i walked in and got in line, he was squished into this corner right next to the to-go cash register, perched on the window sill, sipping ice water through a straw in one of those clear plastic cups they give you for free.
i smiled at him. he smiled at me. i waited for my salad.
then he leaned over to me and whispered, "these good lookin' people in here sure are good lookin', but they sure ain't nice to you."
i looked into his eyes as he laughed a painful, sort of bitter laugh.
and i said, "i know."