they should be laughing.The hostess puts down her crossword,
and sends us to a corner.On her hat: Save the whales
or eat them now. You decide.
We decide to see the menu, then not.
Too much choice is confusing.
Over a dish of Tanzanian yams
you tell me what’s new.
“My son’s back home.”
“There’s mold in the basement.”
“I suck at divorce.”
I tally tubas, forty or so
nailed to the walls. I played one
back in school, I say,
puffing up my cheeks for proof.
Two booths over, some cub scouts howl
and chew their way to achievement.
“Happy for now,” you say, satisfied.
Tonight I would be happy to join those scouts
but for the dreadful necessity of merit
and those awful caps they wear.
Everything improves with practice, I lie.
The truth is I did not play the tuba,
I was a cub scout for only a week,
and if I learned anything from the experience
it’s that quitting can be delicious.
I try eating my artichokes, fibrous
as cysts, hard as grenades,
and tell you things are bound to get better.
They are. But sometimes they don’t.