The Ramen Burger, Part III

“Hi,” I said, shaking myself out of my daze and looking up. “Um, okay, yeah, I’m definitely going to have to take the ramen burger.”

“Ramen burger,” she said, writing on her pad. “And how would you like it done?”

“‘Done’?” I blinked. “Um, I don’t know, al dente?”

The waitress laughed, either because I’d just inadvertently said something completely adorable and witty or because she was being paid to keep the customer happy and this was the seventeenth time she’d heard this same joke today. “No, the meat,” she giggled. “Medium, well done…?”

“You put meat in it?” I gaped.

“We don’t have to,” she said quickly, “we also do a vegetarian patty-”

Oh God, no,” I hastened, wondering as I always did at the unique cowardice of restaurants clearly designed exclusively for carnivores having vegetarian options. What kind of self-loathing, misery-magnet vegetarian would come to a place like this? Or was it sadistic meat-eaters, dragging their vegetarian friends here to shock them out of their weird hippy ways? “No, no, no vegetarian patty,” I said, “I was just surprised. Um, rare. Yeah. Ramen burger, meat, rare,” I realised I was babbling, closed the menu and did my best to smile sheepishly as I handed it back to the waitress. “Al dente,” I scoffed.

“You want a starter or dessert?”

“No thanks,” I said, deciding I’d better quit while I was ahead, “no time.”

“Okay,” the waitress replied, in that neutral-friendly tone that told me she had taken in my casual attire and the fact that I was here at half-past one in the afternoon on a weekday, and knew perfectly well that I didn’t have anywhere important to be in an hour’s time or less, but also that she didn’t care anywhere near enough to ask me what I was heading off to in such a go-go executive hurry. She made a final note on her pad, and went on her way.

I sighed and sank back into my speculative noodle burger daydream.

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