I take out an old crumpled note from my purse immediately after settling down. Like a thief, I steal a few glances at people around us in the restaurant. When I am ninety five percent sure that no one is watching (one can never be too sure) I pass the money to my partner in crime, who is seated opposite me. He is shivering due to the cold from the fan. I had told him earlier that we should relocate but he would not budge. The stubborn mule dug his own grave.
I tell him that he will pay the bill on my behalf. Yes, I do not want this friend (read criminal accomplice) of mine to be seen as inferior. Yes, it is my turn to foot the bill. Yet, I give him the money to safeguard his reputation. I know he will thank me forever for my ‘kind’ gesture.
He takes the money and smiles wryly. Mission accomplished, I tell myself. I expect him to be overjoyed. I expect him to shower me with compliments. I expect him to shout from the rooftops. I expect him to go to each restaurant table telling everyone his testimony dubbed: ‘From grass to grace’. I want him to behave like someone who has just won a thousand dollars.
In no time, deep creases form on his forehead. His wry smile becomes a frown. The words that come out of his lips slap me so hard that I have no choice but to wake up and smell the coffee.
“Why are you doing this?” he asks, visibly offended.
“Uhm..” I struggle to find words. I did not see this coming.
“Let me tell you something, you don’t owe anyone an explanation. Take your money. You are the one to do the paying.”
He leaves me with an egg on my face. I take back the money and tell him that he is different. I do not have to tell people that I am paying because he did so the last time we met. I do not have to care about what people will say or think. I do not owe them an explanation.
That is my friend Legrand. He is someone who can delivers headaches to people because of his endless chatter. Other times his noise making does not go beyond the confines of his head. He is so unpredictable. I learn so much from him everyday. Lessons can be learnt from anything 🙂