When we ask what kind of sandwiches you like

and other silly conversations

I once told someone we lived above the bar. It was late, and I was tired of incessant boring questions and dull conversation. The brick walls and red stuffed booths held sticky, rimmed tables covered in beer, cocktail napkins, and patrons idly chatting and staring into space, and the two of us, lingering on the edge of someone else’s ‘insightful’ babble about the city. We finally said our goodbyes “we’re going to go upstairs. To our apartment. Above the bar, where we live.” We said, holding in giggles and pouring out relief that the Patagonia pullovers left waiting in our rooms would soon be a cozy reality. Walking out of the bar, I turned to take a glimpse of what our so called apartment would look like, to find that the buildings on either side of the pub had second stories, while the building in front of us…did not.

+ + +

“Tell us your favorite joke.” Meg says, looking at me with a smile starting at the corners of her lips. We often get inappropriate jokes that aren’t funny and don’t really make sense, until one fateful Saturday evening, when Megan popped the question. “What’s your favorite joke?” She said, with a wink to me and a cheeky smile in his direction. The first guy went into a long (and when I say long, I mean my feet started to hurt and I started people watching looking for couples on Tinder dates) explanation that started with, “well this isn’t really a joke but…” (insert annoyed emoji here). I patiently waited for his friend to answer the question, but Megan and I were having little hope for the outcome. “Okay,” he said, with animation, “there were two olives on the bar.” I turned to the bar behind me, picturing the little dancing olives. Of course in my mind they were dancing (one with a top hat?). “One fell off the bar,” he continued, “and the other looked down at him and asked, ‘are you alright’? The olive replied, “O LIVE” (pronounced I’ll live, with gusto). I was in stitches. And so was Meg.

+ + +

It occurred to me that he was coming over. I never really think it’s a good situation when the big, tall bouncer of our bar walks to towards someone to tell them to leave because they’re being rowdy, or to break up an argument, but I just smiled and tried to look as inconspicuous as possible. (Were we being framed in a bar heist that we didn’t know was happening until this very moment?) Instead of saying any words at all, he reached into his pocket and pulled out two folded slips of paper. In the dim, yellow light, he placed one paper crane on my friend’s knee, and folded the other in my hand. Then, he walked away.

+ + +

At some point in life I decided that the way a person reacts to the question, “what is your favorite type of sandwich,” would immediately tell me if we would get along. I ask it at the oddest of times, in the weirdest circumstances, because the confused looks I often get is my favorite part of the situation. The type of sandwich you like says a lot about you (turkey avocado, toasted bread no mayo), do you like it homemade, do you like a particular shop on that one corner across from the restaurant with the blue door, do you like something simple or elaborate, are you a vegetarian, are you a food lover, are you a little silly and willing to let your guard down, do you eat bread, are you adventurous, do you have allergies, do you not like sandwiches, are you hungry. If you laugh and answer, or scoff and sound confused, if you suggest we go for sandwiches now, if you roll your eyes, if you return the question. Then maybe our paths were meant to cross just for that moment, just for the one silly little question, do you like your cheese melted and your bread toasted, do you like it cut into triangles or rectangles, what kind of person are you, are you willing to entertain this idea, this friendship, for the moment, for the mutual love of sandwiches.

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