A Last Mimosa
We always sat in the back-corner booth of Sarabeth’s UES for Sunday Brunch. It felt private in the leatherette booth and gave Sharon an open platform for sharing her weekly therapy conversations. She came across as detached from the person seated across the table, speaking about that other person in the third person. Sharon this and Sharon that. Not that we needed to engage in Sharon’s emotional and physical status, but she gave us the update whether or not we wanted it. Marty, her husband, shifted and cringed while the words spilled out onto the table. Appearing as if he sat on his hands, he must have been clawing at the bench, to prevent clapping his hand over Sharon’s mouth. Well, that was what my husband would relay to me he might do, if I shared so much information about us. Marty squirmed, the more information Sharon released. I am sure he was trying to escape the impending synopsis of personal moments. But to Sharon, private and public had no division, and she openly shared with us.
Since our earliest, single days in NYC, brunch was our thing. As couples, we were the childless holdouts in our friend group. Yet, we continued to do brunch in a place where children clamored over tables and chairs, and played cars in the aisles. We remained childless by choice, Sharon and Marty due to Sharon’s perpetual anxiety about planning the perfect moment. The three of us, other than Sharon, had arrived at the outcome, after observing countless other friends and acquaintances, that there never was, nor would be, a perfect time or timing. Sharon kept a running tally of her menstrual cycles, her business travel, her social calendar, Marty’s schedule, and moon phases in her app for the premium conception moment.
My husband consoled Marty when Sharon left for the restroom. I always followed; she would have looked back and called me, so I obliged without a reminder. Timed after ordering and before meals arriving, it was where Sharon and I grappled with her baby obsession. I usually left the restroom forgetting to use it, after getting caught up in her anxiety. Marty questioned the therapy when a $10.99 breakfast of oatmeal and bananas every other week provided the same outcome. Nothing changed.
I returned to the table before Sharon. She stopped talking from the bathroom stall, and I assumed the conversation had ended.
Sharon slid back into the booth next to Marty. The racket of voices and yelling children blocked the street noise, but not the next table’s conversation, which meant they could hear us. An ear-to-ear grin spread across Sharon’s face, and she placed her hand on Marty’s forearm. He looked up, but at me, not her. In a voice clearly heard above the restaurant’s din, Sharon shared the news that she peed on the stick and was preggers. Yes, that is what she said. Yelled. Screamed. Squealed. Many heads turned towards us, and Marty’s lower jaw dropped. He was staring at Sharon now. I saw a gold cap in the back of his mouth. To share in Sharon’s jubilation, I threw my head back and cheered. My husband said, oh my and shook his head. But he let out a little laugh.
We all stared at Sharon and when I say all, I include the patrons of Sarabeth’s. Even Sharon seemed shocked at her own reaction to her announcement. For a moment, I thought she might clap her hand over her mouth. But before any of us settled into the impending life change thrust upon us, she yelled out to the waitress, cancel my mimosa; I need a glass of milk; I’m with child.
Marty smiled, went flush, and beads of sweat dimpled across his brow. Wow, that’s splendid news, he said, managing a smile. What else was he going to do? His eyes must have hurt, he stretched them so wide. His eyes bulged, and he sent tiny right-left-right-left darting glances to me and to my husband. We whispered congrats, and I bit my bottom lip. It caught us off-guard. Sharon called and texted so frequently about the tests being negative, I gave up rehearsing my positive response.
Like a game of telephone, heads went side-to-side at other tables while the message moved through the crowd. In cacophonous unison, everyone clinked against glasses with silverware and offered congratulatory remarks. The clapping continued for about a minute or two. I will buy them breakfast, shouted a father of two young boys who wiggled vigorously attempting to flee their highchairs. Shards of egg and oatmeal stuck to each child’s face. It was in their hair too. Perhaps they had dunked their heads into the bowl.
I stood up and leaned against the table, hopefully without dipping into a dish. Rows of matchbox cars and a Tonka truck lining the aisle outside the booth prevented me from safely getting up. I hugged Sharon, as much as I could reach around her with my wrists and hands, our hair falling between our pressing cheeks. She melted into me, and I wondered if she should have peed on the pregnancy test kit stick at home instead of in the dark-stained wood and subway-tiled bathroom.
Some moments are fine to experience in solitude, but then again, we are talking about Sharon. I sat back down and slowly sipped what I knew would be my last mimosa for the next few months.