Akuru Sushi, Wyckoff Avenue

“Do you watch Broad City?”

“No, to be honest, I can’t. It reminds me of my ex.”

More than being upset that Josh was already bringing up his ex this early in their formation, Natalie was horrified that they didn’t watch the same shows. Though it would depress the fuck out of generational forebears, that’s the great millennial tragedy: when someone doesn’t watch the same show as you.

Still, Natalie wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt. After all, she was on the rebound too, and in no position to judge Josh for freely bringing up his ex (or maligning Broad City) in the overt way that suggested he was the one who got scarred. But at least it gave Natalie free rein to talk about her own emotional disfiguring, admitting, “Yeah, I can’t even walk down certain streets because of my ex.”

When she said this, it hung in the air, and she knew maybe she had gone way too far in her expression of being deeply cut. After all, Josh had only mentioned the pain of watching a certain show, not the simple act of walking down the street. She suddenly wished the goddamn server would hurry up and take their order to cut the silence. But that’s the thing about empty restaurants–it always makes for slower service somehow.

Josh mercifully decided to gloss over all this talk of past loves by asking Natalie what she planned to order. It was almost as bad as talking about the weather in terms of conversational grappling. She told him, “Oh, just my usual: salmon roll, spicy tuna roll and California roll.”

He then proceeded to ream her for how disgusting and basic California rolls were–a bane to the otherwise transcendental existence and integrity of sushi. It was a bit out of left field, and things were starting to grow very strained very quickly. How much more glossing could the two of them do before they started their own lip line?

Finally, at that moment, the server appeared, a demure Asian man who seemed to pick up on the bizarre tension developing between Josh and Natalie. It was because of this that he barely made eye contact with either of them–he wasn’t accustomed to anyone with romantic intentions coming into Akuru during the day, after all. It was usually just Seamless orders in an abyss of emptiness. Thus, Josh and Natalie were really killing his vibe. But he took their order dutifully, backing away as discreetly as possible to let them continue to meander in the increasing awkwardness of their rapidly devolving date.

This was only the third time Natalie had gone out with Josh, and it was clear that it could be the last. Prior to this, she had talked herself into believing that they had a lot in common, as most girls do when they’re in desperate search of a distraction from the last guy who burned them. After enough bad relationships, one tends to become asomatous. And yes, Natalie suddenly felt very much detached from her body indeed.

When the food finally came, the silence between them was all but clamoring. Then Natalie thought to herself, why do I have to sit here simply because societal politesse dictates that I should? Josh, by this time, had started poking at his teriyaki bowl with an aching ennui–one that was only slowing down the progress of that seemingly out-of-reach conclusion to their rendezvous.

Natalie ought to have known that a lunch date would result in this level of discomfiture. What kind of man can meet in the middle of the day in Bushwick, anyway? A no-good bum, that’s the kind. And even though she was a bum too, the one exemption all women had in the discrimination realm was the need for a job. It didn’t affect their cachet half as much as it affected men’s.

As her mind wandered to this point for a spell, she was interrupted by the server, who was reminding her that she needed to pay the tab. Apparently, during her space-out, Josh had fled the scene and left her with the check. She muttered to herself, “Never trust someone who doesn’t watch Broad City.” Though prior generations might not get it, it is telling when a person doesn’t watch the same things you do.

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