It’s been a rather mild winter in Philadelphia. All of two inches of snow has fallen and they melted well before I could fetch a shovel out of the garage. But every so often, the temperature dips low enough to warrant a winter coat and scarf. Last Tuesday, while it didn’t get that chilly, there was a nip in the air that left me craving soup for dinner.
“It’s a good night for something warm,” the man to my right said as he ladled some vegan split pea into a container.
“No kidding,” I offered back as I plucked a cup free and lifted the lid on the mushroom barley.
“This stuff’s the best,” he swooned with a little glimmer in his eye and a nod to the ladle in his hand.
“Especially on a night like tonight,” I responded with a half smile.
“No, you really should try the split pea,” he suggested.
I leaned over and peered into the vat of green guck, thick mossy soup I’ve eaten plenty of times before. It is good. It’s really good. But last winter I indefinitely shelved all split pea indulgences. It makes me fart. Like so badly that when I’m in my car alone and it’s raining, I won’t even let a squeaker out for fear of self asphyxiation.
I lifted my eyes from the soup and looked at the man to my right excitedly awaiting my willingness to play along with the subtle flirtation, playful banter between two people over the soup bar at Wholefoods. My eyes cast one last glance into the split pea vat as I decided how to respond. Like do I dip a finger into his cup and lustfully lick it clean? Do I suggest we have a soup off, crawling into a banquette at the front of the store to further discuss the finer points of our selections? Or do I boldly announce to a perfect stranger that split pea makes me a toxic farting machine? I looked up to see his eager eyes, chestnut brown eyes that offered warmth and comfort. Then I answered.
“Maybe next time. Enjoy your soup,” I said as I filled my cup with mushroom barley, clipped the lid on and pressed my palm down to make sure it was secure.
“Maybe,” he offered with a nod before returning the ladle to the tub.
I scooped up my dinner, offered a gentle smile and meandered toward the front. And as I exchanged a crumpled five dollar bill for my container, I started to wonder if the conversation really had anything to do with soup.