I Am a Jonah

No, It’s Not Me ... But It Could Be!

No, It’s Not Me … But It Could Be!

I usually take lunch by myself at 11:45 am, just before the rush begins. I like to find myself virtually alone in a restaurant, deeply buried in my copy of The New Yorker or The New York Review of Books, with a glass of plain, unsweetened iced tea in front of me. Sometimes, I think that I am something of a Jonah to the dining establishments I frequent: Not for me the gay, bubbling crowds. I like it quiet so that I can read. What restaurant can long survive an influx of diners such as me?

Today, I read reviews of books about Hugh Trevor-Roper and Simon Leys, wondering to myself whether I could craft a blog out of these articles. Not without difficulty, because I have read nothing by the former and only one novel by the latter. I thought instead I would write about my lone wolf lunches during the work week. They give me a chance to catch up on the two magazines that mean the most to me, and they preserve my freedom of choice to eat at a place which would not send my glucose reading soaring skyward. ( Anyway the rest of the staff usually takes lunch about an hour after I do.)

Because I am a sort of back-room character at the accounting firm where I work, I rarely have “business lunches,” which is fine with me. I don’t like having to explain a diabetic meal regimen to strangers if I can help it.

Diabetes really doesn’t have much to do with it. Even forty years ago, I liked to lunch alone. It was around then that I discovered The New York Review of Books, which was on sale at the drugstore next to Marshall’s Coffee Shop at the corner of Olympic and Barrington. That building has since collapsed in the 1994 Northridge Earthquake. It was mostly a medical building. I remember reading in the L.A. Times that the doctors were unable to evacuate their medical records because the building was likely to pancake without notice. I wonder what happened to those records….

When it comes time for me to retire, I will probably eat almost all of my lunches with Martine, as I do now with my suppers. That would be fine with me: The quiet reading time won’t be necessary for me then as it is now in the crazed atmosphere of a Westwood accounting firm.