Let it be me, he says.
We're at a steakhouse in Como where old brick lines one side of the road, where it is hard to get a parking space. I guess if you only had one thing to say about Como then it would be history. It feels weathered by secrets. It is a town that shines at night, shines brilliantly. No big city lights, just a conglomerate of shine. Underneath is the best steak you will ever or never put in your mouth.
You'll never find anyone who treats you better than me.
What does that mean? I ask.
We are in the back of the restaurant, a place where non smoking meets smoking and drinking and old black and whites of livestock and people. You will want to walk up to at least one photo. Do it, everyone has. As you walk you will notice the thick wood floors. They are sturdy with a shake.
It means, Shea, nobody will treat you as good as I do.
What if I don't have to be treated?
I am sitting on a long booth bench facing the most perfectly lit, mirrored above hard stained wood, goes from here to there bar. The favorite whiskeys are presented as if they are classic music, and I guess they are. It feels lonely and social at the same time. Wear whatever you would like. That one guy at the bar with overalls and white t-shirt, he knows the lady who just walked in all dressed up for a night. He went to school with her.
What do you mean? You don't have to be treated?
What if you got the wrong girl? What if there was a time in my life where I needed someone to treat me a certain way and then I found out that I was okay not being treated? You need someone younger than me.
Everyone needs someone.
I notice a table off to the left, a television high in the right corner. Sports of one kind or another are being played on it. A ticker tape moves just as fast as this place feels slow and thoughtful. There is a group of men ages fifty and above sitting at the table. It is election time and they are election. They are black and white and dressed nicely with shirts and dark jeans handled by the cleaners. They are loud by nature. One thick one says, I love sunshine. I love Jesus. Vote for me. That's all it takes to get votes here in this state. The guys around the table chuckle and nod but I assure myself that at least one of them wants to tell him to shut his face.
I have many. Have you met my family? Mom, Dad, Jason, Josh, Priscilla, Madalyn. Have you ever heard of a kid named Slater? Yeah. Do you know my friends? Oh my gosh, I can't keep up 'cause I have so many someones in my life and they all treat me exactly as I need to be treated. But I do love you. Does that help?
No. I want you to only want me, a man woman relationship.
You're a man. I'm a woman. We have a relationship.
It's not enough.
Did you hear what that guy over at that table said?
I jot down the big man's words on a napkin. They seem significant. I am amused he thinks the people of Mississippi are that stupid. Like being from this state he bought into the lie about this state. I have to think that at least some of us see through his shenanigans and his views make him, let's say, less attractive to us. I want to be courageous enough to walk to his table, pull up a chair, pat him on the shoulder and say, I like that you love Jesus. I love him too and I love sunshine when it's not beating down on me in August but I also love the people who represent this state to think about issues we face on a daily basis and not just a general feeling which marks a majority. What do you think, sir, about a woman's control over her own body? What, sir, do you think about a person's right to die with dignity? Sir, can you please let me know what you think about the osmosis of our monetary system? What does freedom mean to you, sir? Let's start there. But I don't 'cause our votes will tell him what we think. I have never been under the impression the people of this state are stupid but we don't mind the rap since it also means we are underestimated.
No. What did he say?
I show him the napkin. Isn't that crazy?
Yeah, crazy. How's your steak?
It's good. I love this place.