After spending an hour at Britex looking at Chantilly versus Alencon lace for my veil, I walked up Geary toward Union Square starving. Ta-da! The Cheesecake Factory. I love this chain for its monstrous portions. I sat myself at the bar in between a heavy black person and a heavy white person. While I was reviewing the menu, the 48-year-old blonde next to me pointed at her salad. “This thing is an appetizer. Can you believe it? If you’re thinking of a salad, don’t go for an entree. This thing is big enough and it’s sooo good.” I thanked her and ordered an appetizer-sized BLT salad. She continued, “Are you looking for a wine recommendation? I’m from Napa and my family’s in the wine business. I can help you pick out a good one.” I nodded, glad to have someone point me in the right direction.
For the next hour, she happily chatted with me on her left-hand side and a good-looking man on her right. She was dressed well with newly-colored blonde hair from Festoon Salon. She was fat and I make this distinction because I swear I felt like I was talking to a skinny model. Clara was radiant and confident. She bubbled energy between me, the two bartenders, and the single man. I felt like she’d cast this positive spell on everyone around her. So much so that the hottie to her right gave her a taste of his steak. I’m not talking about cutting her a piece and pushing his plate toward her. The man cut a piece and romantically beelined for her mouth with his fork. It was a very sexual gesture in the middle of the freaking Cheesecake Factory! Unbelievable. But at the same time, totally not. We were all really attracted to her.
They exchanged business cards. Again, I need to point out that digits were traded between a tall handsome man in his early forties and a short fat woman in her late forties. When he was gone, she turned her focus solely on me. “So tell me. Are you Tagalog, Bicol…? What are you?”
I was floored. How did she know the Filipino dialects? I answered, “I’m Ilocano.”
“Get out! But you’re too light to be Ilocano.”
Here was this blonde, blue-eyed woman asking me these very insightful questions about my heritage. Before I could ask, she went on, “My grandparents were missionaries in the Philippines. My mom was born there. I know all about the headhunters, the history, the culture. Oh! I love adobo and pancit. Those are my favorites. Everyone likes lumpia, but I’m really into adobo and pancit.”
Before she left, I said, “Clara, I wish I could be more like you. You’re so outgoing and energetic. I’ve had such a good time talking with you!”
She waved her hand in dismissal, “You’re just as outgoing. What are you talking about? The pleasure was all mine.”
I think it’s so easy to commiserate at home when you’re single or you feel fat or you’re not having a good hair day. Clara was a shining example of never taking anything for granted. Single people don’t have to be lonely. A heavy woman can land that hot guy. We can all learn something even from strangers that we meet at the Cheese.