My Two Lunches

Today I was taken out for lunch, to Shoebox Canteen, just around the corner from the office. There’s not space for many people to eat at once, but if you can get a table, you get served quickly. The menu isn’t extensive, but that’s also a good thing as it reduces humming and hawing over what to eat. Being a vegetarian, the only things I could eat were French fries, or a salad. As I care about my diet, I ordered … the fries. But to make it appear I was a proper person, I had the salad as well.

A mozzarella salad. Which, I thought, would be bits of cheese and something leafy and green. I didn’t expect bits of Parma ham to be hiding in there. It was no great hardship to pick them out, but it was a strange choice of ingredient. Or at least, odd to put it in there without advertising the fact.

I vacuumed up my food then rushed back to the office for another meeting, which went on for an hour until everyone left en masse, which at first I thought was a practical joke, until I remembered about the departmental Christmas lunch, and I had to run out of the office and give chase in a taxi all the way to the Rendezvous Hotel over by Bugis.

I first stayed at the Rendezvous back in 2010, when we were attending our friends’ wedding in Singapore. It was a beautiful wedding, perhaps enhanced by sitting in the Rendezvous beforehand, watching Anaconda II, and after the reception, going back and watching Die Hard, a film that never fails to delight.

This time round, I didn’t get to see any enormous snakes or ticked-off New York cops in white vests and bare feet. Instead, we had a late lunch at a French bistro within the hotel, with copious amounts of wine. The food was good, but not memorable, but there again, since the vegetarian option was pasta and a few vegetables, there wasn’t much I would have to say about it. The absence of ham in my meal did not go unnoticed, and the coffee afterwards was strong but not like the demoniac brew I felt victim to yesterday.

Company lunches can always be a bit odd: do you get fully charged on strong booze, or do you exercise restraint and aim for decorum? It’s worse when you’re on your second lunch of the day, and you worry you might burst from over indulgence.

Hardest of all was to return to work after that, and try to make sense of the world and everything in it, when a sensible person would have crawled under their desk and gone to sleep. My daughter visited the office at the end of the day, and would probably have been more productive than I was at that point. Two lunches seems like a gift, but it’s a hard burden to carry.

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