"Oh," he said. "Oh. I see." After an awkward moment of silence, he said, "So I'll see you tomorrow at the barbecue, then." I said yes and ended the call, deliberately omitting a civil, "Enjoy your dinner."
When resolving sibling rivalries, my mother's favorite tactic was to ask, "How would you feel if you were in your sister's shoes?" If I complained about a classmate, she would pose the same question. Until every interaction we had was infused with hypersensitivity, a perceptive awareness of how the other person may have felt. The small voice in my head, sewn into my mind with the diligence of Mom's persistent needle, is always asking, "How would I feel if someone said to me what I just said?" or, the harder to control, "How would I feel if someone said to me what this guy just said to that girl?"
Throughout the third course, the artist spoke with David, and I occasionally looked up from my banana wonton to offer an obligatory, blank smile. I had not exchanged two words with this man who had openly behaved like an ungracious dick. I did not need to. I knew all I needed to know. No amount of niceties from him could ever erase from my mind the moment in which I had placed myself in that waiter's shoes and felt humiliated, indignant, and angry. Three unnecessary, painful, unproductive feelings, all because of a glass of wine, an accident, and an asshole.