Saturday, March 27, 2010

The Flip Side


The quarter spun around in circles on the glass table much like a swan would dance on a lake. There was almost a silence in the room, except for the quarter spinning on the glass. It danced from his side of the table to mine until he slammed his hand on it. “Call it,” he covered the quarter with his right hand.

“Who cares?” I shrugged my shoulders.

“Well,” Dennis lifted one eyebrow, “it kills the time until our food gets here. I think that’s a good reason.”

“Fine,” I gave in, “heads.”

Dennis lifted his hand from the restaurant table. George Washington gave a smile from the silver coin. “Heads, you were right.”

I didn’t really care at that moment, but apparently, Dennis did. He flipped the coin into the air. “Call it,” he yelled out in the middle of the restaurant.

“Dennis, keep your voice down, man!”

“Ah, who cares,” he snatched the coin in midair as if he were catching a fly. “Are you going to call it or what?”

“I think you reading Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead was a bad idea. You’ve been flipping that damn coin the whole time we’ve been in here,” I sipped some water from my cup.

“Pfft, you’re the one who recommended it to me,” he shook his fist with the coin still in it, “and what else am I going to do with a quarter anyway. What can you buy with a quarter nowadays? Huh?”

“A stick of gum?”

“Vatche, in all seriousness,” he looked at me with stern eyes as he put the coin on his arm, “who sells only a stick of gum?”

“I guess you’re right,” I admitted. “Tails, by the way.”

“Heads, again.” Dennis dropped the quarter onto the glass table and moved his long hair out of his eyes. “You know what?”

“What?” I asked as I stared into his dark, brown eyes. Eyes that had seen so much more than mine, but he was still na├»ve to the world. The darkness in his eyes was almost like coal, but there was not only darkness but also an outer ring of fire that surrounded the darkness.

“I’m going to miss this,” he lifted his hands as if he were prepared to embrace something.

“I know what you mean,” I let out a deep sigh.

“You going to Irvine, though I wanted you to achieve your dreams and stuff, is kind of a let down,” he dropped those embracing arms to his sides. “I wish you could stay here, on this side of California and—”

“I’m going to come back and visit every weekend,” I interjected almost robotically.

“But soon every weekend becomes every two weekends, then every month, and soon we won’t talk at all,” he looked down at the quarter again. “I wish life was as easy as flipping a coin and calling ‘heads’ or ‘tails’, but it isn’t. Life isn’t that simple, but it can also be compared to flipping a coin, because you never know what you’re going to get. Never.”

“I guess that has some truth, but you know me, Dennis. I’ll stay in touch because we have these connections that bind us. Whether they are made of strings with two tin cans at each end, a telephone wire, an internet line, or even a chain, that connection is still there. So, even if I live on one side of the world and you live on the other, I’ll still contact you. We will always hear each other’s voice.” I grabbed the coin and flipped it into the air. “Dennis, call it.”

“Tails never fails,” he said with a smile.

I tried to catch the coin but it landed on the tile floors of the restaurant. It had landed exactly in a crack, on its side. “Ah, Dennis, what do we call that one?”

“See,” he laughed while he held his gut, “you never know what to expect, even when flipping a damn coin.”

I joined his laughter at the restaurant and as people looked around to see what was so funny, I didn’t have a care in the world. I was there in a restaurant with one of my best friends, like any other Friday. And like any other day in my life, there was always something unexpected and something different. Always.

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