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At Dinner

At a tiny Japanese comfort food restaurant, J. and I are the last couple left, both stuffed, leaning back, can’t-eat-another-bite. A tiny, friendly Japanese woman—the chef, I think—appears at our table to refill our water and tea.

“How is everything?”

J. is startled, glances at the chef and then back down at her half-eaten meal.

“Really good!” I say.

J. immediately takes another bite of her chicken, swallowing with a pained expression. The chef chuckles and says, “Good, good!”

J. keeps eating. The chef beams for half a second, satisfied, then walks away.

J. sees me watching her eat regretfully and turns bright red, afraid to glance over her shoulder to see if she can stop. I grin from ear to ear—but I give her no hints.