The museum food was expensive, of course, but there was no time for anything else but the cafeteria line of quiches, soups, and sandwiches. It was cold, and so most people chose the quiche--the soup was dubious.
"What's that?" said a woman, holding up the line by a good two seconds.
"S'got vegetables in it. Spinach and . . . vegetables in a pastry." This from the lady behind the counter, who wore a maroon apron and had badly dyed red-orange hair. She pronounces every syllable of the word "vegetable".
"What kind of vegetables?" The American lady slurred the word into two syllables. For a moment the class collectively realized how James Joyce might have crafted the word into a sentence.
"Vegetables." The serving woman shrugged. Four syllables.
"It says obbergeen. What's an obbergeen?"
"It's a vegetable."
Somewhere from half-way down the line, a bored voice said "It's French for 'eggplant'."
"Ohhhhh!" Exclaimed the tourist, actually lifting her hands. Everyone expected her to say "Mercy!" but she didn't. This is because she took the time to shout at her husband (half-deaf, and no wonder) the whole story of what was going on. He wanted the soup.
The girl with the bored voice, who hadn't meant it to sound so bored, fumbled with picking up silverware from the stand by the window and then sat down at an empty table against the wall. She took her notebook from her tray and began to write as she ate. Of course it wasn't very graceful as very few people can pull that off without training.
One of her professors sat down next to her a table distant and chuckled. He had ordered the soup and a sandwich. The other professor was having a glass of white wine with her lunch. The first professor was almost completely bald, and the bright florescence of the cafeteria lights did nothing to keep the fact discreet.
"Why do you write so much?" He said through a mouthful of food. He swallowed and then chuckled a laugh that shook his back.
She shrugged, glancing up for a moment. "Why don't you?" He nodded sagely and went back to his soup and sandwich.
She thought about explaining that it was a way to find out what she was thinking without having to creep up on herself through arguments with other people . . . also that she did not particularly relish a friendship with the almost typical group of classmates. She generalized the group to The World in General in order to prove that she must be like somebody else in the world and that she was not being prudish merely because she didn't want to get drunk all the time. Rationalizing, she decided that somebody had to write all the time. She wrote all of this down.