Last Meal by Wayne Scheer

She's going to break up with me tonight, I can feel it. That's why she wants to meet here at Linda's Cantina where we had our first date. We haven't gone back since I discovered she doesn't like Mexican food. At least I'll have a good meal when she tells me it's over. Kind of like feeding a condemned man his favorite food before frying him.

In her own way, Katie is being considerate. She knows how much I've missed the tilapia tacos they serve here. And we'll both be able to drive away in our own vehicle. A clean break. As if a break-up is ever clean.

I've been through this before. I always end up acting cold and distant, saying little more than, "If that's what you want, fine by me." I hate the way I feel inside when that happens, but what else can I do? Beg her to stay? Tell her I love her? That won't help me or her. Should I say something like, "At least we had six good months. I'm a better man for that." I probably couldn't get words like that out without rolling my eyes. I could try something macho, like "It was good while it lasted, baby." Or I could go for debonair. Kiss her hand and whisper, "Au revoir."

Yeah, right. I'd follow that by tripping over my two left feet.

The problem is I don't want to lose Katie. She's smart, funny and way more than I could hope for. When you look up the word dweeb in the dictionary you find a picture of me, but for half a year, she's seemed not to mind that I can't dance and find Will Ferrell funny.

I don't mind sitting in my office all day crunching numbers, if I know I'm meeting her for drinks and dinner afterwards, followed by a quiet night of TV and lovemaking.

A month ago, I suggested she move in with me when the lease was up at her place. Instead, she renewed it for another year. So I've been prepared for this.

Our differences became obvious when she dragged me to a Yo Yo Ma concert and I fell asleep. I tried staying awake, but cello music doesn't exactly get my toes a' tapping. I assured her I wasn't asleep, just closing my eyes to appreciate the music. Man, did she ever give me a poke when I started snoring.

There she is, looking as wonderful as ever, with her dark hair and long legs. I walk towards her. She takes my hands and pecks me on the cheek. As soon as we're shown to a table, even before the waiter takes our drinks order, she says, "Ron, we have to talk."

Instead of the beer that goes so well with the tacos, I order scotch. A double. Neat.

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