Ottimista e Pessimista

Our team lead, Roberta, sits as she pulls blonde bangs behind one ear. “Like, that was intense, dontcha think?”

“Yeah.” Claire nods, brushing a crumb from the tabletop. “Guess they missed a spot.”

“Oh man, that was so intense!” Bruce agrees, picking up his menu.

“It was the Hunger Games after all. Haven’t you guys read the book?” I say.

Roberta looks at me, blue eyes slowly blinking. “I don’t have time to read. The kids, you know.”

“Yeah,” Bruce smiles. “I only read books to the kids or technical manuals.”

“I just read stuff on the web,” Claire says. “No fiction.”

I know there’s no point in taking this line of conversation any further so I study the menu, and try not to engage in a debate when Roberta says how much she liked the costumes of the people in The Capitol. “That lady’s pink hair was cool. But their makeup was a bit extreme.”

Our waiter comes and we order. Everyone orders wine except me. “I can’t drink wine in the afternoon, it makes me sleepy and stupid,” I explain.

“I don’t have to drink wine to be sleepy and stupid!” Bruce laughs.

“Well, the company’s paying, so if you want to change your mind, like it’s okay,” Roberta says. It was her idea to take an afternoon for a “team building event” since Claire would be leaving the team in two weeks for another position. We’d gone to see a matinee showing of the Hunger Games, and decided to eat an early dinner afterwards.

The waiter brings the wine and our salads. The wine glasses each bear the words: “Ottimista” on one side, and “Pessimista” on the other. “I love these glasses,” Roberta says, holding hers up for a toast. “I just want to say, like, we’re, well, I’m really going to miss you, Claire.” Roberta’s voice trembles.

“Me too!” Bruce quips.

I nod. “You’re a great pm. You’ll be fabulous in this new role.”

“Thanks you guys.” Claire waves a hand in front of her face. Her eyes are tearing. “Oh, I need to drink before I start crying.”

“Cheers!” We clink our glasses.

The food comes and the conversation dies down to Roberta and Bruce talking about their kids.

They order another round of wine, and I order coffee, and try not to be too obvious in looking at my watch. They’ve been at this for a while, and since we carpooled, I have to leave with them.

“So like,” Roberta says, holding up her wine glass and twirling it from side to side. “Which do you guys consider yourself?”

“Oh, optimist for sure,” Bruce laughs.

“Me too!” Roberta gushes.

“You have to be with kids, right, or you’d go loco!” Bruce says.

“Oh, that’s so funny and so true!” Roberta agrees. “What about you, Claire?”

“Optimist.” Claire smiles a Mona Lisa smile.

“I knew it!” Roberta leans her shoulder against Claire’s and looks at me. “Which do you think of yourself as?”

All eyes are on me as say softly, “Depends on the situation.”

“Oh, like, I think that’s a pessimistic answer. Because, like, deep down dontcha think that just means you don’t think things will work out?” Roberta says.

“Sounds like it to me,” Bruce says.

Claire shrugs.

“Anyway, are we ready to go?” Roberta is wiping out her glass with a napkin and tucking it in her purse.

“You’re not taking that are you?” I say.

“I’m collecting a set,” she says through a tight smile. “For the team.”

“Oh,” I say, thinking how special it’ll be to be gifted with stolen property.

“Cool!” Bruce blurts, following our lead’s example. He makes a show of looking around for the wait staff before hiding the glass in his jacket pocket.

Claire laughs softly and hides hers in her purse.

Roberta pays the bill with the company credit card and we leave. On the drive back to the office, I remain silent—the thing to do for a pessimist among optimists.

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