There's a place we always go. I can never remember its name (Phở Saigon? I had to look that up) and it isn't fancy in the slightest. There are computer-printed signs all over saying, "PAY AT REGISTER" and we always joke at the end of the meal asking, "Where do we pay, again?"
I almost always order the same thing. #22, regular, with small egg noodles. I wipe my chopsticks and soup spoon with a napkin, like my mother taught me. Then I pile in the bean sprouts, adding bits of red pepper sauce in four dabs in the bowl. I give you all of my squid. You get the larger bowl, add more spice, a squeeze of lime, and by mid-meal your face is flushed and rosy.
And then we sit and talk. We used to forget to ask for water with our tea, but not anymore. Once, we stayed so long the waiters thought we couldn't read the signs around the restaurant and brought the bill to us.
This is where we go when we don't know where to go. After afternoons together. Just the two of us.