In stories, there are forgettable climaxes, and there are memorable non-climaxes. These latter are transitions you can pinpoint to an exact shift in eye contact or a pause in speech. Los Angeles seems to pronounce memorable moments especially well.
Anne gets menudo at the local Mexican joint on the East Side. Waiting for her order to come out of the kitchen, she notices a lot of Mexican families. It's Sunday. I love the sound of this English. I can't place it, but Baby Boomer Latinos speaking English is soooo lovely. There's a gentlemanly timbre to even their small talk.
I hear it. A woman announces in spanish that my order's ready. She starts asking if I want tortillas with my order, still in Spanish because her head's buried in the plastic bag she's filling with my food.
She sees me. THAT precise moment of "oh, she's not Mexican" was followed with the LOL-equivalent of a facial expression -- she's thinking about how silly that was, but wearing the laughter in a smile on her face. And then THAT precise moment was in turn followed by an "oh right, Asians like tripe too" look.
Anne plays chatroulette with a group of filmmakers in Los Feliz. We keep "next"ing bald dicks and racist pricks. The nicest people (read: the only ones who'd talk to us for any length of time) were Asian or Middle Eastern. As most of the group of filmmakers are white, I sense some awful race-accident about to happen. And then it does. We meet someone from Saudi Arabia and one of us unconsciously blurts out:
Except...we're typing all our conversations with these newfound chatmates, and our "Al Qaeda!" typer can't seem to spell it right. So while the first iteration of the name was offensive, the next ten were farcical attempts to render it correct. Even I laughed at some of the spellings. The cringe-worthy moment lasted all of a split-second. As if a ball tossed in the air to remain static for just that apex. Laughter and illiteracy took over the rest.
Anne has dinner with her family to celebrate sister's birthday. We talking about the one person who's not at our table: pater familias. Sister's husband who's recently returned from his own marital sabbatical having ultimately reconciled with what for a moment looked like an "irreconcilable difference" with my sister, tries to give an informed opinion about said father. Judges him for his neglect, commends him for his humility. Sister mentions dad was the first person to make well wishes for her birthday. She shows us his text message, time-stamped at 6 in the morning. There's an "awww" somewhere inside each of us but it won't come out.
My brother-in-law then says with childish envy, "great. I should have woken you up at 5:59am to beat him at wishing you happy birthday then."
My sister and I make nanosecond eye contact. That eye contact acknowledges the fact that her husband's statement was pregnant with irony. Then we looked away.