Dear Juanita or Benita or Alfreda or whatever ethnic name your parents bestowed upon your poor soul,

At first I thought we would be perfect together- myself a rustic and handsome junior in college starving for both knowledge and mediocre cafeteria food- you an overweight and bowlegged Hispanic woman in her early fifties; one who's sweat dripped off the fuzz on her upper lip and onto the steaming grill beneath her. I smiled at you and you smiled back- both us lost in lunchtime euphoria. Unfortunately though, those brief moments of happiness are the only ones we shared- for form that moment things went south- as if retreating to your home land.

I walked over and looked at the food you had prepared- some sort of Salisbury steak imitation that closer resembled meat loaf then the finer entrée its name implied. Next to the brown mound was a bucket of sautéed mushrooms floating in unknown gravy. I said, quite politely, "I'd love some of that Salisbury steak- but the mushrooms won't sit well with me- if you could restrain from adding it to my victual I'd be endlessly appreciative" but instead of taking my request seriously you instead looked at me with the eyes of a dead pig.

"Steaky?" you said pointing the serving fork to the pile of cow beneath you fully knowing that every possible physical cue was needed to accompany your pathetic attempt at English.

I let out a heavy breathe and thought about restating my position, but alas, I realized it would be hopeless. You obviously lacked the infantile brain capacity needed to understand my plea- alas, I would have to take myself down to your remedial level in order to communicate.

"no… mushroom…" I said as slow and broken as I could pressing my outstretched finger against the sneeze guard that separated me from the vile concoction. "steak yes- mushroom no" I said again in vain- but you did not listen. Instead you smiled and said "yes- steaky and mushroomy" and began to dip the ladle into the gravy.

"NO YOU DON'T UNDERSTAND" I yelled, slightly alarmed and beginning to draw attention to myself. I lowered my voice, "I don't want mushrooms- I just want the meat" but still, the lifeless gaze you seemed to perform so well maintained. "Is there anyone else I can talk to" I said, just loud enough where someone in the near vicinity could here but it didn't look like I was looking for help.

No one answered; totally alone- I would have to rely on my cunning and wit to get out of this situation.

I buried my head into my hand for several seconds to devise a plan and then looked up at you- you looked worried and I felt as if I finally had the advantage. I looked at you and tried to see what made you tick- what I could exploit to get what I wanted- but your poker face held strong- I have to say part of me admired you. You chewed on your lips and I saw the dead skin slowly be peeled away with your teeth- how could lips be so dry? And then it dawned upon me- they were dry was because they hadn't been kissed in so long. The gears in my head began to turn and I immediately understood what I had to do.

I leaned in close, so close the steam from below rose up and fogged my glasses, and whispered "you know, there's a way we can both win… How about you just give me the meat" I said smiling out of the corner of my mouth "…and then I give you the meat". I finished it off with a sly wink- positive my generous advance would be well received.

I awaited your answer with eyes affixed on the mole just above your left eyebrow and the hairs that flirtatiously sprung out. But you remained silent. This had to work- no woman had ever resisted me before- how could you? In your years there must have been something you learned- a trick that allowed you to bypass whatever carnal instincts remained in your cocoon of a body and proceed with what was an obvious rejection of my proposition. With the speed of a jungle cat you delivered me a metaphorical slap in the face and plopped the meat onto my plate, covering it in the fungal ooze I so despised. It was done so quickly that there was nothing I could do to stop you. You held out the plate to me, not even giving me the courtesy of explaining how you could abstain from my proposition. I took the plate and walked away, utterly defeated and preparing myself for the strenuous task of picking off ever single mushroom, not sure if I could survive the trials and tribulations ahead of me.

I write this as I sit alone in the corner of the cafeteria, plotting my revenge and scraping off the sauce from my so called "steak". I warn you: the battle may have been over- but the war had not yet begun.

Watch your back, bitch.

Walter Blake