Ranch on the Side

By Jon Epstein

I was outside talking with some buddies during the coffee break at my Sunday night, Ohio Street, AA meeting when this chick Kelly, who’d I’d been dating for about a month, comes up and pulls me away for a second and asks me if we could have coffee after the meeting.

Sure, I said, trying to act cool, like whatever, like I’m just so hip and couldn’t care less, when really, what was inside of me was this scared little boy.

The break ended, and I was sitting there in my head not hearing a word, thinking, I don’t need her. I was in my head thinking, man, my life is just coming together, I got my little 65 Bug, my little Venice bachelor pad, I’m making a little money, I don’t need her. I was in my head with just a little over a year sobriety, thinking, coffee after the meeting, you gotta be fucking kidding me, I don’t need her.

We walked into Bob’s Jr. on Pico just like a regular couple and the hostess seated us face to face.

Kelly just came right out with it and said “I’m pregnant, and I’m having the baby.”

We were surrounded by Naugahyde and the table top had that mealy, don’t put your bare skin down feeling; sticky coffee shop film no industrial cleaner could ever remove. All I could think was stop the presses, everyone’s going to know this is my kid. If I don’t step up and do the right thing, I’ll look like a real schmo.

I batted several eyelashes and crunched the what-am-I-going-to-look-like numbers. All that was between us was a salt shaker, some Heinz 57, and a little tray of Smuckers individually packaged jellies.

The words just jumped out of my mouth: “Okay, let’s get married, do you have insurance, are you still going work?”

Across the table, Kell was looking at me with these incredible blue eyes and an ear-to-ear grin, but not like a chick flick, dreamy, I love you, we’re going to live happily ever after expression, but more like, a lioness mother in survival mode.

A waitress sauntered over, and asked “Whataya having, hon?”

Kelly answered “I’ll have a cheeseburger with Swiss, ranch on the side, crispy fries, Diet Coke, and a chocolate shake.”

I looked up and said “She’s ordering for two.”



Originally from Hollywood, Jon Epstein now resides in the West Fernando Valley with his wife of twenty-four years. He considers himself an emerging writer and fine artist—one who is inspired by the daily trials and joys of simple life—not to mention: an entrepreneur, musician, surfer, and chef.

He is a contributor to The Judean and a member of The Los Angeles Poets and Writers Collective. His poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Pierce’s College Voices Collective (2007), Out On The Stoop, Poetic Diversity, and Poetry Superhighway.


2 Responses to “Ranch on the Side”

  1. souperflute says:

    not bad for a buddy dofu…. very nicely done… and the rest is history… love you man.

  2. Julie says:

    Such a saweeet love story. I love the “batting several eyelashes…”