“Yes.” June nodded. “My parents own it and run it. I help out.”
“So are you sick of eating lobster?” Mick asked.
June shook her head. “Not at all. I’m sick of lobster rolls. If I never see another lobster roll it will be too soon. But we almost never have a full lobster. And we certainly don’t have steak or anything like that. It’s all burgers and fries and clams and stuff. Everything’s fried. My father has not met a single thing he can’t fry.”
Mick laughed. And June hadn’t been expecting it. She looked up at him and smiled.
“When they retire, I’m supposed to take over.” Her parents had recently expressed a very unappealing idea to June: that she should marry a man who wanted to be in the restaurant business with them.
“And I take it you’re not excited about that?” Mick asked.
June shook her head. “Would you be?” Maybe he would be. Maybe marrying a man who wanted to take over the restaurant wouldn’t be so bad.
Mick looked June in the eye and held her gaze for a moment. “No,” he said. “I would not be excited about that.”
June looked down at her water and took a sip. “No, I suspected not.”
“I’ve got my eyes on a bigger prize is all,” Mick said.
June looked up. “Oh?”
Mick smiled and put down his menu. He repositioned himself, leaning forward, sharing with June a secret, a sales pitch, a magic spell. “I’m a singer,” he said.
“A singer?” June asked, her voice rising. “What kind of singer?”
“A great one.”
June laughed. “Well, then, I’d like to hear you sing sometime,” she said.
“I’ve been making my way in Hollywood a little bit, doing a couple of clubs on the circuit, meeting the right people. I don’t make much yet. I mean, I barely make anything, honestly. I paint houses during the days to pay the bills. But I’m getting somewhere. My buddy Frankie knows an A & R guy over at Runner Records. I figure I wow him, I might just get my first record deal.”
The words Hollywood and circuit and record deal made June’s pulse speed up. She smiled, not taking her eyes off him.
The waiter came and asked for their orders but before June could speak, Mick took over. “We will both have the surf and turf.”
June stifled her surprise as she folded her menu. She handed it back to the waiter.
“So am I going to be able to say I knew you when?” she asked.
Mick laughed. “Do you think I can do it?” he asked. “Do you think I can get a record deal? Hobnob around with all the stars? Tour the country selling out venues? Make the papers?”
“You’re asking me?” June said, smoothing out the napkin on her lap. “I’m not in the business. Nobody cares what I think.”
“I do,” Mick said. “I care what you think.”
June looked at him, saw the sincerity plastered across his face. “Yes,” she said, nodding. “Yes, I do think you can do it.”
Mick smiled and drank the ice out of the bottom of his glass.
“Who knows?” he said. “Maybe a year from now I’ll be an international sensation and you’ll be the girl on my arm.”
This, June knew, was a line. But she had to admit, it was working.
Later, as the waves rolled in just beyond their window, Mick asked June a question no one had asked her before. “I know you don’t want to take over the restaurant, but what do you want?”
“What do you mean?” June said.
“I mean, if you close your eyes …” he said.
June closed them, slowly but at once, happy to do as she was told.
“And you imagine yourself happy, in the future, what do you see?”
Maybe a little glamour, a little travel, June thought. She wanted to be the sort of woman who, when someone complimented her fur coat, could say, “Oh, this? I got it in Monte Carlo.” But that was all wild stuff. Fit for a daydream. She had a real answer, too. One she saw in vivid color. One that was almost real enough to touch.
She opened her eyes. “A family,” she said. “Two kids. A boy and a girl. A good husband, who likes to dance with me in the living room and remembers our anniversary. And we never fight. And we have a nice house. Not in the hills or in the city but on the water. Directly on the beach. With two sinks in the bathroom.”
Mick smiled at her.
He wanted a career touring all over the world—but he’d also always imagined having a family waiting for him when he got home. He wanted a wife and kids, the kind of house where there was space to breathe and peacefulness even when it wasn’t quiet. He wasn’t sure if he could ever have that sort of life. He wasn’t sure what it looked like or how one went about making it. But he wanted it. He wanted it just like she did. “Two sinks, huh?” he said.
June nodded. “I always liked the idea. My friend’s parents had two sinks in their home over by Trancas Canyon. They had a ranch behind the marketplace there,” she said. “We used to play dress-up in her parents’ room. I noticed they had two sinks in their master bathroom. And I just thought, I want that when I’m an adult. So my husband and I can brush our teeth at the same time.”
“I love that,” Mick said, nodding. “I’m not from a two-sink world either. Where I’m from, we couldn’t even afford lobster rolls.”
“Oh, I don’t care about that,” June said. She wasn’t sure if it was true or not, in general. But she felt it when she said it.
“I’m just saying … I don’t come from any money at all. But I don’t think what you’re born into says anything about where you’re headed.”
Mick had grown up in a glorified tenement, sharing a bathroom with other families. But he’d decided a long time ago that there would be no more squalor in his future. He would have everything and it was how he would know he’d outrun it all.
“I’ll be rich one day, don’t worry,” he said. “I’m just advising you that I’m a penny stock.”
June smiled. “My parents’ restaurant is on the verge of bankruptcy every two years,” she said. “I’m in no position to judge.”
“You know if we ever make our way into the two-sinks world, those two-sinks people are gonna call us New Money.”
June laughed. “I don’t know. They might be too busy tripping over themselves for your autograph.”
Mick laughed, too. “Cheers to that,” he said. And June lifted her drink.
For dessert, Mick handed the decision to June. And so she nervously perused the menu, trying to pick the perfect thing, as the waiter looked on. “I’m on the spot!” she said. “Bananas Foster or baked Alaska?”
Mick gestured back to her. “It’s your choice.”
She hesitated a second longer and he leaned over and stage-whispered to her. “But get the bananas Foster.”
June looked up. “The bananas Foster, please,” she said to the waiter.
When it showed up, the two of them tangled their forks over the same plate.
“Watch it, mister,” June said with a smile on her lips. “You’re hogging the whipped cream.”