During my review of Joule Coffee, I talked about this look that my friend Nikki has. I’ve come to recognize it, over the past 10+ years as her-

“Really, Missy?” look.

I’ve seen it a few times. There was the time that I dyed my hair black in college, the time I eloped in Vegas, or this time, when I brought her to a renovated garage in Durham for brunch.

When we walked into Parts & Labor (Motorco) on Sunday morning, her hesitation was palpable.

“Oh, we come here all the time,” I said, referring to my co-workers. “We love it. You’ll love it. I need a Bloody Mary.”

We sit at the bar, and Nikki glances over the menu. It’s not your typical Sunday brunch. The menu has one breakfast taco, and an order of chorizo with eggs. Other than that, there’s a lot of small plates inspired by street food – german pretzels, falafel, and sesame udon salad.

I order a samosa, mostly  because I saw that episode of HIMYM where Barney was supposed to get diapers and samosas, and I didn’t know what a samosa was. I also order the latkes and eggs. Nikki gets the breakfast taco and latkes.

Brunch at P&L.

We settle in, we get our food, and Nikki really likes it. Perfect.

Now, there’s a special moment in all of our lives, where we recognize the world and people around us. I like to refer to it as the, “why the fuck are you sitting so close to me?” moment.

For me, that happened when a man in his late twenties, and his wife/girlfriend/sister/mistress/platonicfriendthat’sjustgettingbrunchwithhimdon’treadintoit, sits right besides me at the bar, despite all of the open booths, tables and stools further away.

“EXCUSE ME,” he says to me, “Can we use your menu?”

His wife/girlfriend/sister/mistress/platonicfriendthat’sjustgettingbrunchwithhimdon’treadintoit, gives me a panicked look, as if her life, and the life of all mankind, depends on whether or not she can use our menu, despite my certainty that they *probably* have another one.

“Yeah, sure,” I say, sliding the menu over to them.

I hate that he orders a wheat beer with brunch, and actually asked – “can I have a wheat beer?” instead of specifically requesting a more breakfast appropriate beverage. I get super judgmental about what they order, and I’m relieved when they go away, and I have my personal space back.

Shortly after, another stranger sits besides me. Unlike the other pair, she acquires her own menu, and like me, orders a Bloody Mary. My approval is quickly overcome by jealousy, as the bartender eagerly asks her – “Do you want a pickled string bean in yours?”

“She didn’t ask you that,” my psyche says. “And she gave only gave you one strip of bacon.”

I ignore myself, and channel my energy into bliss about my delicious samosas, which will probably become a diet staple. I ignore the awesome dreads she has that I can never have, her far trendier outfit, and her far superior brunch order, (veggie samosas with the cucumber salad WHY THE HELL DIDN’T I ORDER THOSE THINGS TOGETHER!?).

We finish our food, and get our checks. I ask the bartender for a box for my last lonely samosa, and despite her adoring haze over the awesome chick sitting so close to me, she gives me one.

We depart, and on the way home, I contemplate my complicated feelings towards complete strangers. I decide that maybe, I’ve reached a point in my life where I start to intuitively pick up characteristics about strangers.

Or, I’m just really hungover and need a nap.

I’ll let you decide.