He stared down at the empty plate in front of him, but was met with such a stronger gaze he had to shield his eyes. The scattering of crumbs across the plate's shiny white surface was not enough to deter the light above him from bouncing off its gleam and smacking him in the face, a dreary reminder of what was once there, but no longer was.
He couldn't move. It wasn't the paralysis that follows a hearty meal, it was worse than that. It was the crushing weight of an existential crisis falling down upon him, drowning him in the antithesis of the pleasure he should be experiencing: the knowledge that that pleasure was over, and would never come again.
Slowly the buzz of the restaurant came leaking back as the initial shock wore off. He was sitting alone, which made the sudden stupor a bit less inexcusable, but still the fact that he was in public, in a place where people gathered to socialize and share good food, made things worse.
But Clyde didn't have anyone to socialize with. All he had was a now-empty plate.
It had started in middle school. Elementary school was easy for him, the years when everyone was automatically friends with everyone else. He may not have had many super close friends - except for Token and Craig, of course - but everyone was nice to him. He even wrangled up a few girlfriends (if you could really call them girlfriends at that age) with the promise of free shoes from his father's store. But those years couldn't last forever, and his lack of any sort of strong personality, something he himself laughed at when they were younger, made everyone quickly drift away. Even Craig, preferred the company of that weird neurotic kid, Tweek, than his once-best friend. All Clyde had left now was Token.
And, of course, tacos.
It started off as his favorite food, then an art form, but now tacos were a way of life to him. When his unwanted isolation got him too depressed, he liked to pretend he lived inside of a taco: protected inside a warm, tortilla womb but still with an open sky above him. He found solace in their familiarity - that combination of meat, vegetables, and dairy that would never let him down - and also took pleasure in the creativity it allowed. The choice of vegetables. Sauces. Types of wrap. Temperature. No two tacos were ever the same, just as no two people were ever the same; but tacos couldn't abandon him, as people did.
Except for this taco.
He had eaten many tacos in his life. Some of them were fantastic tacos. Some mediocre, some a disgrace to the name 'taco,' but most were enjoyable. This, however, was the perfect taco. The ingredients were beautifully mixed, so each bite had a bite of each flavor, the tortilla was crunchy but didn't fall apart in his hands, and... the list went on forever. He couldn't put into words the ecstasy that was the taco he just finished.
He could put into words, however, the crushing realization that no taco would ever live up to this one. A single meal had provided simultaneously the best and worst taco-related experience he will ever have. Every other taco he ate would only remind him of what it was lacking, and even if he came back to the same restaurant to eat their taco, nothing is ever as good as it is the first time.
His paralysis solidified further, and as the unchecked time went by, and the waiters loitered by his table, impatiently waiting for him to pay his check, Clyde's stomach began to grumble with oncoming nausea. His lack of personality, his lack of friends, his lack of anything really desireable in a person, he had replaced with his love of tacos. And now that was gone, and he had nothing.
Wait, no. He did have something. Someone. A single person, who even despite Clyde's blandness stuck by him through the years. Someone who, being a remarkably sane and logical boy for the reckless age they were at, might be able to help.
Cautiously, Clyde slid himself out of his chair, and left to call Token.