At the table next to mine, there is a guy explaining something to his companion. She’s not buyin’. She has rocked back in her chair, her arms folded beneath her breasts, her long hair flowing and framing her pretty face. Her skeptical face. She’s nodding in apparent agreement, but the only one who believes that is the sap digging his way deeper and deeper. The dude’s a steam shovel.
I don’t know what they’re talking about and it doesn’t matter. She’s pissed off. He knows it and is trying to fix things. Not a syllable comes out of his mouth that doesn’t make things worse. She’s beyond pissed off, but she sits there, nodding. “Yes, yes, I see,” she is saying. “Just how big a jerkwad are you?” It’s a rhetorical question; at this point she is interested in him only for the stories he’s providing. She’ll have some good times sharing his excuses with her girlfriends.
So she sits, listening intently only for the ammunition, while he does a spectacular job making a jackass of himself. I know what I’m talking about. Jackass is my middle name.
They just left, she steaming ahead while he trailed uncertainly behind. “I can do better,” her posture said, and she was right.
Up until that moment I was in her camp. The dude was a schmoe. A spineless kiss-up buttercup. [Remind me to copyright that phrase.] But she knew she could find another boyfriend. I prefer people who aren’t so certain certain about things. My kind of folks are the ones crashing over the waterfall with no boat and certainly no life vest, the ones who wake up each morning with an intoxicating combination of anticipation and dread. Parents, I think, must feel this way. Artists do as well, I imagine. There are forces beyond your ken, beyond your control, that will, when you least expect it, sweep you over Niagra.
She cared not for the life flowing around her. The world is hers to control, and she will control it. When I saw that I didn’t like her any more, no matter how worthless her current companion is.
Maybe it’s not fair to expect someone to show their doubt and dread in a mall bar. Maybe she wakes up every morning and wants to roll over and sleep but there’s just so much. Maybe she has a fire that burns so hot it frightens her. I don’t think so, though. She walked out cold.