“You know, I just don’t get it. I make a good living; I’m not bad-looking; I’m a really nice guy. Why can’t I get a woman?”
It had been such a long day. All I wanted was a long soak and my pillow. I’d considered pretending I wasn’t there when I heard the insistent knocking on my office door, but I figured since mine was the only car in the parking lot, I’d likely not get away with that. Hesitantly I peeked through the blinds to find a snurfling, teary-eyed Brian — a friend obviously in need that I did not need to see at the moment — peering back through the crack. It seemed the woman he’d decided at first glance he’d spend the rest of his life with had just run screaming through the revolving door of his love life.
“I really need some company — and some dinner. Join me?”
My first reaction was : ‘Seriously? Tonight? Without benefit of preconsumption of massive quantities of alcohol? No.’ But he was obviously in desperate need of a martyr for the evening. As his friend — and one of the few women who would tolerate him with the lights on — apparently, I won the nomination.
“Do you mind if we take your car? I’m too upset to drive.”
“Wow! Do you always play your music so loud; I can hardly hear you? Turn it down a little.”
“And can we turn the heat up a bit? I’m freezing.”
Brian was ready to slip the ring on his online-one-and-only’s finger from their initial Starbucks hey-look-me-over. I suppose a man can become extraordinarily anxious when he’s waited until he was damned near fifty before deciding it was time.
“Let’s go some place nice — I really need to talk. My treat. I’m not in the mood for burgers.”
Oh no. That meant I wouldn’t be escaping nearly as fast as his beloved had. But free dinner was free dinner. The things I do for my friends …
“There’s a 45 minute wait for the main dining room. Let’s sit out on the patio — they have heaters.”
Hmmm … should I order the grilled halibut? Or should I satisfy my inner martyr with the deep-fried salmon and chips?
“You know, it’s freezing out here even with the heaters. Excuse me, could you please find us something inside? It is really windy out here.”
Okay — salmon & chips it is — with another martini, extra tartar sauce, yet another martini and key lime pie. I wondered if the waiter would be so kind as to bring me a rope I could just toss over the rafters …
” I was so good to her. I don’t understand.”
Good Lord. There aren’t enough hours in the evening to explain it to him. Let’s just shove some food in his mouth — quickly.
“Excuse me — how are the sand dabs prepared? Do you think the chef could make them without the breading? I just went gluten-free.”
“The Quinoa Salad sounds good. I love quinoa, but only golden. The red quinoa is a little chewy for my taste. I’m surprised to see its served with feta. I would think goat cheese would make a better pairing. Oh wait a minute! Are those chopped tomatoes I see in it? I’m very allergic to tomatoes. I’ll have that for my side dish, but sub goat cheese for the feta and leave out the tomatoes, please.”
“If she didn’t want me to text her to tell her how much I loved her, all she had to do was say so. She didn’t have to turn off her cell.”
It occurred to me to suggest that a text or two would have been fine, but every hour — frequently, several times an hour? Overkill trumps romance.
“Waiter! Excuse me. You know, there isn’t even one caper in this lemon caper sauce. Can you bring me out some with capers, please.”
“And I really don’t care for this Quinoa Salad. Could you be so kind as to bring me a Caesar instead?”
“Girl, maybe you should slow down on the martinis. You’re driving, you know.”
“Can you believe this? On the patio I was freezing; now I’m burning up. If I was a woman I’d say it was a hot flash (chuckle). But seriously, I wonder if they can turn the heat down.”
“I gave her everything. What more did she want from me?”
Would it have been too cruel to point out that perhaps she wanted less — less Brian?
“I can’t order any dessert; the doctor says I’m pre-diabetic. Wonder if I can get a bowl of berries or something? Never mind. I’ll just have a bite of whatever you get.”
“Oh shit! I can’t find my wallet. Must have left it in my car. Can you get the check? I’ll treat next time.”
It occurred to me that in many respects some men are like Jaguars — the emotional cost of their maintenance far outstrips their value.
And I smiled as I realized how broadly fortune had beamed on Brian’s one that got away.