>Night-Off Eavesdropping


How you know you’re sitting next to a First Date at the bar:

She tells him, “I really only drink maybe 2, 3 glasses when I’m out with friends and even that’s not very often. I’m a believer in moderation. After this, I’m going to work out, from about 9-10.”

“After your mother’s? Wow, that’s commitment.”

I’m not afraid of commitment.”

A stiff pause. She’s got it in for him. He’s the next one, after all.

Later, he is telling her, “Life insurance is an investment, really,” and I feel like I have his whole story down. I mean, don’t you?

They ask for the check and the woman leans across him to ask me if I enjoyed my soup.

“Oh yes,” I say, “It was watercress and andouille sausage. Awesome.”

“You look like you were enjoying it. I love soup.”

I wonder what looking like I was “enjoying it” looked like to her, and why it warranted a conversation. I dab at my mouth with the side of my hand, just to be safe.

I tell her I think I recognize her.

I ask if she used to frequent the last restaurant I worked at, a popular upmarket Japanese place. Her long, middle-aged face is so familiar, despite the heavy black eyeliner disguise she dons tonight. I know her horsey nose, her lantern jaw.

“I live in the neighborhood,” she answers. “Did you ride your bike?” I nod, wondering if she saw me pull up, what made her need to make a point of talking to me with her date watching. In the world of women, this is a disarmament. A polite stare-down of sorts.

She introduces herself and her date. Joy and Chris.

“I own a company, I go to people’s houses and organize.”

I give it a beat. “Well, God bless you!” I say, more to Chris than to her. They both laugh, but she not as much.

I do not see a second date. Maybe, but not a third.

Then the coworkers come. They line up at the bar and I figure that the girl at the end is British because the alpha male on the end closest to me keeps shouting “Oi! Oi!” to her when she isn’t paying attention. One of the girls asks pointedly how his love life is. “Kevin, how’s your love life?” They’ve had too much to drink. This will either bond them or make things weird at work on Monday.

“I’m an Aquarian,” he says. “Impossible to date.”

The girl next to the Brit squeals. “I’m a Leo! We’re supposed to be perfect together!”

Kevin begins to talk about being attracted to girls who are projects and the girls holler at once. “I know about projects!” All women think they know about projects. This implies all men are projects. The truth is, all of us are projects. Some projects build our muscles and some tear them down. You have to know who you are to know which project to pick. I almost offer this p.o.v. but there’s too much estrogen in the group as it is. We’ll give Kevin a break.

The Brit asserts she has found the man she is going to marry and Kevin waves his hands about, “Hello….! What? That’s awe-rsome….I had no idea.” He is too eager to hear about it. He is disappointed the Brit is in love, you can tell. “Tell me about this guy!”

He wants to hear the guy is just like him. Or worse than him. That way, he has a shot. Not just at her, but someone like her. He needs to know that someone like him would have a shot at someone like her.

She has circumvented the rest of the girls to talk to him beside his chair, standing up. A girl will do this to talk about the man she loves. Kevin will not do this – will not abandon his comfortable seat to ask her more closely. Instead he stays seated, not waiting for her, not expecting her to come over and tell him, not even thinking about it, his question beyond answer, his look faraway even as she speaks right into his face about love.


About emc

Out beyond any ideas of right-doing and wrongdoing, there is a field. I'll meet you in it.
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