Bob, an evenly average, boring, cold man with less-than-average social skills, brought his girlfriend, Linda, into the restaurant to celebrate their one-year anniversary (dating, not marriage). He warned me of this by arriving one hour before their reservation and asking me to "set aside and then decorate" a booth that I was to hold for him.
"The Hell I will," I said, until Bob unexpectedly slipped me $20. It might be a small amount to you but it's the difference between buying vodka or putting gas in the car vs. buying vodka and putting gas in the car).
I did my lackadaisical best with the streamer and lone yellow balloon he gave me.
Linda arrived, unequipped for such an outlandish gesture in such a brothel-like bar, and smiled politely while offering faint praise. Despite her best efforts, she couldn't give a convincing performance of happy. He could tell something was up.
"Nothing!" she smiled when he asked, almost hysterical. "Let's drink!!" Her smile terrified me. She was not into him. She honed in on me like her escape plan from this night of charades.
He ordered a pitcher of our finest margaritas and some "guaco dip," for class and style.
They sipped awkwardly on their drinks. I wasn't there for, nor able to stand close enough to eavesdrop upon, much of the ensuing conversation. But it all seemed like very minimal interaction save the desperate "THANK YOU"s to me for my chip and water refills.
It became so awkwardly obvious to me that she wanted nothing to do with him, yet he clung on as if she were his plan b life raft. I kept wondering if tonight would be her night to tell him it was over, but she kept going through the motions, and the tequila, which led to a slightly more convincing evince of warmth, manufactured as it still seemed.
Soon they were both sloppy drunk, and I saw this was just a normal episode among their pattern.
Eventually they paid, tipped just fine, and left. Together. And she was as unconvincing physically as she was emotionally when he not so subtly suggested to me that they'd be "in beeeeeeeeed" soon. Gross, oh my God. She walked out like a nun in winter whereas he had his boner leading the way to their Uber.
I consumed the generous remnants of their most recently ordered pitcher, cleared off the table, and popped that stupid yellow balloon.