Needy, loud, attention-starved people terrify me. If they sense for one second that your sole focus is not on them and their current, fleeting state of joy or misery, they'll call you on it.
"Oh, do you have some other table that needs something right away? You seem disinterested now."
"Oh, are you all on a wait? Is there a reason you brought the bill? I'd love some more ice water."
"Oh, that actually wasn't even the main part of my story, I haven't even told you what it was like the second time we broke up, but, yeah....uhm. fine, go take your break I guess. Can I join you?"
Well. Imagine a needy couple, together, on a date. Late 30s, awkward, loud, inappropriate. That sounds fun, right?
It wasn't so much needy like "validate poor me while I complain," but more like "validate me, tell me how funny I am, pay attention only to me, I must believe that everyone loves me as much as I wish I loved myself or I will steer this plane into a mountain!"
I asked if they'd like anything to drink. Going in a different direction with the conversation, the stud - Jeremy - set the night off with some interesting, appropriate dinner talk.
"I don't know which restaurant it was," he said with a proud grin, "but they had this salsa that turned my stomach inside out. I thought it was going to be that scene from The Alien where an alien pops out of Sigourney Weaver's stomach!"
His date, Bethany, was ON! She was LOUD and IN-YOUR-FACE. She wore COOL GLASSES and DIRTY VINTAGE T-SHIRTS and had a few CHEAP TATTOOS. She probably CUTS HAIR. She did not miss a beat to heighten the JOKE.
"BWHAHAHAHA!!! What if that salsa, like, brought about the end of the universe because this colony of aliens came out of your stomach and obliterated everything? Oh, my gosh, you and I are so crazy, everyone must think we're in-saaaaannne...!!!!!"
They both laughed and looked around as if everyone in the restaurant had heard and applauded. As they wiped tears from their eyes, they looked at me, their audience for the night.
"Well you can take that stick out of your ass," Jeremy smiled, noting my tight-lipped expression of resistance. "I'm just kidding, we can be a lot. You'll learn all about us, we always become best friends with our server. But yeah, drinks."
They ordered a pitcher and some "house guacamole" (as opposed to the more expensive version, made with top shelf tequila). As they drank more, their exchanges with me became more and more prolonged, filled with aimless stories meant to endear them to me. They could tell I wasn't having it, and with each pitcher came another attempt to win me over.
(Or at least that's how it came across, because we all think everything is about us, but seriously, they wanted me to like them, I am not just saying that because of ego, promise, kisses.)
Jeremy went to the pisser. I came by to clear glasses.
"How long have you worked here?" Bethany asked me in a fake-drunk voice, which lets people know that she's fun to be around.
"Yeeeeears," I replied.
"Oh really? You seem new. Are you happy here?" she asked with a premature frown.
"Sure," I said, not trying to encourage follow-up.
"Interesting............." she said with a squinted stare, having arrived at some conclusion about me. I said nothing and continued clearing.
"I just...I can pretty much read, like...everyone?" she said, "but you're hard to read. That's interesting. But seriously, people tell me, 'Bethany, whoa, you totally knew what was going on without knowing what was going on.' Does that makes sense?"
"Yeah I think I get what you're saying," I said. "I need to do some side work in the back, I'll be out of pocket for about 10 minutes. May I bring you anything to tide you over?"
"Nope," Bethany said.
Ten minutes and two gin and tonics later, I was mentally lubricated enough to again deal with Jeremy, Bethany, their idiotic blather, and their pleas for validation.
But alas, no such fortitude was needed. Upon my return, they'd made their way to the bar and were now set up with the pitcher I'd just delivered. Jeremy waived me over.
"Don't hate us...," he said his hand oddly in the air for a high five (?), "but we want to watch the game."
"YOU WERE GREAT," Bethany said, convinced I'd be inconsolible.
I smiled and walked off. They transferred their entire bill to the bar. They didn't think to tip me for my time or pay their portion of the bill with me.
For two people who claimed I'd become best friends with them, they sure can go fuck themselves.