“Is anyone sitting here?” she asks.
“I’m waiting for a couple friends of mine, but they may be late.”
“Oh I can find another seat” she replies as she glances around the bar, which was standing room only by now.
“No, sit down. They might be a while. Besides, one of them is going to have to stand anyway, so they might as well both. No sense in watching them duke it out”, I joke.
She sits down and asks for a menu. “Hi, I’m Debbie” she says, hand extended. “I hope you don’t mind, but I’m kind of chatty. It’s better to sit at the bar to eat when you’re alone and traveling than at a table by yourself.”
“Nice to meet you, I’m Mark.” I notice her olive-colored eyes and seemingly perfect teeth as she smiles and orders herself a drink and some dinner. She’s not the first tonight to ask if the seat next to me is free, nor the youngest (in fact, I think she’s nearing cougar territory). But the cheerful, friendly greeting, combined with the draught I’ve nearly finished, is just enough to get my introverted self past the uncomfortable stage of introduction.
“What do you do? Do you work downtown? Do you have any kids?” she rattles off before I have time to respond.
“I’m a tech manager – not really exciting. Yes, I work a few blocks away. I’ve got three”, I reply.
“Me too” she says. “I’m not married anymore though.”
I feel a light tap on my shoulder. When I turn around it’s my friend, Dave. I say hi and Debbie introduces herself. Dave orders a beer, and sits down at the other side of me. He and I get caught up over the next half hour, with Debbie interrupting every few minutes with a side note about what’s on the TV or the girl sitting next to her as she pecks at her food.
“How would you feel if your wife were sitting alone in a bar like I am while you were at home?” she asks.
“Probably bothered”, I reply.
“So how would she feel then?”
“She’s more understanding than me, I think. She might even be for it, if the situation was just right”, I say. For a moment, I wonder how true that is.
Debbie gets a slight grin and touches my elbow when my other friend arrives. She introduces herself, and asks him if he’s married.
“He is”, I say, “but Dave here is single.” I’m not much of a wingman, but I do my best. Dave smirks.
“How about we get a table and some food?” I ask my friends. Before we finish grabbing our coats, Debbie shakes hands to say goodbye, leans in to say something into Dave’s ear, and lands a long kiss on his lips. Dave is surprised, but doesn’t pull away. I honestly can’t blame him, though I am a bit envious.
“See you later,” she says.
As we walk away Dave says, “I have to remember to come back here.”