Sometimes it is just nice to be alone to gather my thoughts and enjoy my own company. That was the case this morning. I decided to go out to breakfast with nothing but my notepad and some ideas I was hoping to work on.
I was seated in a double row of booths and ordered some coffee. The booth across the aisle from mine was unoccupied and, since the restaurant was not very busy, I was hoping it would stay that way.
After ordering my breakfast, I opened my notebook, took a sip of coffee, and began work on a first draft of a poem I started a few days earlier.
In minutes the booth across the aisle had guests. An attractive young couple who, it turned out was not a couple. A few seconds later, my peace was shattered by the female component of the non couple loudly recounting her side of what became clear was a messy divorce. The man sitting across from her was her ex-husband’s friend. And she thought he needed to know the truth.
I’m not sure that is what he thought, but the fool had, after all, agreed to meet his friend’s ex-wife on, of all days, my solitary breakfast day, which gained him no sympathy points from me.
As is usually the case when I eavesdrop, I was not trying to listen, but the woman was not using her polite restaurant voice and seemed to want me to hear her story. She seemed to want the entire restaurant to hear her story. Because the truth needed to be told. This was her mantra for the next thirty minutes or so. My waiter might as well have said: “You do want a side of drama with your bacon and eggs, right?”
Ex-Wife: “I mean, like, I tried? I did all I could but it just wasn’t enough, you know? Like, he was never on the same page. And he said he had a difficult time having a conversation at all with me?
Ex’s Friend: “I just have never known him to be. . . .”
EW: “Exactly! Right? You probably see the same things I do. I mean, you’ve spent enough time around him to see his true colors?”
Legal Eavesdropper: (I should tell you that there are conversational habits that make me want to shove my hand down my throat and rip out my tonsils, sans anesthetic. Ending a declaratory sentence with a question mark is one of them. Sentences peppered with the word “like” used as anything but the way it is defined is another. And the phrase “you know?” used over and over again instead of telling the listener exactly what you mean definitely ranks right up there with the other two. This person broke all of those rules over and over again.)
EF: “Well, my relationship with him is different, so. . . ”
EW: “Well, of course it is. But I’m sure you can’t help but see how self-centered, egotistical, and rude he can be?”
EF: “Not really.”
EW: “I mean I really like to go out dancing? But do you think he would, like, agree to even do that once in a while? ”
EF:” I can understand that. Dancing is not my idea. . . .”
EW: “Right! See? You get it! Why couldn’t he?”
EF: “Well, I do but I was going to say that dancing is not my idea of a good time, either. So I kind of see why he did not want to do that.”
EW: “Okay. But it’s not about the dancing? You know? It’s about doing what I want sometimes. I mean, you know, like I was willing to go along with what he wanted to do. Except I do not like sports.”
LE: (Finally! Proper use of the word “like.)
EW: “I wanted to watch football with him, but watching any kind of competitive action makes me nauseous? Was I supposed to sit there and try to choke back the bile that rose in my throat each time a player knocked another one to the ground?”
LE: (Really? Trying to eat the runny middle of my egg here!)
EF: “Maybe it made him sick to get out on the dance floor.”
EW: “Oh now you’re like, just being silly. Dancing never made anyone throw up.”
EF: “As a matter of fact, I tried to dance with a date one night after having too much to drink and hurled my steak, baked potato, and carrot dinner all over the dance floor.”
LE: (Forget the eggs. Maybe I’ll work on the bacon for a while.)
EW: “Well, that was unfortunate, but I’ll bet it is rare. Anyway, my point is he was a selfish pig who wanted everything his own way.”
EF: “Here’s the deal. So-called loser (not his real name) and I have been friends since first grade. We both have our faults, but we would do anything for each other. And we’re both good people. The two of you just did not work out. It happens. All of the time. There is no need for either one of you to trash the other. And there is no need for any of your friends to feel like they have to take sides.”
LE: (Silent cheer.)
EW: “Well, of course not. I just don’t want anyone, like, blaming me? I mean, I really, really, really, really tried?”
EF: “So just move on. He has.”
Waiter stops by to drop off my check. He gives the non couple theirs, also. Neither of them reaches for it.
EW: “I guess I should pay for this, since I asked you out to breakfast?”
EF: “Well thanks. The food was very good.”
I got up to leave and was walking away when I heard:
EW: “Like, can you at least leave the tip? You two are so alike, you know?”
I left feeling a bit nauseated myself.