I was going into an establishment with a buddy when two late-young-adult women came out and confronted us in their gravelly voices.
“Do either of you have a cigarette?”
I give them a quizzical look that communicates “tell me more.”
The sharper-looking one in a sweater and dress pants explained:
“Well, I quit a long time ago but I really need a smoke, we’re trying to find anybody who can give us one.”
I noticed a wedding ring on her left hand.
“So we’re only good to you as a source of tobacco?”
[slight chuckles] “Yeah, I guess so.”
“Well I think that’s the end of our night together then.”
“You don’t have any?”
We went inside, ordered our beers and sat down to sip them.
By the time we’re about done with our first round, sweater girl comes walking down the bar. She’s tall and moves athletically and with purpose. I tap her on the arm as she walks by. “Did you ever get that cigarette?”
“NOOO! Nobody in this freaking neighborhood smokes apparently!” Her tone is of plaintive, sad frustration rather than pure bitchiness.
My buddy and I are sitting at a bar island, and she swings around and stands at the head of the table next to me. The elevation is such that I am sitting eye level with her stood up.
“Is it an anxious kind of night?”
She starts to ramble. “Yeah…well I quit a few years ago but my husband’s grandmother is probably going to die tonight, she has dementia.We just got married a month ago.”
I don’t recall the words of her answer, but it wasn’t anything along the lines of “it’s great.” She started to get a distant, withdrawn look in her eyes. I could see the female apprehension cascade starting.
“He’s eight years younger than me.”
I reply plainly, “really, how old are you?”
“I’m 33,” she says with mild disappointment.
“Do you think that’s old or young?”
“I don’t know…kind of old? I mean I’m 33.” I don’t respond.
“But he’s like totally old-man, and I’m really immature so it works.”
“How did you meet your husband?”
“I interviewed him for a job.”
“REAAlly…did he get the job?”
“Oh, of course. We had other candidates but he was the best. We knew we were for each other right when we met. I was dating another guy at the time and went home and broke up with him, told him I had met this perfect awesome guy.”
“I bet that was a big surprise for him.”
“We should have broken up like a year before.”
All this time she’s gradually nuzzling up to me, sidling her hip and elbow to touch me. I maintain a plain, nonplussed frame that keeps the conversation going without escalating against her interest. I’m pretty sure I’m getting hit on, but I convince myself I’m doing her a favor by letting her vent a bit and get some attention.
She shakes my hand. ”Well I have to go find my husband and a smoke. It’s been great talking to you, have a good night,” and she struts away.
White collar happy hours are not known for that kind of emotional outpouring between strangers. I turned to my friend and said “wow she reminded me of Lisa.” Lisa is a married mutual friend of ours who is neurotic and addicted to male attention from any source.
“The difference is that Lisa isn’t going to cheat on her husband.”
“So I’m not the only one who got that vibe from this chick?”