Before I walked into a local joint for a beverage, while snuffing my cancer stick in the ashtray (talk dirty to me), a fine-looking thirtysomething asked me if he could trouble me for a hug.
Sure, why not? I'm a hugger.
"Your smile is a welcoming presence to my night," he said.
OK, dude. Thank you. Take care.
The only free seats at the bar were adjacent to this dude and his ladyfriend. Seconds later, it became rambunctiously clear why they were unoccupied.
"I feel like you, like, literally never listen to me," she said, loudly, the red wine dangerously swirling around her cup, attempting an escape to the bar floor, lest it be sucked inside that mouth on her. "I literally feel like you don't understand what a relationship is. You're such an idiot. It's like you pretend like you're listening to me, but you literally aren't. I don't like that. It seems like my time would be better spent with another guy. I just like. I can't."
Initially, I thought, I hear ya, broad. The listening apple fell far from the tree like 40 ancestors ago, and many never found where it's buried. Many don't even know what it looks like. They envision it as a prehistoric tool that was used for carving pleasure plugs. But this apple, my friends, is a very important apple that should be eaten once a day to keep any relationship at bay. (Go back to sleep.)
But there's a time and place to yell at someone. Like, not in front of other people.
Dude was squirming in his barstool. Besides nodding and listening, he was silent. He was nervously stirring his drink. Her booze-tinged belittling and berating befell the bar and its patrons for more than an hour.
It was cut long when her friends arrived.
"Oh my gaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaad," she screamed, trailing into a high-pitched squawk.
Jesus. I clutched my ears. I pictured her with fluffy feathers, her head bobbing about as she stroked her wattle and ruffled her fringe.
"Guys. Guys. Guys. Who wants Fireball? Bartender!" she squawked, snapping her fingers in the air at the bartender.
She dropped her phone at multiple selfie attempts with her pals. Ten minutes in, she had yet to acknowledge the man she had been croaking, crowing, cawing, clucking and clacking at was still sitting next to her.
Dude locked eyes with me, giving me a wide-eyed whimper. He got up to go smoke.
"Guys. My boyfriend is, literally, like, the best ever," she cooed, after he left. "I literally have no complaints. He is, like, seriously the best listener. You have no idea how happy I am."
A guy sitting on the other side of me chucked. The pals went wild. Hugs and screams ensued.
I signed my tab, went outside and patted the dude on the back. He smiled.
"It could be worse," he said.
"Or it could be better," I said.
He asked for another hug. I could hear him sniffling.
I went home, sopped up my bleeding ears and didn't apologize to the chicken I warmed up for dinner.