I have a game I play from time to time. The idea is simple: Focus on a few people outside of earshot and role-play their lives in the moment. Tonight a wayward couple managed to find seats at the tables directly across from the bar. The waitress arrived and took their order, and I began.
“A margarita for my wife, and tequila for me.”
They both gave hearty smiles to the waitress, then she left. The woman darted her eyes to her husband. With a satisfied grin he surveyed the room.
“What made you think I wanted a margarita, Al?”
“Everyone here is having a good time except for you.”
“And why Tequila? You don’t think the scotch was enough?”
Alan caught me in my observation. My eyes darted away. He said, “I don’t.”
“You knew we were going to a bar. Why would you feel the need to drink before?”
Alan dusted a crumb off the table. “Because I can.”
“You’re not the same person.”
Alan, this time, was silent.
Alan folded his hands and stared up at the ceiling. It was blank.
“Have you given up?” Sandra said.
Alan met her eyes and glared. “On what?”
The waitress returned in time to step in between the two. Their frustration hung for a second before they began their facade. The waitress smiled and handed them their respective drinks.
“Thank you so much!” they said in near unison.
The waitress gave a smile and left the couple, restored to their true expressions. Alan grabbed his drink. Sandra clung her gaze on Alan.
“Why are we here Alan?”
“Live a little.”
“Alan, I can’t handle much more of this.”
Alan pushed her drink toward her. “Drink up, babe.”
The words echoed in my head. I laughed and reached for another sip of my own. In my own daze, I captured one last glimpse of the couple, smiling, hand-in-hand across the table. I laughed and took one final sip, kicking the glass back far enough to let the rim rest on my forehead. It fell to the counter with little effort. The empty glass clang, and the bartender approached.
“Another tequila please.”