Monday, April 21, 2014

Call of the Wild

I like to watch the show "Snapped" when I'm getting ready to go to work. It profiles women who murder, which I find interesting, and it isn't especially visual, they'll show the same photos and people repeatedly, so I can concentrate on drawing on my eyebrows without having to look at the television too much. Drew doesn't really get it, he thinks it's morbid, which is probably true, but even he will occasionally get sucked in and add commentary: "My, that's a handsome woman..." or "You'd think he would have noticed all that anti-freeze in his spaghetti..."

I saw one recently about two high school girls who fought over the same guy: a skinny little kid with a baby mustache who considered himself a player and enjoyed pitting the girls against one another. One girl was from a blue collar background, very pretty, a dropout who worked as a waitress, the other one was from a more middle class background, still going to school with straight A's, not as pretty but with other advantages. The competition for the boy's attention quickly escalated to threats via phone and text, harassment at the waitress job, aand generally picking at each other whenever possible until combusting into a physical fight in which the pretty waitress stabbed the good student, who died. So over some selfish jerk that neither one of them would probably love forever, one girl dies without fulfilling a blossoming potential, another one goes to prison for 27 years. Two families devastated while dumbass "playa" remained unpunished and claimed remorselessly on the stand that neither girl was his girlfriend.

Hmm...there but for the grace of God. In my youth I suffered mightily over many mistakes and got into all kinds of verbal and physical altercations struggling to keep my own prizes. Thank you, Jesus, thank you Lord that I had the presence of mind to leave the knives at home. But I feel great sympathy for the girl who didn't. You do stupid things when you're young and haven't got the full capacity to appreciate the likely consequences. One weekend in jail was enough to cure me of the need to be right, what would 27 years do?

I was at work on Saturday night a couple of weeks ago when a trio parked themselves at the end of my bar: an American brunette woman, American blonde woman and a European, possibly French guy. The women were in their late 20's, early 30's and each beautiful in a different kind of way. The guy was average looking, attractive, with a short beard and nondescript clothing. He had an accent and kept ordering whiskey sours for the three of them without knowing what they were called and without tipping. The brunette woman would notice and put a tip down for me, and one or two times handed money over his shoulder to me for the drinks while he fumbled with singles for what seemed an interminable amount of time, leading me to suspect that he didn't have a lot of cash and wasn't super pumped about paying for all of the drinks.

The brunette seemed most in control of the situation: she leaned against the wall looking cool and talking while they drank, whereas the blonde got bombed almost immediately and would sort of veer around wildly to stare at me with her mouth open. If I approached and asked what she needed, she gaped without response until slowly veering back toward the other two.

It was an annoying and somewhat bovine behavior. My apologies to the cows of this world for that reference, as they are generally more endearing when they stare, but that was the word that came to mind as I tried to ignore the constant eyeball.


The blonde didn't seem to like me much and didn't seem to know when to stop drinking. Euro-dude kept trying to order her another whiskey sour, to which I would reply "Hell, no!" and told him that if she couldn't form a sentence she couldn't have any more booze. She continued to stare with her mouth open while these exchanges went on, ignoring the consolation glass of water I plunked down in front of her. My impression was that Euro guy was with the blonde, as he seemed most interested in her, and the brunette was sort of hanging in there to keep an eye on her drunk friend.

The brunette thanked me for the blonde's water, and as it was late and slowing down, I asked her if she wanted to do a shot with me. She did, and we did. After the shot I waved my finger in a circle at the three of them,

"So tell me what's going on here."

She said, "This is my best friend, and she and I are in competition for this guy right now."

I was tempted to recite one of my favorite quotes, made by Rosie Perez in a pretty crappy movie called Untamed Heart:

"Look at him! He looks like a tumor sittin' over there. Ugh, and his hair! It just bothers me so much!"

I wish I could find the movie clip but it appears that no one on youtube thinks it's as funny as I do. And I can't do Rosie's accent justice so I stuck to the truth and said, "Really? But he's so ordinary. He doesn't seem to have much money, he's average-looking..." She turned around to look at him as he was in the middle of doing a happy little I'm-with-two-babes dance.


I rolled my eyes and continued. "There's a pot belly under that sweater. That's only going to get worse you know. And you're hot, and smart, and can have any single guy in this room right now. And your friend...Well, she's hot anyway..."

She laughed and said, "We just both really like him and I think neither of us wants to let the other win."

I went back to bartending and the stand-off continued for another half hour. Brunette got Euro-guy to dance with her while Blonde glare-gaped at me and spilled the water. I was a little nervous that left unattended she might vomit on my bar, so I refilled it and stuck it in front of her again.

Eventually Blonde pulled herself together, registered that the other two were dancing too closely for her liking, did a little foot-stomp, and ran out of the room. Brunette took the opportunity to grab Euro-guy and make out with him for a second before they both left the room to get their friend. I thought that was the end of the show but they brought her back for a convo. Blonde yelled at Brunette, Euro-guy tried not to grin too obviously with glee before chasing after Blonde as she ran back out of the room for the second and last time. Brunette turned and said,

"Thank you for everything." I replied,

"Dude, seriously. You have all the power. Don't hand it over to this doofus." She waved and left.

It wasn't exactly a bummer; the unfolding of a good drama is entertaining when you're bored behind a bar. But I did feel badly for Brunette, she was so much better than her current choice. It would have been nice to save her a little pain and suffering, as I already know exactly how it will play out. Euro-guy will happily sleep with whomever will have him, but will always lean toward the blonde. Someone will feel hurt and betrayed, harsh words will be exchanged, and the two girls will experience a rift in their friendship which might never be repaired, even though both of them will look back one day and wonder why they thought he was so duel-worthy. He will most likely go back to France and tell all of his friends how much fun American girls are...



There is no moral to this blog or way to wrap it up, just wanted to tell the story. I hope that at least a little of what I said to the brunette sinks in. People have made very wise statements to me that I didn't quite get at the time, now I understand them fully. Most of the time the words don't make sense until the experience connects. Knowing something in your brain won't affect behavior until you know it in your stomach and heart as well, so most of us are compelled to heed the call of the wild until it doesn't appeal so much any more. It could be worse, at least I got the lessons after a few smacks on the head, I know people who are still repeating their same mistakes at very advanced ages.



It's all a journey, I suppose. I'm sure I've written this before, but it bears repeating: I had a conversation with a friend in which I said,

"I can't believe I wasted so much time suffering and fighting over so little." She shrugged and said,

"Eh. You had to learn the lesson from someone. At least he looked good..."

Maybe that's all we can hope for as we repeat the mistakes of those that came before us: to be able to forgive the idiots we were, try to pass on the knowledge gained, and accumulate a few good stories and photos in the process.


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