Will Noonan
Copyright 2000
I sat across from her and stared out the window. There was a man on the street trying to fix his flat tire in the rain and he was kicking the curb over and over, screaming something you didn't have to be any sort of a lip reader to understand. I looked back at her for a second. She was still going.

I didn't even hear her anymore; it was just in one ear and out the other, the same old story that I'm so, so sick of. The only way I knew she was talking anymore was by seeing if her lips were still moving. I looked around the diner we were in while she jabbered on and on. The thought passes that I'm probably here too much, I know all the waitresses first names and love life problems, they know my first name and how I like my coffee. It's probably a better relationship than I could imagine, no fights , no goodbyes, just short bits of information and smiles for a better tip.  This diner is great, its nice and small and it's always filled with smells of cigarettes and pancake mix.

I know the owner , I even used to work here for about a year. One day I was sitting all alone, at the bar instead of a booth, eating pancakes and drinking coffee like I'd done probably a thousand times before. The owner walked up to me and told me how a waiter called in sick at the last minute and he was screwed. He told me if I covered for him I could make 80 bucks plus tips.

I had nothing to do so I went to it, pretty badly at that. I started to be regular waiter there, I bused my own tables so I didn't have to split tips and after a while I used to even cook, now and then.

It was a pretty sweet deal, I got to know the regular customers in that same relationship the waitresses know me now. I had a good time while working there, its still probably the best job I've ever had and right now I can't even remember the reason why I quit.

I looked back at the girl. Blah, Blah, Blah, God she could talk. Actually I remember our first date, she hardly said a word I remember wishing she would speak up every now and then. God, Be careful what you wish for.  Now she never shuts up, her mouth and eyebrows move in sync, they move up and down on different words. Its funny when she emphasizes a point and they shoot up towards the ceiling. I had never been so bored. I picked at this hole on the leg of my corduroys , it was getting bigger and bigger. Pretty soon I'd have to throw out these pants.

There's silence for a minute.  Has she finally stopped?

Not so lucky. I look up and the waitress has brought our food. I got pancakes and she got this huge meal. She was always saying how "not hungry" she was when she was looking over the menu, but then she'd order a huge meal and eat every last bite. Girls baffle me.  She took a mammoth bite out of this burger that could probably feed a family of 5 somewhere in Africa . She continued again to nag me about her favorite topic: my faults. I pretended like I was interested, mostly by nodding and looking at her, but all I was really doing was thinking how much she looked like a lion or something taking big huge bites out of this burger. If anyone really enjoyed red meat it was her. She liked it rare too.

I smiled at this joke inside my head, I had a pet name for her, Bloodsucker. I mean I never called her that to her face but it fit because she was big into rare red  meat and she was sucking the life out of me. She caught my smile and accused me of finding something funny in what she said. I told her I didn't find my character being attacked funny at all. She grinned in her victory of finally getting me to speak. She said it was about time I finally spoke up. We needed to talk about "things" she said. God I wanted out of that diner like Clint Eastwood wanted out of Alcatraz.

Why do girls always need to say words like "things" and "stuff" when all they want to do is talk about "how much you suck?"

I stood up and told her I had a date with my brother for lunch. She said it was 8 in the evening.


I told her I was pretty late so I better get going. She asked me why I take nothing seriously, and I really didn't have an answer.  She had a sad look on her face, it was put on though, she was a really bad actress.  I tossed my twenty bucks on the table, it paid for us both and left a big tip. Ever since I was a waiter I became this really big tipper. Occupational hazard, I guess.

I started to walk for the door. I took so much pleasure in ending things abruptly and just walking out. No one wants to admit it but we all want to live inside a movie and being James Dean is way cooler than being Woody Allen.  She knew better than to follow me, when they follow me I get mean, she knew this because she learned the hard way.

I walked in the pouring rain alone. That guy was still working on that tire, I wanted to tell him that swearing at it wasn't going to get it fixed, but I'd get in trouble. I learned that the hard way. I walked down into Chinatown and wondered if the prostitutes cared if I never took anything seriously.  I bet they didn't.

I got onto a train and sat in a neon red plastic chair.  When I got up I left a puddle of rain water for the next poor sap to sit in.

I wondered if she was sitting in the diner right now asking herself questions about me. She was one of those girls who lives in this fantasy land where absolutely nothing is ever their fault. I decided to put it all behind. She was boring, she really didn't like me that much and there would be a hundred more just like her. I decided to see a movie, a love story.

My favorite thing about movies is everyone finds love on the first try. People complain that films create false expectations out of life. I think those people should all go away. I'd like to say I never heard from that old girl again, but of course I did that same night. I wish she tried a little harder to make life a movie. We broke up of course, I actually just told her the standard lines "I'm going through a tough time right now," "its not you its me."

Sometimes I make myself sick. This would make it much easier for her to bash me to her friends later on, and that's the least I can do for them.  Every girl I've ever dated had never been to the diner until I took them. And they never went back after we broke up. I liked that a lot. The diner was my price and even girls, the most confusing of all organisms, could respect that.

Maybe they aren't so bad, and maybe I should start looking for a new girlfriend.

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