I was busying myself on my phone, as usual.
But I looked up because I felt someone approach. I felt their eyes on me. I lifted mine to meet their gaze.
"Hi," she said. Her uniform's red bandana gave her away as one of the waitresses. I was curious to see her; I wasn't expecting any food.
"Hi there," I said.
She twisted her mouth. "See that guy over there?"
Without looking, I said, "The really drunk one against the wall?"
"The one in the white shirt?" she offered, seemingly sinking into herself even though she was standing.
"Yeah the one that just came and sat at the bar and then turned around and sat back at the table? That guy?"
The waitress winced. "He wrote you a note," she said, holding up a folded piece of paper.
"Oh yeah?" I asked, humored. "What does it say? Did you read it?"
"Well let's take a look!" I was always up for a little drunken hilarity at bars and restaurants, and this wasn't the first time that I'd been approached from across the room.
Scrawled across the white piece of paper was something about how
"Oh hilarious!" I laughed. "He must be drunk. How do I respond?"
Just then the waitress - who'd introduced herself as Emily as she was thanking me for being so cool about it - got pulled away, and I took a moment to consider my reply. He wasn't dashing. He was too drunk to be interesting. And he was on a date with another girl. So I wrote, "I'm sorry but I have to get up really early in the morning. Besides, I don't steal other girls' dates."
I folded it up, handed it back to Emily, and sent her back to his table. Later, she reported back that when he opened it up and recited it to the table, he punctuated it with, "Classy."
"That is classy!" Emily said to him, and to me later.
"The truth is," I confessed, "That's totally a lie. I totally do steal other girls' dates."
Soon thereafter, the guy - whose name I never got - sauntered by me at the bar on his way out, kind of poked me in the back a little bit, and walked out with his arm around his date, I shaking my head.
"He actually wrote you back," Emily said, "But I didn't want to give it to you."
"Oh yeah? What'd it say?"
"'It's meant to be.'"
And then, in unison, we said, "Ugh."
And then I thought about how he walked out with the girl, the same girl who was at the table every time I looked over, and who must've been there when he wrote the note to me, and when he read my reply aloud. My face fell.
"What's wrong?" Emily asked.
"I just realized, they must've been making fun of me."
"No, no, no, don't be silly..." she protested.
But it sure seemed like his date was in on the joke. And they walked out, laughing, while I still sat there, at the bar, alone, eyes welling.
Why did they decide to target me? Because they saw me sitting, eating, drinking, tweeting alone? Because they always see me there alone?
Because it's so absurd to think that someone might like the sight of me so much that they might actually write me a genuine note and send it to me with the waitress?
No one likes being picked on, and usually whoever is picking on you isn't worth the angst they create. But no matter how small, infantile, insignificant or idiotic the mocker is, it doesn't make the mockery sting any less.
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