"You know what? I'd actually like a Shirley Temple, please," I said to our favorite bartender (OFB).
Surprised at the change from my usual Diet Coke, he threw in some extra maraschino cherries for me. I thanked him.
It was nice to have something different to drink. I stirred it with my straw, watching the Sprite and the grenadine swirl together. I had fun digging the cherries out from the bottom of my tall glass. I sipped away, enjoying the old familiar taste. It made me remember one of my favorite childhood memories.
When I was very young, there was a bar/restaurant near our house. They made great pizza, and when my dad wanted a late night snack, he would go there and get carry-out pizza. Knowing my mom hated bars and was not a night owl, he would wake me up instead and take me with him to wait on the pizza. I would sit next to him at the bar, in my red footie pajamas. He would drink a beer. I would drink a Shirley Temple, footie feet swinging in the air. I loved the feeling of being a kid, hanging out with the grown-ups. It felt like a secret we were keeping from The Czarina -- me out way past my bedtime, drinking sugary drinks and eating pizza. I don't remember how the pizza tasted, or if the bartender would talk to us. But I do remember how special Dad managed to make me feel, even from a young age.
I smiled, recalling the vague memories, and missing my dad. Lost in my thoughts, I suddenly realized I'd been sitting there, undisturbed, for quite some time. Unfortunately, Wild Wings was pretty dead. Not nearly as fun and crowded as the night before. This time, it was just me, two girlfriends and OFB.
Normally, the three of us can carry the whole bar, laughing, flirting and carrying on with anyone and everyone. But tonight, I was on my own. My girls were otherwise occupied with their respective boyfriends. Both of them sat on their cell phones, arguing with their men for most of the evening. And when they weren't on the phone, arguing, they were bitching about their men to me.
One couple has been dealing with jealousy/family issues. The other couple has been together since they were teenagers and have never really dated anyone else. Their relationship expired about a year ago, yet they have been hanging on for dear life, out of convenience, comfort or terror. Or maybe all three.
"Wow, I sure am glad I'm single right now. I definitely don't miss any of this crap!" I thought. In the middle of their venting, I looked at OFB and just rolled my eyes. He laughed.
Later, when the girls were both in the bathroom, I said to him, "They fight all the time. I wish they'd just break up already! It's so ridiculous!" He laughed again.
After another Shirley Temple, I called it a night and escaped to my stable, calm and wonderfully boring Single Girl life.
Last night, I went out with another group of friends. We went to dinner, despite the obvious absence of one of our core group members. I almost asked why she wasn't with us, when I remembered: she has a boyfriend.
Do you have a friend who disappears on you once they start dating someone? Yeah, that's her. She does this every time she's got a new man.
Her name was brought up, and we began to discuss this new guy she's dating. I met him briefly a few months ago, and I was not impressed-- I thought he was boring and drank too much. But that was really all I had to go on. It turns out that my instincts were right. One of us, through mutual friends, found out the scoop on this guy:
1. He is about 35, and is still smoking pot.
2. He got a DUI a few months ago. This has not curtailed his drinking at all, just his driving. So now our friend is driving his drunk ass around everywhere.
3. Because she's hanging out with an alcoholic, her already slightly elevated alcohol intake has doubled. So now she is driving around like this. If she gets a DUI, it would seriously affect her career. Like, permanently.
4. She is so hung over nowadays, she has stopped going to the gym. (How much drinking do you have to be doing to be hungover that often???) And I'm sure she's been hungover at work, if not calling in sick entirely.
5. This boyfriend of hers doesn't have a job. Oh, he kinda "helps out" with his friend's home business. Whatever that means. He has no benefits at all from this "job".
6. She has been saving up money to buy a house. He is going to move in with her when she does this. And apparently, continue mooching.
7. He has a child that he he doesn't support or see. We do not know if he has informed our friend that he has a child. We happen to know about it through a random coincidence. As far as we know, he is hiding this fact from her. (We wouldn't know, because we don't see her anymore.)
8. The mother of the child, described as a "psycho drug addict", told him she doesn't want to have anything to do with him until he "gets his act cleaned up". WOW.
9. If they do get married (as I'm sure my friend wants to do -- she has marriage on the brain, to a fault), I am worried that the Baby Mama will hear about it and suddenly want some child support money. And since he's a freeloader, it will have to come out of my friend's paycheck. Not to mention, I know she would also add him on to her health care benefits.
What a winner, huh? I think he's got every single red flag a guy can have, short of physical abuse.
The worst part about it is, my friend is the kind of girl who doesn't respond to concerned friends. If we approached her to express our concerns, she would become defensive, make excuses and justify everything. So we are helpless. All we can do is sit back and watch her screw up her life.
I just hope she's using protection, because he is not the kind of guy you want fathering your children. But knowing her, she would use an unplanned pregnancy as an excuse to get married.
Maybe being single isn't that bad. I can enjoy my Shirley Temples in peace.