They are staring at me. Intensely.
My back is turned to them now. Although I can’t see them, I can still sense they are staring intensely at me, as if I’m some unimaginable monstrosity that has walked into their midst . As I talk to my date, I can practically feel their gazes burn holes in the back of my head.
It is an awkward situation to say the least. Be strong Smooth, I think to myself, Take a deep breath, settle down, and keep your composure.
I have to be strong, for the date if not for me. She certainly has done nothing wrong, and has no reason to be embarrassed. We came in this quaint establishment to get out of the rain, grab a drink and bite to eat. Simple things ordinary 42 year olds should be able to do on a regular Saturday night.
But I am not ordinary. Everything always has to be so fucking complicated with me. It’s a curse. Why did they have to be here now? What are the odds!?
If I act embarrassed by the date–by us being here together–she will sense it. I’ve learned that much: A woman can tell when a man isn’t proud to be with her. No woman I’m attracted to is going to tolerate that; this one least of all. Nor should any woman in her position be made to feel that way, for they deserve better. And she knows this.
If I don’t handle this right I’ll lose her. She definitely didn’t sign up for this kind of bullshit! It’s up to me to find a graceful way out of this predicament. It’s time for me to man up.
In my heart I know to never confuse what is popular with what is right. With that knowledge comes confidence. Standing for what you believe in: That’s what being a man is all about. Like the hero in every Western there ever was–one man standing tall for what he knows is right. The number of guns against him is irrelevant, the only option is for a man to stay true to what he knows is right.
Smooth, you have to do what you have to do. It’s time for me to test drive my newly reattached testicles. Like Doc Holliday, I’m going to walk over there and say what needs to be said. If they don’t like it they can kiss my rebel dick.
I turn and walk straight towards the table. They are looking the other way now–pretending they never saw me. Melany looks at the menu as if she is focused on it, but she is whispering under her breath, no doubt warning the rest of her group that I’m on my way. The collision course is set.
Upon arrival, normal courtesies are exchanged. They seem to be just as uncomfortable with the situation as I am, some more uncomfortable than others, and some are more graceful under pressure than others. I think to myself that the Baptists of the group must have more practice smiling through sinful hypocrisy than I do. In fact, smiling must be a natural defense of Tracy’s. If she stretches her muscles any harder the corners of her lips are going to touch touch her ears!
After all, this is the South. We use pretty manners. More so than ever during awkward moments such as these.
These are my wife’s co-workers and friends. Bumping into them is inconvenient since my date happens to not be my wife.
These people have been to my house countless times, as I’ve been to their’s. Not so long ago really, back when my wife and I still let the world believe we were the perfect family unit. What a charade…
Now we are separated. The perfect family unit is no more. I have little doubt that talk around their breakroom is that the demise of our perfect family unit is all my fault. Maybe some were giving me the benefit of the doubt–at least before now. But now I am here with the date–that is, BUSTED here with the date…moving forward I will no longer be enjoying the benefits of any doubts.
I look to my drinking buddy Tim, hoping to see some sign of support. Hoping for some eye contact that says, “don’t worry man, I’ve got your back.” But he will not even look at me in the eye. There is no hope for me here.
It’s not that I’m having a tawdry affair, for I’ve been separated for months and moving towards divorce. The problem is that this is disrespectful to my wife. I’m not supposed to be out happy with another woman. I’m supposed to be mourning my marriage. Being here with a date doesn’t fit what they think I should be doing now. Therefore, every negative image these people had of me was just reinforced times a thousand. On their way home this evening wives will ask husbands, “how could he do that to her?”
After finishing brief courtesies, I bid them all a goodnight and turn to walk away. They will talk now that my back is turned. I gave them the opportunity to talk to my face, but they chose to wait.
To Be Continued…