I’m at a local bar on a first date with Ryan. Ryan, 29, is a software developer, pursuing his masters and has a winning smile. He’s not terribly tall (kind of a bummer), but we share a similar background: he’s an accidental dad to a two year old toddler. We have pleasant conversation, first about the pitfalls of online dating and then about our kids. I can’t say that we have immediate chemistry. He doesn’t appreciate my sarcastic nature. I have to repeat myself a few times. Then again, I’m “meh” about most of the men I date.
In my peripheral, I see a beanstalk. He’s easily 6’6 feet tall. Hard to miss. I also notice his lack of chin covered by a thick and unruly beard. He’s a few feet behind Ryan, swigging away at his beer. And he’s looking at me as if he knows me. He does. I see him lean over to a blonde, plump woman with a huge, glittering rock nestled between her knuckles. She’s listening, stealing glances at my table and flipping the ring with her thumb and pointer finger. In the corner of the bar, a light bulb dims and casts a shadow on the pair.
It’s Bobby and his wife Jennifer. My ex’s best friend. I went to their wedding about a year ago, five months pregnant.
Bobby grabs his coat and a pack of cigarettes. He’s heading this way. I brace myself.
“Penny?” he says, less as a question and more as a statement.
“Bobby?!” I feign surprise.
Bobby smiles and surveys my date. I can feel the chilly breeze of judgement pass between us. Or maybe it is the cold night air rushing in as the door is pulled open by other patrons. Either way, there is a nefarious aura settling into the empty seat next to me.
“How are you doing?” he asks.
“Great! How’s married life?” I say, trying to divert attention.
“Good. Good,” he says. “I saw Andrew a few weeks ago. He’s getting big.”
Bobby waits for the revelation to side-swipe my date. Ryan doesn’t flinch. I am NOT going to introduce them.
“Yeah, he really is,” I agree. “Well it was great seeing you.”
“You too…take care,” he says with his perma-grin, sans chin. Because I couldn’t differentiate Bobby’s smile from his neck, he resembled the Cheshire Cat, disembodied and fading into the background of the bar. He was always an odd duck. Bobby opens the door wide and lets a whoosh of cold air blast our table. I peer out of the window and see him feverishly texting while sucking in smoke.
Ryan looks at me, waiting for an explanation. When I don’t offer one, he asks, “Well that was weird. What just happened?”
I shoot him a sly smile. “My ex’s best friend.”
“Ohhhh,” Ryan says knowingly. We don’t discuss it further.
Let’s get one thing straight. Bobby and his Pollyanna wife never liked me. They sent SH one wedding invitation due to “seating arrangements.” Clearly a cowardly move. SH threatened to boycott the wedding so they reconsidered. Jennifer, always condescending, didn’t want SH to bring another one of his “girls” who would “fuck up” her wedding. She viewed me with disdain and categorized my accidental pregnancy as “drama.” I am a strong believer of karma- a sort of cause and effect energy transference. Without lifting a finger or sending her a knowing smile, the wheels are already in motion.
Bobby is a despicable character; another psychopath. To illustrate, at his bachelor party he slept with a prostitute. I wish I could say this was an isolated incident. It’s not. SH could be lying, something he did effortlessly, but Bobby’s Cheshire-Cat smile tells me otherwise. Ice princess probably knows her husband is a philanderer. Bitchy, materialistic women like Jennifer, who “wouldn’t accept anything less than four carats,” turn a blind eye for a reason. She’s a camel — KMIL — or Keep Me In Louis [Vuitton].
And believe me, she’s covered in a whole lot of Louis…