Strictly Speaking

“Hey, how are you doing?” said the guy at the bar. He was kind of handsome, but a little creepy, like a child molester trying to fool everybody by picking up women at the bar. What was I even doing there? “You alone in here? Can I buy you a drink?”

“Strictly speaking,” I said, “I have a boyfriend.”

“Well, that’s too bad,” he said and sat down on the stool next to me, “But can we talk just the same? I was actually kind of relieved when you said it. I get nervous around women and now that I know you’re taken, well, we can talk, I think. You know, just talk, like people. No pressure.”

“What do you want to talk about?” I asked. I had not decided whether I should be friendly or not.

“Just, you know,” he said, “How was your day?”

“It was hard,” I said, “A lot of work.”

“What do you do?”

“I work at an office. I’m an assistant.”

“Hey, that’s neat. My mom was a secretary, that’s kind of similar, I think. Aren’t ya gonna ask me about my day?”

That was the first time I looked him in the eye. “How was your day…”

“Earl,” he said, “My name is Earl.”

“Lucy,” I lied. I do not know why, but something told me not to give him my real name.

“Thanks for asking, Lucy. My day was just swell. I was stuck waiting for this guy for six hours. Waiting in the car outside his office. He finally shows up, I should get out and talk to him. Instead, I just sit on my ass, completely paralyzed by lack of… motivation I guess. I just felt like talking to him is the last thing I ever want to do in the whole world, you know what I mean?”

“Yeah, totally,” I said.

“So the guy walks into his office, disappears inside. And me, I just sit there for like another hour when all of a sudden, I begin to feel happy, you know? I am just so glad to be in the car, I begin to love the smell, the feel of the upholstery, the light reflecting off the hood. It’s so beautiful. I begin to cry. Tears of joy, like they say in the movies. Have you ever felt like that?”

I shrugged. I felt the conversation was getting too personal and I was not looking to connect with another human being. I did not want any more emotion that day, I was completely exhausted. I made a dissatisfied face. My bitch face.

“Well, I’ll get outta your hair now,” he said. “Nice meeting you, Lucy. Nice meeting you.”

I sighed with relief when he left. I feel like a horrible person for admitting it, but I was really glad he was gone.

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