I had one of those tables of two on Wednesday night that you sort of know but you don't know well enough. Friends of friends rather than actual friends, if you know what I mean. Actually they are more acquaintances of friends than friends of friends. To be honest that is stretching it a bit. The guy used to go out with a friend of my mates. Christ I'm making hard work of this.
I sort of knew the guy, that's all you need to know.
But he thinks he knows me, which is disappointing because he greeted me like a long lost brother with a big hearty hello, complete with backslapping and big toothy smile, and I returned it with nothing more than a vague and skeptical look.
"Right, yeah I'm good. And how are you....?", I scanned the booking sheet in the vain hope that his name would pop out. It did not. More disappointment.
After an awkward moment or two where I pretended to know who the hell he was I got him seated. Actually I got waiter chum number four to seat him. His over the top greeting and overt friendliness unsettled me and I needed a moment to figure out who he was. By the time my dark matter clicked into gear waiter chum had secured a drink order from him and the guy's dining partner had excused herself to the bathroom. He had gone out with my chums friend and had been less than chivalrous towards her, the two timing rat.
I drifted over with his drinks. That's not entirely accurate, drifting that is, as I was shattered from a busy lunch shift and pre concert crowd. The Dionne Warwick crowd isn't a happy crowd. It would be judicious to say I dragged my aching body to his table, think Quasi Modo minus a bell fetish and you are about right.
"So how's you doing Richard? Haven't seen you in a while", says I with fake sincerity.
"Oh good good Manuel, busy with a bit of this and that and more of the same." I love people who speak in riddles. Wanker. Bit of this and that is it? Nothing in other words.
"That's good [long pause filled only with nodding head and fake smiles] eh I'll be back in a mo then to get your order."
"Great man, sweet, cheers." And just as I was about to turn my back his lady friend returned from the toilet.
"Ah Manuel this is my current girlfriend, Jenny. Jenny this is Manuel", he was looking rather smug at both of us. It almost seemed like he was proud to be showing of his rather attractive girlfriend to me and he was trying to show off the fact that he knew the waiter to her. Massive douche syndrome. But I heard what he said, Jenny heard what he said. I decided to stick around to see how that little faux pas was gonna play out. Deliciously I hoped.
"Excuse me?", says Jenny right on queue.
"Man-uel", says our Richard or Dick as I think I'll call him from here on in. He said it nice and slow as if Jenny hadn't heard him right.
"I heard his name." Her head was going like a cement mixer.
"What do you mean ,"current girlfriend"?" Ding ding ding, we have a winner! I was still standing there with the tray held up on my chest. This was gonna kick off.
"Ach...", says Dick "....you know what I mean"
"No, actually I don't, why don't you tell me?"
"Seriously I didn't mean anything." His uncomfortableness was pleasing me and I chuckled, into myself, as he squirmed and wriggled on his increasing hot chair.
"NO, explain yourself. Am I just a temporary measure? A stand in until something better comes along? Explain yourself." She was calm but forceful. I was still there, still watching, still loving it. I wanted to shake hands with Jenny and introduce myself properly. Honest. Describing your partner in the same way you describe a car or stereo or mobile phone is not smart, it's offensive.
"No, no you're not." Turning to me he continues with, "Manuel..."
"Yup?" I was intrigued.
"This is Jenny my one and only girlfriend."
Now I know what he meant but it didn't come across the way he meant it. It instead implied that there may be others and knowing his track record there probably were. Jenny took it that way too. We shook hands and I backed away.
"Listen Dick, just stop speaking. Your digging a hole", says Jenny from behind her menu.
Dick was ashen. Jenny was angry. Manuel was full of the joys of life. Other peoples pain? Is there anything funnier? In the end Jenny wasn't hungry, apparently and they both left after finishing their drinks. I think Jenny went to fetch the car as she left before Dick, on her own. I don't think Jenny is Dick's current girlfriend or ever will be again.