It was warm out, so I’d decided to eat my lunch out on the patio of our workplace. I ate ravenously, barely chewing before swallowing, inhaling more and more until my plate was nearly clean. One would think I had malnutrition. I probably was…being a “starving actor” ‘n all. I ate alone, a warm breeze flushing my cheeks. I enjoyed eating alone. It was peaceful and I didn’t have to talk to anyone. I could focus purely on my food. I could focus and think…
Think…think and thinking and thinking too much…
I wondered about my friend Pablo and why he liked Bobby, or Robert—or whatever—so much. Pablo was my best friend, but I couldn’t understand what he saw in him. Why he thought he was a really nice guy when he was a total ass. I thought about the time I asked Bobby to stay at work for me so I could go home early and he said “no, that he had to get home to his daughter.” Then when he was done with his shift, he ended up hanging out with Pablo at the bar with a couple of drunken girls. I was really mad about that. Angrier than usual. I shouldn’t have been. He wasn’t my husband. But there just HAD to be a reason why he was acting this way. It didn’t make any sense. Because he WAS a really nice guy. He wasn’t a jerk. But his actions just didn’t match up. And Pablo liked him, and so did a lot of people, so why was it I was seeing him as the bad guy? There just had to be a reason why he acted the way he did and it was going to drive me insane until I found out why!
“Hey, whatcha thinkin’?”
Speak of the devil…
“What’s up, Bobby,” I said, snapping into focus, and wiping any residual food-crumbs off the corners of my mouth. He was standing across from me, smiling his usual-annoying smile.
“Oh, I just saw you out here and wanted to say hi, but you looked deep in thought…” he said, smiling.
“Oh yeah, I do that,” I said, wiping my face again with my napkin. I could’ve sworn I felt leftover crumbs on my face still.
“Whatcha eating?” he asked, his fingers laced in front of him as he casually leaned against a chair.
“Um…” I glanced down at my plate…what did I eat? I was so hungry, I didn’t even pay attention. “I dunno, sliders?” I shrugged.
Bobby nodded. “They must’ve been good.”
“Yep.” My eyes flicked from my plate to Bobby and back again. “So, what’s up?”
He shrugged…and smiled again. “Just wanted to say hi.”
“Why don’t you act like a married man?” I blurted, as if the situation couldn’t be anymore uncomfortable for me and my “private” lunch.
He blinked and the smile went slightly crooked, but seemed to still hold on. And then his face relaxed, as if a sense of relief went through him. “Do you really wanna know?” he said.
“Um, yeah. I wouldn’t ask you if I didn’t.” Boy, I could such a bitch to him.
Bobby sighed and the smile was gone. Then he went into a story I would never forget. Out of respect for the sake of their own relationship’s privacy, I won’t divulge. But all you need to know is that the man went from beginning to end with a story about what happened between him and his wife. And because I could sense he was telling the truth (lies are easy to spot, trust me), the hate and anger I felt for him melted away. Those feelings were replaced with a sadness and a touch of guilt for hating him so much. I asked him why, if the two of them were so miserable, he or her didn’t ask for a divorce. He told me that he wouldn’t do it because he wanted the best for his daughter, but that the idea of divorce crossed his mind many times. He figured, being an incredibly patient man, he would try to wait it out until his daughter grew to be 18.
After a moment, he said, “Do you think I’m a bad person?” And he was serious, the look in his eyes glossing over.
“No,” I said. “I think you’re human.”
My insides warmed but in a very sad and guilty way. It felt like everything I thought I knew or assumed about Bobby was right and wrong at the same time. Bobby was trapped in a marriage where both people wanted to escape and neither knew how to do it right. From then on, I decided to make him a friend. Not a close friend, but in my circle of people who I knew needed somebody. I called it The Losers Club (because, frankly, I was one of the biggest losers).
“Thank you for telling me,” I said. “If you ever need a friend…” This time I smiled.
A month or so had passed since we had that talk on the patio. We were good friends at work, but nothing more. My sarcasm remained when talking with him, but we were more playful than we had been before.
One day, while the two of us worked at our computer stations, he looked at me with a particularly bright smile and said, “I’ve got some interesting news to tell you.”
“Oh yeah? What?” I said, smirking at him with my usual cockiness.
“I’m getting a divorce.”
My jaw dropped…