Starbucks, The Final Frontier- okay, that was a lousy intro, my apologies, let me start again:
Hello! I have just returned from what I'm almost 100% certain will be my last coffee meet with Melanie- ever. It went pretty well in my opinion. Well, I suppose technically it was an absolute train wreck... But you win some and you lose some I suppose.
First, allow me to put into words my thoughts before arriving to meet Melanie. I was somewhat confused at the best, utterly lost at the worst, I had never experiences such mixed feelings before in my life. It had become apparent to me that I still wanted her, and there was nothing I could do to rid myself of that, but at the same time, I still felt a certain sense of disdain towards her, maybe it was because she was the author of her own misery, or perhaps it was simply because I still hadn't forgiven her for rejecting me way back when... Of course, this made me angry at myself, I felt like a child again, getting angry and frustrated at such petty, trivial things, I was meant to have grown into adulthood, but here I was, still whining and moaning because I hadn't gotten exactly what I wanted. In reality, I guess most of us are all still spoiled little brats deep inside.
But I didn't have a massive amount of time to dwell on it.
This time, when I walked through the doors, she was there, waiting for me, which told me things were going to be different from the start. This was a far more serious affair- in case you haven't been paying attention thus far- I don't do serious very well.
There was no Metro either- people were gonna have to find another way to get around. It's not like a tube strike is anything new these days anyway...
Sorry, I'm straying from the point again aren't I?
She looked different. It wasn't anything to do with physical appearance, she looked- changed. I felt pity for her; a strange sense of pity. She saw me and smiled a warm, caring smile. My heart shook and my stomach instantly filled itself with metaphorical butterflies.
"Stephen! It's good to see you again...”
"You too, Melanie, how have you been?"
"Good- yeah, I've been good- you?"
"Fantastic, swell, brilliant, delightful, all of the above"
She laughed and then stopped abruptly. Jesus Christ, I was a wreck. We ordered our coffees, she bought them both this time, I didn't object. She ordered a latte- I'm still unsure whether she did that on purpose to make me notice, did it on purpose and hoped I wouldn't notice, or whether she did it absentmindedly due to what I had said. Either way, I instantly felt ashamed of the effect I had, so no matter what her motive, she still managed to provoke another emotion to flare inside me.
"So- how are things with you? We didn't actually speak about you all that much- the last time we spoke."
"We spoke enough about me for my liking" I chuckled nervously. She politely chuckled with me.
"Still- I feel bad going on about myself all the time- how is your family?"
I don't know why she felt the need to bring my family into the mix, but either way she did, and from that point there was no escaping the matter.
"You know my family... still turbulent, still at each other's throats."
"Ah, I see... I’m sorry."
"No, it's okay, you would expect after all this time that they would have managed to resolve some of their issues by now, but no- if anything they just keep making things worse and worse with no consideration for me at all."
"So... the divorce?"
"It's gone through, my parents are officially separated, but that doesn't stop them from verbally bludgeoning each other, and they like to use me as a chess piece, not that either of them actually takes into consideration how I feel."
Again- I felt like a child- nothing more to say.
"And your family?" I said, sipping the froth from the top of my coffee.
"They're alright, nothing really going on with them; I don't see them all that much anyway... not anymore."
"Of course- University and all that jazz."
I think there is a lot to be said for awkward silences. Sometimes they can be hilarious, I've always enjoyed them anyway, mainly because when you laugh it breaks the tension and everyone starts laughing, unless it's something serious. Laughing at a silence during a funeral- for example- would not exactly be appropriate, although I imagine it would still be quite funny, the forbidden laughs are always the sweetest. I say all this because, whilst I most often enjoy these kinds of things, in this situation, I couldn't hate anything more. The silence lasted longer than I wish to comprehend. We didn't look each other in the eye. We listened to other people's conversations rather than engaging in our own. We sipped our coffees to begin, and then began to gulp them down, simply because it was one of the only things we could do, sat opposite to one another, not daring to speak or move. I would have laughed, had I not felt so ashamed, awkward and ultimately humiliated.
Then something happened which was of the greatest relief to me, because it meant I could relieve all that tension.
Melanie spied something- someone. Sitting in the corner of the shop.
Someone- with someone else.
HER someone- with someone else!
I noticed her looking intently over my shoulder and asked what the matter was. She didn't say a word for a while, she simply stared. Finally she spoke to me.
"I think- I think that is Metro over there."
Obviously I had looked before, when I first saw her glancing past me, but I didn't see Metro, but then again, I wasn't keeping my eye out for him. But sure enough, when I glanced back for the second time there he was. Not only that, he was there with a girl, a girl with long jet-black hair. I couldn't see her face as her head was turned away from us, but that did not matter- he was with another girl!
I suppose the correct thing to feel at that moment would have been pity- or sympathy- for Melanie, as the discovery of her evident asswipe of a boyfriend potentially cheating on her would be distressing- for her at least. However, not being in exactly the correct frame of mind, instead I felt a nice, smug sense of satisfaction, followed by a very, very inappropriate sense of amusement. Especially- oh, how I enjoyed that moment- when he leaned in to kiss the mystery girl and Melanie swiftly got to her feet.
Naturally she stormed over there, and I- somewhat behind due to my savouring of the moment- remained in my seat, until it became apparent what was happening and quickly followed behind her as best I could.
"What the hell is this?" she exclaimed, much to the delight of every customer in the place. Metro separated his face from the girl's and looked up at Melanie. Clearly bewildered, he simply stared for a while. I did my best to suppress laughter as I looked at his face; clearly his brain was very, very, very slowly coming to terms with what was going on. The words that his brain decided were the most appropriate for the situation were appalling.
"Hi? Hi? That's what you have to say- to this?" she pointed at the girl, nearly taking her eye out as she did. The next words that came out of his mouth were no improvement.
"You're with him?" I actually winced at that one, I could feel Melanie's wrath boiling inside her so intensely I was afraid of being scorched.
"ARE YOU SERIOUS RIGHT NOW? YOU'RE SUCKING THE FACE OFF THIS BITCH, AND YOU QUESTION WHAT I'M DOING WITH AN OLD FRIEND? FUCK YOU!"
"Who are you?" the girl asked, somewhat innocently. I caught a glimpse of her face then as she turned to look at us. She was Asian- at least part Asian- and unbelievably attractive. She had dark hair and dark eyes, a button nose and a light distribution of freckles on her face. I had to give it to Metro; he had good taste in women.
"I'm his girlfriend! Who are you?"
I could see that Melanie was about to explode, her face had gone bright red and there was fury in her eyes, Metro actually looked somewhat frightened. Obviously, at this point I felt the need to have my say.
"Hey Metro, nice to see you again- good venue for a date, don't you think?"
"I'll give you a fucking venue!" he bellowed, rising from his chair.
"What?" I laughed. He evidently didn't know what venue meant, "I don't know why you are getting mad, I was complimenting your taste, clearly this place is so good that you have to bring all your girlfriends here- it's good planning on your part I would say."
Melanie shot me a dirty look which instantly silenced me.
"So, you're cheating on me?"
"No!" This time I did let out a small chuckle, but I don't think anyone heard. I was extremely anxious to see him talk his way out of this... He didn't disappoint.
"It's not cheating if you are both my girlfriends."
I exploded. I mean... seriously, how could anyone be that fucking stupid?
Melanie turned on me, her punches barely even registered through the hysterical laughter, but eventually she gave up and turned her rage back to Metro.
"You're a two-timing, idiotic little shit!" she bellowed, now throwing her fists at him, doing even less damage than she did to me.
"What about you?" he yelled back, "with him?" Melanie seemed lost for words at the very idea. Fortunately, I wasn't.
"Well Metro, it wouldn't be cheating if we were both her boyfriends."
He lurched for me. Luckily by this point the staff had become aware of the situation and two security guards from the shopping centre appeared at that exact moment to save me from the savage, Neanderthal fists that belonged to Metro, we were all thrown out, but not before I told them I hadn't finished my coffee. They weren't too impressed with that.
Metro's second girlfriend- girlfriend.2, girlfriend#2, girlfriend B... you get the idea... he had two girlfriends- managed to slap him around the face before walking off without another word.
Melanie however, managed to stay a while longer just to reprimand him. I won't go into the details of the lecture, needless to say, it was long, painful, tearful and condemning, but somehow for me, it was made redundant by the fact I imagined she'd given the exact same lecture many times before, just in a different context, to different douchebags. Then she turned to me.
"As for you- you enjoyed all of that way too much- you get your thrills from other people's misery and pain- and someone like that could never truly care for someone else."
"Maybe you are right, maybe I do enjoy it too much, and it is inappropriate, but maybe the only reason I do, is because I spent too much time caring that in the end I had to give it up, because it was hurting me too much to see someone I cared about being constantly fucked over," Her face seemed to drop, and her eyes told me she suddenly understood, "I used to care- about everyone- about everything- about you, but how can I anymore, when there is nothing but misery waiting for me if I do?"
She didn't say anything else. She just stared at me for a while, taking in my words, and then she left. She didn't even look at Metro, who for some reason had lingered while we had been talking. I looked at him; I saw his big muscled frame and his tiny, confused brain and almost felt pity for him.
"Sorry for what I said, Metro," I smiled, "it's hard enough losing one girlfriend, let alone two at the same time." Somehow, he knew that I wasn't being a cocky dick this time. He didn't say anything at first, he just looked at me; then he uttered one word:
That was probably the only remotely intelligent thing he had asked me since we had met. I still don't know whether he was asking why I was sorry, or why should I be sorry when he wasn't, or maybe he meant something else entirely, maybe he meant it rhetorically, not that he would know what that meant. Regardless of the true nature of his question, the answer was always going to be the same.
"I don't know." With that, I began to walk away, but then turned around for one last comment, "your second girlfriend- she was pretty hot." He smiled at me... for the first and last time.
"Yeah, she is"
And that was it.
Now? Who knows what happens next? I'm certain I will not be seeing Melanie again. Obviously I didn't have some form of epiphany and suddenly realise I didn't care about her- no, quite the opposite, I came to realise that as long as I held out hope that something might develop between us, I would always crave her attention, so to combat that, even if she does contact me again, I will make every effort not to indulge her, because it would just be prolonging something that will only cause me more dissatisfaction, and besides- she doesn't care about me in that way- I may as well flog a dead horse, that's a very morbid saying, and I've never liked it, but I must admit it accurately conveys the point I’m trying to make.
In the end- I suppose I’m happier. I've learnt some things too- I’m too quick to judge, and it isn't my right to judge anyway... I mean sometimes people need putting in their place, but who am I, with all my flaws, to do so? Also, if I’m to look for love, which I do believe, despite the odds, I will eventually find, it will probably be better not to come across so... me. Who knows? Maybe that hot, Asian, second girlfriend of Metro's will be my future lover? I can dream!
For some reason this whole experience has left me with one resounding emotion... something which I don't fully understand... hope. Maybe I will look her up after all. Maybe things will go well. Maybe we'll connect. Maybe we will talk online for a while, and then I’ll ask her out on a date, and we can have some words over coffee.
Fin... or something.
Fin... or something.