I’m a fan of social media. The lack of intimacy in the interaction with people via social media means I feel irreverently comfortable expressing my cynicism and general loathing of people via sarcasm, without the repercussions you would experience should you do the same thing face to face.
For example, I feel assured that if I decide to tell a girl I barely know from my high school days that she should stop posting half-naked pictures of herself on Facebook because- let’s face it- she isn’t really all that pretty, that there will be no consequence in my day to day life. Sure, I may have people delete me, or block me, or maybe even send me a nasty message, but at the end of the day, who cares? Words mean next to nothing when it comes down to it, especially via Facebook.
Twitter is very much the same. Unless you are a celebrity, or a person of note, in which case, Twitter has the power to destroy your career if you decide to make any bold, sweeping statements. I’ve seen it happen, politicians and celebrities alike getting virtually bludgeoned to death by the masses of followers who disapprove of their antics. It can be quite amusing at times I suppose.
The point behind all of this, is that whilst I remain utterly confident communicating via any social media sites, I find myself sadly lacking in that regard when it comes to talking in person.
The responses I would usually give pop up in my mind, but I don’t have the confidence to verbalise them, mainly because there is no certainty that I won’t get a slap across the face or a fist in my gut. I much prefer a swift poke, which can easily be returned, with no hard feelings.
Also, whilst I am by no means a popular guy, I imagine that if I did say all the things that came to mind, it would not take me long to become a social pariah. Walking down the street and pointing out each imperfection is a perfect way to get yourself killed. ‘Smoking those cigarettes is so cool; it takes my breath away, but not as much as it does yours! No, but seriously, you’re gonna choke and die.’ Maybe you think I’m a total dick. Maybe you are right, but if overexposure to the internet doesn’t lead to cynicism, I don’t think anything would.
So, you can imagine, when I got a message from an old friend asking to meet up, face to face, I became somewhat anxious. We had a lot of history. Melanie was my high school love, who never loved me. To top it all off, the friendship we did have ended rather badly, after she had dated a string of numerous douchebags who treated her like shit, and I decided to tell her as much after she was left broken-hearted; again. Maybe it was insensitive of me, but after years of that kind of psychological and emotional torture, your patience starts to wear rather thin.
If she had said: ‘hey, let’s have a catch up on Skype’ I would have been in my element. Instead, I have to go meet her for coffee, and all those old emotions, and all the things left unsaid are going to be running through my mind. There is little chance of me avoiding the encounter however; it was bound to happen sooner or later.
I arrived early, and found myself a good spot, on one of the comfy sofas, rather than the purposely uncomfortable wooden chairs. I know that before long the place will be full of people, and these people will be forced to sit on the uncomfortable chairs, and will immediately begin searching for a new seat. They will glare over at me spread out on the cushions and feel nothing but envy and loathing towards me. Isn’t that brilliant? I especially enjoy the moment when a group decides to vacate one of the comfortable spots. People then swarm to lay claim to the newly open booth, it really is amazing how low a person’s priorities can drop when in a coffee shop.
After waiting an uncomfortable amount of time, especially with the people leering at me for taking up a double sofa booth by myself, I began to wonder whether she would turn up at all. Of course, my doubts were misplaced; she wasn’t going to miss this for the world.
I caught a glimpse of her approaching the entrance of the shop. My initial reaction was a mixture of both anxiety and happiness, but that was soon replaced by plain horror and disbelief. There was someone with her. There was a man walking behind her. Who the hell was he? What was this guy doing with her? Who the hell was he? What the hell was this?
As she got closer, I could see her more clearly. She looked amazing; far better than she ever did when we were friends. She had become plumper, but that was definitely a good thing, she was always on the skinny side, and she had a habit of wearing a little too much makeup, but now she seemed to have settled for a more natural look, and it suited her perfectly. Here is an example of what I was thinking as she walked towards me:
She is incredible, oh god, I didn’t bother to make any effort- oh Christ- who the hell is that guy? What is he doing here? She looks so good, why has she brought this guy with her? I’m not going to be able to do this, oh crap, oh shit, oh god. He is huge, goddammit, why? Is this really happening? She looks so beautiful- she is getting closer- oh god-
“Hey!” she opened her arms to embrace me.
“Hi!” I cried out, mimicking her tone as best I could. I managed to embrace her with the same enthusiasm.
For far too long, she didn’t acknowledge the guy stood beside and slightly behind her. She simply stared at me, as if waiting for me to notice him, so she could then introduce us. I may not be good at talking, but I’m just fine at keeping my mouth closed, so I didn’t say a word and simply returned her gaze. Eventually, once the shop had closed and re-opened once more, the mystery man gave a little cough, and that seemed to wake Melanie from her reverie.
“Stephen, this is Metro.”
How I managed to stop myself from bursting into hysterics at this point is beyond me.
“Metro” she repeated, slightly louder, as if it was my hearing that was the problem, not the fact that he was named after the underground.
“I see, nice to meet you.”
I go to shake his hand, which he somehow interpreted as a fist bump. I mean- who actually does that anymore? However, this inevitably resulted in me grasping his fist with my hand and shaking it enthusiastically. For some reason, I didn't stop shaking for quite a while, but then again he did not seem to object either. I still consider this to be one of the most awkward moments I have ever had the displeasure of experiencing. One thing I did take from the encounter however, is this:
Clearly Metro is a few carriages short.
“Can I buy you a coffee?” I turned to Melanie, as I felt somewhat more comfortable addressing her than the towering beast of a man who stood in front of me.
“You can do- skinny latte please, and Metro will have a hot chocolate, he doesn’t like coffee.”
I resisted the urge to ask Melanie whether Metro is actually able to speak, or whether he simply communicates through a series of grunts. Perhaps he uses binary code? Although that would require some understanding of numeracy.
I realise at that moment that I am judging this guy I have only just met because of my feelings towards Melanie, so I dialled back my hatred of him for the time being, in the unlikely case that he may actually have turned out to be a decent human being. I went to the bar and asked for a skinny latte and hot chocolate- small- no cream- perfect. If they could have made the hot chocolate without the chocolate I would have asked for that- but then it would just have been water- and I’m sure even Metro would know the difference in taste- no Stephen, stop it!
I do not remember agreeing to buy Metro a drink, but I was in no position to argue, the guy was bigger than me. He had a five o’clock shadow on his face, he was probably about 6’5- I imagine- and was wearing jogging bottoms and a tank top, or a wife beater as they are sometime known. Then came the moment when I brought them their drinks and I sat down opposite. I can’t help but feel that the whole situation would have been much easier had she not have brought her ‘companion’ with her.
“So, are you guys-“
Interestingly, it was Metro who spoke this time.
“Yes- we are.”
“You didn’t let me finish- I could have said anything from that point- I’m pretty sure I was gonna ask if you guys were members of a suicide cult.”
Melanie laughs, Metro glares at me.
“You always did have a wicked sense of humour, Stephen!”
“And you always had an adorable laugh.” Goddamnit! I still cannot believe I said that, but the words were out, I said them. Shit! I didn’t want her to know I had any admiration for her, of any kind.
She blushed slightly.
“What, are you still in love with her?” Metro then demands, clearly unimpressed with my compliment.
“I- What? No!”
“Good! Because if you were, I would have to break your legs!”
I needed nothing more to go on, this guy was an asshole, a first class douchebag in every sense of the word, and I hate him now as I hated him then; with every fibre of my being.
“That won’t be necessary.”
“It better not be.”
“Metro, calm down, yeah?” Melanie soothes.
She seemed somewhat embarrassed, although not nearly as much as she should be having this dick by her side, she is trying her best not to show it, but I can tell. She brought him along for a reason, and that reason was to show him off, and make me feel inferior, she wanted to prove that I was wrong when I said she dated dicks, and no-one else but dicks. If that is what she is trying to do, she had already failed miserably. I said the word ‘dick’ three times in that paragraph; but I stand by it.
“So how have you been?” I ask, trying to restore some sense of normality.
“I’ve been well, I’ve just finished my first year at uni, I’m studying law-“
“-And that is where I met Metro, he was such a charmer-“
I think I may have snorted at that point. In what world was he charming? In the prehistoric era, I imagine he was, by far, the most charming specimen out there, but not now, not in the modern world.
“You’re studying law?” I interjected, before she had any chance to tell me any more of the origin of their relationship.
“I thought you were always more interested in hair and beauty?” (Not just in terms of her career)
“I was, but I decided that would never work out, so I went for something more professional.”
“So what do you plan to do with your law degree?”
“I’m not entirely sure yet.”
“So- hold on- you thought getting a law degree, for which you have no future aspirations to utilise it, would be more realistic than completing a health and beauty course, and working in a salon or hairdressers?”
“What is he talking about?” Metro asked, clearly my use of big words had perplexed him and he needed some explanation. To my enjoyment, Melanie ignored him and instead addressed me.
“I knew people weren’t taking me seriously when I spoke about working in a salon- I wanted a little respect.”
Metro, evidently understanding he was not needed in the conversation, decided to take a large gulp of his hot chocolate right at that moment, the key word in there being ‘hot.’ He didn’t want to display any form of pain however, as that could be construed as weakness. So instead he held it in. His face went bright red, his eyes became bloodshot, and streaks of chocolate dribbled down his mouth. I can now truly see how Melanie could refer to him as a ‘charmer.’
“You okay there, big guy?”
It took him some time, but he eventually managed to mutter something that sounded like ‘fine.’ I have to hand it to the guy, it was impressive the way he held it in- it didn’t look pretty- but then the two things are not necessarily synonymous with each other. Again I had to fight the desire to burst out laughing. Maybe it was because I was so nervous, or maybe it was because watching this guy simply be was just downright hilarious. Perhaps it was a bit of both.
“And what are you doing now, Stephen?” Melanie asked me, again completely ignoring Metro.
Now- I’m not ashamed of my job by any means, but I knew it would be met with mockery from Metro, not that I care about that necessarily, any jokes he could make about my job would no doubt be the basest and most idiotic puns I would ever had the misfortune to hear, the kind of jokes that pop into your head right away, but you dismiss them, because they are so bad they would get a laugh from pity alone, but would get nothing from an actual humorous standpoint. My point being, whilst I’m decidedly neutral about my, let’s be real, average and somewhat dull job, I don’t care to be made fun of because of it, even if it doesn’t really mean anything to me. Therefore, when this question came up, I was somewhat reluctant to answer her, although I knew- of course- that I would.
“I’m an IT consultant.”
Metro snorted, although in my remembrance of the scene, he erupted into full blown hysterics and I threw the contents of my cup into his face. Then from nowhere, there was an unusual peak in my confidence.
“And what do you do Metro?”
He gave me a blank look, I’m assuming he was taking his time to process what I had just asked; apparently questions aren’t his ‘thing.’
“I work at the gym on the weekends- I’m an instructor.”
Of course he was.
“Of course you are,” I said, “That must be so intellectually stimulating,“ I finish.
Melanie snuggles up to him, wrapping her arms around his engorged bicep.
“He’s doing a physical sciences course at the moment, and when he finishes it, his parents are going to help him open his own Gym.” She gushes over him disturbingly.
“Wow- that- that is really something.” At this point, I couldn’t control my laughter any longer, and I actually let out a few chuckles before pulling myself together again. When I looked up at them, Melanie seemed bemused and Metro was staring at me with
“Sorry- do you even lift?”
“Did you really just use that phrase without a trace of irony?”
I don’t think he knew what irony was.
To be fair to him, I couldn’t give a dictionary definition, but I sure as hell know what it is. I’m pretty sure he threatened me again after that, although I forget exactly what the threat was- it all became a blur of trying my best to ignore metro and trying to be civil with Melanie. Overall the experience was decidedly uncomfortable, awkward, and sometimes amusing when Metro decided to chip in. I do however, recall how the meeting ended.
Metro had finished his hot chocolate without further incident, and had proceeded to work his way through several muffins, which- he made sure to inform us- he would work off later that afternoon. I shared one with Melanie. When I say shared, I mean, I had a couple of bites, and she helped herself to the rest of the muffin without question, despite being the one who insisted that we ‘share.’
“So-“ Melanie began, clearly building up to something, “the reason I wanted us to meet up is so that we could reconcile, I didn’t like the way things ended between us- so I wanted to make amends.”
“Yeah, so I thought we could just get together and apologise to each other-“
“We both said some pretty dumb, hurtful things, and I think if we just say we are sorry, then we can go back to the way we were.”
“Listen, Melanie- I’m not going to take back what I said- because I don’t think I was wrong in what I said.”
“Yeah- I mean- sure I wasn’t particularly good at putting across what I wanted to say, and yes, I may have been insensitive about it, and I may have been hurtful, and for that I am willing to apologise, but the essence of what I was trying to say- well- I stick by it. You kept getting hurt, and it wasn’t anybody’s fault but your own, and I couldn’t just sit there and watch it happen to you.”
“Wow, okay- well- I don’t know where we go from here.”
“Neither do I,” I admitted.
“You don’t need this twat, Melanie.” Metro decided to advise at that point, and he was right, she didn’t need me. Some part of her wanted me to be in her life again, but she didn’t need me, and she never would.
“Okay- well then, I guess this is goodbye.”
“I guess so.”
“Thank you for the coffee, Stephen, it was nice seeing you again.”
And that was it. They left. Metro made sure to give me the finger when Melanie wasn’t looking, but that was that. Which brings me to the point I am at now: sitting in front of my computer screen with Melanie’s Facebook page on it. There were things left unsaid during that meeting, and I sure as hell need to say them before we part ways for good. So… here goes nothing.
I delayed for quite some time. I stared blankly at the screen for about half an hour, I’m sure that isn’t unusual, I know people who do nothing but stare at screens- it seems to be their life.
Strangely- in the end- I didn’t even need to message her. She popped up before I typed anything.
Mel: Do you think I’m a bad person?
Interesting- I could definitely play this to my advantage.
Me: Terrible- what kind of a person has a skinny latte?
Mel: Don’t joke; you know what I mean…
Okay- she wants to be serious- I can totally do serious.
Me: I don’t recall ever calling you a terrible person Melanie, why would you think that?
Mel: You may not have said it in so many words… but you may as well have said so.
Is that really how I came across?
Me: Well let me put your fears at rest- I don’t think you are a terrible person, and I never have…
What word to use? Stupid? Stupid is too harsh. Silly? Silly is too gentle. Idiotic? Idiotic makes her sound like she believes Asia is a country. Goddamn- come on! You are better than this!
Me: …Good at making bad decisions? Sure. Misguided? Definitely… but never a bad person. I don’t believe you have it in you to be bad.
Oh god, she is taking a long time to reply… I thought I came across as ambiguous, was I too harsh? Have I done it again? Repeating history was fucking stupid- and cliché too. Oh- she’s replied.
Mel: Misguided… in my choice of men?
Mel: What was wrong with Metro?
She cannot be serious. I mean- seriously- she cannot be serious.
Me: You serious?
I become aware that serious now doesn’t even sound like a word anymore. I guess an explanation is in order.
Me: Did I not mention he was named after the underground?
Me: I didn’t?
I didn’t? Shit! No, I just thought about it.
Me: Well my apologies- I was wrong- he’s a newspaper: http://metro.co.uk/
Proud of myself? Yeah- I’m proud of myself.
Mel: Haha, alright, aside from his name?
Me: Honestly… you don’t see the faults in him?
Mel: ALRIGHT! I GET IT!
Maybe I overdid it- just a tad.
Me: Fine- honestly- do you want me to list them?
Mel: If that is what it takes.
He dresses like a douchebag.
He looks like a douchebag.
He acts like a douchebag.
Mel: Are you sure you aren’t just envious of him?
Goddamn you Melanie, you just set me up for this shit.
Me: Wow, Melanie- you got me- you caught me red handed. I AM envious of him, I am so, so jealous. I just wish I could be as clever as him, and as cool. I just wish I had his natural charm and wit.
Mel: I noticed you missed out looks.
Low blow Melanie, low blow.
Me: Fine- he is a better physical specimen than me, he has a better body and he is better looking- is that what you wanted to hear?
Mel: It is nice to know you have some humility.
Me: Humility? When have I ever given you the impression that I am anything less the a humble soul?
What is she even talking about? I’ve never been a cocky individual- not like her beloved Metro.
Mel: I’ve seen what you do to people on Facebook, I’ve seen how you bring them down, you think you are really clever knocking people down a peg or two?
Wow, here I am talking about how my actions online have no consequence in my day to day life, and here we are- evidence to the contrary. I feel pretty shitty about myself- but that’s okay, time to fight back.
Me: Have you seen the people I ‘knock down a peg or two’ do you really care about any of them? They deserve to be hung up to dry- get it? Peg? Washing line?
Yeah- god, I’m a complete twat. Did I really just write that? Fuck me!
Me: Okay- look- do you want me to apologise for what I’ve said to people?
Mel: No, I just always thought better of you.
Me: When did this become an attack on me, exactly?
Mel: Probably when you started attacking my boyfriend!
Me: First of all- I would never do that- have you seen that guy? And second- I’m pretty sure you asked me to tell you what I disliked about him.
Stephen! Stop with all the smart-arse bullshit!
Me: Okay, I’m sorry.
Mel: It’s okay, I’m just having a bit of a crisis, and I thought seeing you again might ground me or something… I don’t know.
Me: What do you mean?
Mel: I’m just having trouble figuring out what I’m doing with my life you know? I’m not sure what I’m doing anymore.
Me: The whole law degree thing?
Mel: Jesus Stephen, you wouldn’t believe the amount of fucking work that goes into a law degree! I’ve never been so stressed in my life…
Me: know I asked this before, but honestly now, why did you change your career choice?
It’s a while before she answers, and I find that I’m genuinely curious as to what she has to say, and find myself even somewhat concerned about her future.
Mel: You know what people think of girls who do beauty courses don’t you?
Me: I have a good idea.
Mel: I don’t want people to think that I’m some dumb bimbo who doesn’t care about anything other than manicures and hair extensions.
I sigh deeply.
Me: Melanie, I never saw you that way, I mean sure, you took a lot of care and pride in your looks, still do I imagine, but that does not mean you are that kind of person, you know what I saw? I saw a girl who was following her dreams, not some idiot who has no other options, if you wanted to do that, and it made you happy, why should you give a fuck about what anyone else thinks?
Mel: Thank you, Stephen.
Those three little words seem to mean so much. Why?
Me: You’re welcome, Melanie.
Me: BTW, I’m assuming you are actually good at hair and beauty- because if you aren’t, well then, ignore everything I just said :P
Mel: Want me to come round and do your makeup some time?
Me: I don’t know- will it make me prettier than your boyfriend?
Mel: Never. xD
We actually have some back and forth going on, this is good right? But- I’m going to have to bring the tone down- again.
Me: You know he is no good for you, don't you?
There is some delay this time.
Mel: I don’t know, Stephen-
Me: All joking aside, apart from his name- and my Jesus fucking Christ- it is a goddamn stupid name- I mean seriously- Metro? Were his parents’ tube dwellers?
I’m straying from my point again aren’t I?
Me: What I’m trying to say is, you’ve never had anyone who has been even remotely on your level, emotionally or mentally. Metro is just the same- yes he’s buff, and yes he is good looking, but all he really is… is a sack of shit decorated with daisies.
Me: Ermm… I don’t really know why I chose that particular image to demonstrate my point. I’ll be honest I don’t think a sack of shit is made all that more appealing if decorated with daises. It just sounded good, okay?
Me: Sorry. Again.
And now I wait. I wonder why I still care so much, why I am going to such lengths to try and sabotage this relationship of hers? Is it because I still have feelings for her buried somewhere deep down, or is it simply because of my burning hatred of Metro? Probably a bit of both- god- could I really still have feelings for this girl? I thought I was over all this shit.
Mel: I don’t know Stephen- sometimes you have to take a leap of faith.
Me: Well how many leaps of faith have you taken Melanie? And how many times have you fallen flat on your backside?
Mel: I’m sorry, Stephen.
Me: Sorry for what?
Mel: For hurting you.
Oh God, no.
Me: It’s fine Melanie, it’s not your fault.
I need to think of something to stop her on this path she is heading down. Quickly! Quickly!
Me: Listen, It’s not my place to dictate your life, if you want to see Metro that is entirely up to you, all I ask is that you listen to what I say and take it on board, because- I still care about you.
Now I really should go.
Mel: Oh, okay, well thank you Stephen.
Mel: Speak to you again, soon?
Mel: Okay, bye then x
Me: Goodbye, Melanie.
Fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck!
Should I have put a kiss? goddamn, it's too late now! I don't even know anymore!
You let your guard down Stephen, and it bit you in the ass, well done! It would seem that I do- in fact- still have feelings for Melanie, even after all this time, and all these years, and everything I have learnt, I still care. I think this probably calls for another coffee meet. Maybe this time, she can leave her heavily muscled newspaper at home…
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.