Not Friends, Just Acquaintances

An awkward experience with an old friend

Posted in Musings on August 05, 2014

Old friends dine in close quarters. It wasn’t on purpose. Same place. Same time. Nothing more to it. Small talk can be painful. We tried. Or, I tried. In return? Not even one question regarding my current job, interests, goals. Nothing. Only, "Well...I’m going to go grab a beer.” Great. Nice seein’ ya.

Small talk can be painful.

We sit next to each other while waiting for our separate meals to arrive. I try to be a part of their conversation. I ask what’s so funny and am given a curt answer. Then she and her friend switch seats. No reason to attempt small talk now.

We wait for our food for too long. So hungry. So awkward. So antsy to leave, to escape to the solitude of home. The warm yellow walls and the new couch draped in grandma’s blanket. Where the hell is our food??

We watch as one table after another gets served: the hipster college couple; the overweight family of five gets their milkshakes. Soooo awkward. The waiter comes our way, quickly glances at the table markers, carefully avoiding eye contact with the diners. 

The waiter spins on his lace up Keds so fast his skinny jeans almost cause a self-induced wedgie.

“Excuse me! Hey man!” Eric in vain attempts to catch the server’s attention. The waiter spins on his lace up Keds so fast his skinny jeans almost cause a self-induced wedgie. His little pin-head bounces off into the sea of carnivores.

All I want is my goddamn burger so we can scarf and go. Those are ours. Gotta be. Two burgers, one with sweet potato fries. Yep, he’s comin’ our way. Thank god. So hungry. So awkward. Wait, what? He spins again on his Keds and turns towards the fat blonde and her mustached husband.

What is this? A half hour of this agony has passed now. The old “friends” are chatting and laughing to my right. They have scooted far into the booth’s corner, as far away from me as possible. They have no intention of inviting us to join them. No interest in what I’ve been up to for the past year. That’s ok. I’m over it. Just get us our goddamn food.

They have scooted far into the booth’s corner, as far away from me as possible.

Oh god. Thank god. Here it is. Ok, the ‘Dude’ for you, ‘Burger’ for me. What the?? No bacon on the Dude. Oh wait, what’s this? It’s limp and yellowish. Something smothered in sauce smashed between two sweet, slightly soggy Hawaiian buns. Mac ‘n cheese? Seriously?? And wait...that’s not a beef burger. Little black beans tumble out of the suspiciously crumbly meat. Sufficiently blackened to a crisp, you cannot tell what this patty is made of.

Eric sets down the faux burger, "Let’s go". I shove a few more sweet potato fries with ketchup (they forgot the special sauce) into my mouth and nod in accordance.

“Bye you guys!” I call out sweetly. “It was sooo nice to see you!” Three heads bob up and down, three mouths twist up into forced smiles: “I know! We need to get together! Soon!”

Wait. Seriously?? You can’t even stand to carry on a conversation with me for five minutes but you’re dying to set aside time for us to just hang out and catch up?? Really? You think I’m buying that shit? I smile and agree and wave a stiff goodbye.

Cars whiz by, oblivious to the horrendously awkward social scene that just went down inside the corner restaurant.

Outside it’s misting heavily. Eric and I walk arm and arm to the car. “Worst experience ever, all around bad,” Eric concludes. “Yep, terrible,” I agree. We walk hastily past the bus stop bustling with students and luggage, back from spring break. Two young guys try their luck with thumbs thrust out into the dark street. Cars whiz by, oblivious to the wet students, oblivious to the horrendously awkward social scene that just went down inside the corner restaurant.

We run across the street before the next car lights come into view. “Why can’t everyone just grow up??!!” I turn the key in the ignition, pull off the curb, and imagine home and a big glass of wine. The windshield wipers squeak as the rain comes steadily down. Not real rain, just a sprinkle. Not real friends, just old acquaintances, that get you just wet enough to ruin your night.