“Excuse me?! What the fuck is THAT supposed to mean,” Alex screamed at me.

“Babe, babe…calm down, I -”

“Calm down? Fuck you! I make you dinner every night, I keep your apartment clean; notice that’s YOUR apartment not MINE! I listen to you complain about your piece of shit job day after day but god forbid I complain about mine at any point!”


“And then after all that you give me an ultimatum?! A fucking ultimatum?! Fuck off you piece of shit! I can’t believe I just wasted 2 years of my life on such an asshole,” and with that Alex barreled out the door.

It hadn’t gone well, that was obvious, but give her a day to cool down and she’d come around. I hadn’t phrased it well for sure, but that reaction had been a bit much even so. I’d go visit her tomorrow and smooth things over.

Alex and I had been together for almost two years after meeting through a mutual friend. We loved each other but also had our spats here and there; nothing like this, but some pretty loud discussions. Alex had just graduated with a biomedical engineering degree when we had met and I had instantly taken to her because of her intelligence and sense of humor. Her gorgeous figure and adorable button nose with a smattering of freckles hadn’t hurt either. Shortly after we started dating she got a job and then realized she hated everything about her day to day. She had quit shortly after and began talking about going to grad school for something entirely different. In the meantime, Alex had gotten a job cleaning and doing housework a few days a week for a few wealthy families in the area for minimum wage. It was a temporary job that had become a little longer than temporary. I had tried to subtly push her towards the next phase of her life but she hadn’t gotten the hint, and thus, my blunt approach had been born. Sure I may have insinuated that I’d leave if she didn’t move on from her temporary job but I had meant that as more of a motivator than an actual ultimatum. Ok, fine, I’d fucked that up horribly. I decided I would spend the next 24 hours figuring out how to get through to her and then everything would be fine.

The next day I took a deep breath as I pulled into Alex’s apartment complex and threw my car into park. I made my way up the stairs and knocked on her door. I could hear talking inside and strained to hear if it was the TV or someone visiting; if she had someone over this probably wasn’t a good time to discuss our issues. I started to turn around to leave when the door cracked and Alex’s face appeared. It took but a second for her face to change from curiosity to complete detest at the sight of me.

“We have nothing to talk about. Leave me alone.” She said

“Babe, I…”

“Don’t call me that, I’m not your babe anymore.”

“Sorry. Alex, can we please talk? I didn’t exactly explain myself well yesterday and I just want you to know where I’m coming from.”

Her voice started to escalate and I cautiously looked around to see if anyone was watching as she opened the door fully and launched into another tirade.

“Where you’re coming from?! I really don’t give a fuck where you’re coming from. I spent so much time trying to make your spoiled ass happy and then you repay me with all this bullshit?! Fuck off! I don’t even know -”

“What’s going on? Everything ok?” Came a voice from deeper in the apartment.

I looked over Alex’s shoulder to see a shirtless guy wander into the living room from the bedroom. It took but a moment to realize Alex was wearing cotton shorts and a tank top with no bra; an outfit she always threw on after sex to lounge around in.

“Everything is fine, just some asshole trying to make me feel shitty about my life choices.”

Now it was my turn to feel betrayed and pissed, “Oh my bad, I try to push you to be more ambitious and you go fuck someone?! Not exactly the ‘go get it’ attitude that I was looking to inspire! Jesus Christ, one fight and you go running off to get pounded by someone else?! Are you fucking kidding me? Fuck the last two years I guess. Have a great life, and enjoy cleaning up after people that did something with theirs.”

I stormed off leaving her standing their fuming and shocked. Even when we had argued in the past I had never raised my voice or thrown verbal barbs like that and it had clearly taken her off guard. Good. That bitch could rot in hell if all it took was me pushing her to live up to her potential to run off with someone else less than 24 hours later. The whole ‘cleaning up after people that did something with their life’ comment had me a tad conflicted as I got in my car. It was a damn good line so I was proud of how it had left her dumbfounded, but it was probably too harsh which made me regret it just a bit. No, fuck that, she can deal with it and talk it over with whoever she’s fucking now. Not my problem anymore.

Over the next few weeks I went from pissed about the betrayal, to depressed that I was now alone. Most of my friends had moved away after graduation and I hadn’t really made many new ones since, so that left me with very little to do. I got into a rhythm of coming home, ordering some shitty delivery food, and binging Netflix shows the rest of the night; it became my reality and I rarely strayed from it week after week.

Eventually I became bored with the delivery options for food; having run through the gamut many times over. It was only in my frustration of having nothing new to eat that I made the decision to go out one Wednesday night. I had planned on ordering food and watching the playoff game, but I figured I could walk to the bar a few minutes away, grab a few drinks along with dinner, and watch it there all the same.

Half an hour later I saddled up to the bar, picking a chair directly in front of a TV with the game on it and away from everyone else. A minute or two later the bartender came over and asked if she could get me anything to drink. I was engrossed in the game and barely glanced away from the TV as she walked up before doing a quick double take. She was gorgeous; not in your typical ‘wow she’s stunning’ way, she was objectively very pretty, but something about her short circuited my brain on sight. She immediately became my kryptonite. I couldn’t think straight; hell I couldn’t think curvy either. My brain completely shut down as I stared into her encapsulating brown eyes. I felt the panic rising from my stomach up through my chest as I realized she had asked me a question and it was getting awkward that I hadn’t answered or even made an attempt at saying something yet. In my panic I blurted in a rushed jumble of sounds “uhhh, canIgetaminutetothinkaboutit?” Smooth, well played, she definitely didn’t pick up on the sheer panic you had felt from trying to order a water.

“No problem! I’m Kim, so just flag me down or yell whenever you’re ready!” She responded with a smile that made my heart twist itself into knots.

Holy shit what was that? I need to get out of the house more, I can’t even order a water and a jack and coke from a woman all the sudden. I mean, she’s beautiful, but it’s a water and a jack and coke, how hard is that to say without looking like an idiot?

I spent the next few minutes regaining my composure and flipping through the menu to figure out what I wanted to order for dinner. I had abandoned the game and was lost in my own head trying to sort out the knot that my insides had suddenly become. Finally I decided it was time to face her again and attempt to salvage as much of my dignity as possible.

I caught her eye; her gorgeous, soft, deep brown, intoxicating eye, and made the most awkward half wave, half come hither motion I could possibly have devised and felt the panic begin to rise as she walked towards me.

“Figure out what you want?”

“Uhh, yeah, umm, a water and a, um, coke with jack in it please,”

A coke with jack in it?! It has an official name dummy. Even kids in high school say jack and coke. What a debacle.

“And can I also get a buffalo chicken wrap?” I managed to spew out.

“Sure! Good choice by the way, I love that wrap.” She responded cheerfully as she strolled back down the bar to put my order in.

She liked my order! Nice!…Yeah, nice chicken wrap order dummy, she totally loves you now. God I’m an idiot.

I spent the next few minutes staring at the TV pretending to watch the game, but really I was mentally abusing myself inside for my complete lack of composure at something as simple as ordering dinner. Eventually she brought over my drinks and asked if there was anything else she could get me. True to the theme of the night, I reacted as if she had asked me a calculus problem and spewed forth a series of umm’s before answering ‘no thanks.’ Nailed it.

I had to figure out what the hell was going on. What was it about this girl that was sending me into a drooling stupor every time she came within 10 feet of me? As she helped other customers at the other end of the bar I analyzed her from afar. It couldn’t be her personality, I didn’t know her, so it had to be physical. I had been around beautiful women before and never reacted even remotely like this so what made her different? She had wavy brunette shoulder length hair, nothing special about that; dark brown intoxicating eyes, brown eyes are the most common color out there so that’s not unique; an attractive face, fine but there are plenty of those; smaller seemingly perky breasts, maybe smaller B’s, not remarkable; thin figure, ok that’s nice but not drool worthy; a nice pert backside, I do appreciate that but it wasn’t like she was waving it in my face every time she came over; long legs in skin tight jeans, again, nice, but not worthy of how I’d reacted. There wasn’t anything I could pinpoint about her. Maybe it was the whole package? I was dumbfounded. Whatever it was, this girl had me doing summersaults inside.

I spent the rest of the night trying to pull myself together every time she walked over and, eventually, succeeded in having a normal interaction with her; granted that normal interaction was just me asking for, and then paying my bill, but hey, little victories are still victories.

Over the next three weeks I went to dinner at the bar every Wednesday and was pleased to find that she was there every time. I managed to stop stammering and acting like a total idiot and had normal interactions like a sane individual even though my insides were still churning. It wasn’t until the fourth week that we broke the barrier between strict ordering and checking out conversations. It was completely dead that evening and I was the only one at the bar. She was clearly bored with very little to do and lit up when she saw me walk in and sit down.

“Hey! I knew I could count on my new regular to bail me out of my boredom! Water and a jack and coke?” Kim asked cheerfully.

“You know it!” I answered happily, “I must say, I’m not sure if I want to be one of those guys that’s a ‘regular’ at a bar or not; although I suppose I’ve somehow found myself becoming one.”

“How come? It’s not like you’re one of the obnoxious regulars. You just come in, sit quietly, eat, and leave, nothing wrong with that!” She said as she slid my water across the bar at me and then headed to make my jack and coke.

“True. I don’t know, I guess I just feel like most people that are regulars at a bar don’t usually have a lot else going on and I’d rather lead a more interesting life than that.”

“Maybe some of them are like that, but those are the obnoxious ones. One of my favorite regulars in here owns a company that has a bunch of government contracts and he flies all over the world constantly, so I’d say he’s got more than enough going on and he’s still a regular.”

“Touché. I definitely don’t fly all over the world so I guess I’m the lowlife compared to him.”

“Haha well he’s also got like 30 years on you so don’t fret, you have time to land those government deals!”

“Oh thank god. Being labeled a failure at 26 was going to be devastating to my psyche. I would have had no choice but to become an obnoxious regular.”

“Hahaha! Please don’t, I have enough of those. I can’t imagine how many I’d have if I did this full time. I don’t know that I’d be able to handle it.”

“So what do you do other than this if this is just part time?” I asked

“I’m a graphic designer during the day and just do this 3 nights a week for some extra spending money.” She replied

“Oh nice! I almost went into graphic design actually but changed to electrical engineering last minute.”

“Haha those two majors are nothing alike! How did you manage to go from graphic design to electrical engineering?”

“Well, I always loved art in school and that side of me wanted to do that for a living, but I was pretty good in math, computers, physics, and that sort of thing and last minute I decided I could make better money in engineering and then art could be a hobby that didn’t get ruined by the stresses of a career.”

“Ugh, ain’t that the truth. I used to love carrying around a sketchbook and just doodling; now that sounds like work and I haven’t doodled for fun in over a year I’d bet. Good move on your part. I should have talked to you before I made my decision apparently.”

“It can’t be that bad! Staring at numbers all day can get really boring. At least at the end of your day you can hold something up and say ‘I created this.’ That’s got to account for something.”

“True. But it’s never the thing I wanted to create that’s the problem. The client always dictates what we can do to an extent and that’s where it’s frustrating.”

“Ah, the dreaded client. People suck don’t they?”

“Hahaha they really do! I mean…some do…a lot do. Some aren’t so bad! I mean you seem nice enough!”

I felt the heat in my cheeks as I blushed, “yeah, well, it’s easy to be nice when you’re sitting in a bar drinking and talking to pretty girls, there’s not a lot of stress in that.”

This time she blushed and made the most adorable bashful face.

“What happened to the guy that comes in, eats, and leaves without a peep? This is the most I’ve talked to you since you’ve started coming! Not that I’m complaining.” She said, changing the direction of the conversation.

“Yeah, well, I never want to take you away from work and stuff so I just sit quietly and eat. Tonight, well, I’m not sure if you noticed, but you aren’t exactly slammed.”

“Haha really? I hadn’t looked around. But really, even if there are people here you don’t have to be silent! You’re fun to talk to so don’t be a stranger in the future!”

We continued talking as I ate and had a few drinks. She was captivating. She had a bubbly personality, a great sense of humor, and seemed to be fairly intelligent as well. We got along great and I may have ended up ordering more drinks than I should have just to stick around and talk to her. At the end of the night I thanked her for the food, drink, and conversation and she reminded me not to be a stranger in the future.

From that night forward we grew into some weird version of friends that only saw each other at the bar. We had ongoing conversations about a variety of topics that would start and stop as she helped other customers and ran about doing her job. One night I told her about a movie I had watched the night before and how it had been one of the best movies I’d seen in a while and how she should definitely check it out. She said she’d never remember the title and gave me her number to text it to her. That single movie title text turned into texting regularly throughout the week after work, then little texts during work about clients or people being stupid, and eventually she even sent me a few pictures of designs she was working on to get my opinion.

I thought about asking her out but I didn’t want to be the guy at the bar that asks out the bartender. She was also way out of my league and I didn’t want to ruin the great friendship we had developed.

One Friday, a few months after that first night of talking, Kim texted me that she had been asked to fill in for another bartender and I should come up to the bar and she’d buy me a drink. Of course I accepted, and after work, rushed home to shower and change. I didn’t normally go to the bar on the weekend as it was pretty popular and got crowded quickly; and of course Kim didn’t normally work weekends so that played a large role. I got there about 8:30 in an attempt to beat the late night rush of the college students. I grabbed one of the few remaining bar stools and looked for Kim. The bar had a few bartenders working that night since it was bound to get crowded and I found Kim weaving her way between them carrying drinks to a couple on the far end. As she turned around I caught her eye and her and that big beaming smile bounded down the length of the bar to where I sat.

“Hey stranger!” She said as she began making me a jack and coke and pouring me a water, “How was work?”

“The usual, some good, some bad, some stupid.” I replied

“Haha well forget about the bad and stupid, unless it’s a fun story. Anything exciting on the good end of things?”

She really knew how to put me in a fantastic mood. I was ecstatic to be there talking to her and there wasn’t a place on earth I’d have rather been.

“Nothing too special. Got a raise and put on a fairly big project as the 2nd in charge which is kind of cool I guess.”

“Hot damn! That’s not ‘nothing too special’ that’s awesome! Congrats!”

“Thanks! What about you? Anything big or fun going on?”

“Not really. Work sucks, I’m thinking about looking for another job. I’ve been getting a fair amount of freelance work lately and I’m liking that a lot more than anything I’m doing at work.”

“Well, have you thought about starting your own company?”

“Yes…and it terrifies me, so I don’t think I want to do that.”

“Oh nonsense, you could totally do it! You’re super talented, you even said you’re getting plenty of freelance work on your own merits already. My parents both run their own businesses so I know a fair amount about it. I could help you get started if you want? It’s not near as terrifying as you think.”

“I’ll think about it. Gotta run though, I’ll be back when I can.”

“Sounds good!” I said as she darted back down the bar to a group of guys that had just sat down.

As Kim worked I grabbed a napkin, borrowed a pen from another bartender, and began writing down all the things Kim would need to start her company. I had listened to enough dinner conversations and also worked in both of my parent’s businesses enough to know how to start a company and what made them successful. By the time Kim came back I had 3 napkins worth of notes for her. As I handed them to her, Kim broke into a huge smile, “Seriously? You meant it when you said you’d help me?! I thought you were just being nice! This is crazy! Thank you! I’m not sure if I’ll actually do it but this is amazing either way.”

“I’m happy to help. I love business strategy and all the inner workings of how companies operate, it’s just a big puzzle to me.”

As I glanced over Kim’s shoulder my mood instantly dropped. Walking up and sitting down at the other end of the bar was Alex who was draped all over some guy’s arm. She was sporting an outfit that could be described in no other fashion than slutty. Her tits were pushed up and on display, she sported a crop top that showed off her flat stomach, a skirt that ended a little higher than mid-thigh, and boots up to her knees. She never used to dress like that with me and I suddenly felt the loss of our breakup creep back in along with a sad realization of what she appeared to have become after our split.