How’d That Work Out For You?

This might surprise you but Wendy’s is not where I go to meet men. I don’t actually go anywhere to meet men since I’m contentedly in a relationship but I can tell just by the way you’re looking at me, you’re not going to bother yourself with that kind of detail. So, just so you know, if I were looking to meet a man, I wouldn’t go to Wendy’s. If I’m going to be perfectly honest, which I am, when I go Wendy’s it is to indulge myself in the kind of greasy, guilt-laden, fatty goodness that my boyfriend and most everyone else I know turns their nose up at; if I’m extra lucky they’ll even hand out one of their trusty lectures about the brutality of the life of the cow I just ate, or the preservative and chemical laden nature of the french fries. I know these lectures, I have a couple of my own, in fact, but I’m also an emotional eater and when I’ve been struggling with pain for weeks and woke up in tears because I couldn’t face another day of it, I’d rather not hear the blah blah blah of why what I’m about to eat is bad for me, the environment, and the world as a whole. I just want to eat it. In peace (at least until the guilt hits).

So then, if my appearing here alone has somehow confused you and your pudgy friend over there, I am sorry. I’d guess from your behavior that you were raised to believe that a woman all by herself anywhere is just waiting for the kindness of your attention, perhaps those are the lessons you learned at hunting camp or maybe you watch too much TV. I’d guess, rudely I’m sure, by a glance at the sagging jeans exposing a stomach churning plumbers crack that you definitely watch too much TV.

I saw you see me before I even made it in the door. The jerk of your friends chin making you turn your head and watch me walk across the parking lot and into the restaurant. I’m not easily intimidated and so making eye contact wasn’t difficult for me. It’s amazing to me how many of your type fail to recognize at this moment that I’m not smiling. It’s equally amazing how many times I’ve heard that I shouldn’t have made eye contact in the first place. Apparently there’s this baffling belief circulating around that men will stare and be dogs and women should just do their best to ignore it. Lucky you, I’m not that kind of girl.

I try and give you the benefit of the doubt. I do have half of my head shaved after all. I probably don’t look like any girl next door you’ve seen around here and I remind myself of this in moments like these. People like to stare at what is different.

But when I get my tray of comfort food deliciousness and turn to find a seat, you and your buddy are still taking turns staring. He leans forward to say something and you turn in your seat to run your eyes over me again. Do you see you right now? Actually turning your body in your chair so that you can look over a girl you don’t know. I shake my head and find a seat, opening my computer and enjoying my first bite of the salty sticks called french fries.

Maybe I should have sat with my back to you, but the glare would have made the computer screen nearly impossible to read. On the other hand, maybe I shouldn’t have to find a seat that takes into consideration your rude inability to keep your eyes to yourself.

Your friend is still murmuring, the both of you are laughing, and you keep turning yourself around to find my seat. It’s more than I can take. Finally I lift my head and clearly meet your gaze. This might be your second chance to notice that I’m not smiling, if someone hadn’t convinced you (wrongly) that you are somehow God’s gift to solo women. You don’t notice, of course. My unsmiling, level gaze has encouraged you in some unexplainable way and now you’re pulling your expansive body from the table and lumbering toward me. Great.

I take a deep breath and turn to look at you as you stop beside my table. I’m smiling now, but only slightly and only because my mother raised me to be polite to strangers.

“Hi there,” you say, with a glance back to your friend. I might have taken a moment to, once again, let you prove me wrong in my assumptions of your intent. You could be interested in who cuts my hair, I suppose, or maybe you know my brother. But the way you’re resting your dirty hands on my table and leaning over me, the way your gaze seems just a little south of well-intentioned, well, we both know where this is going, don’t we? You turn from your friend to me again and smile, self-assured.

“Do I know you?” I respond, with as much of a smile as I care to muster.

“No…” and you’ve got something else to tell me, probably your name or why you came over to bother me or maybe even why you’ve been so rude as to stare at me thus fa r.

“I didn’t think so,” I interrupt. “Have a good day.” And with that I am done, my gaze back on my computer, a french fry to my mouth. You pause for a minute and I hope you’ve run out of things to say. I can tell my face has turned to stone and that anger has reddened my cheeks. You think better of hanging out and are, instead, left to the task of strolling away from my table in a way that makes you look good to your laughing friend. Our little game is over and I know, of course, that everything about that exchange has made me the bitch. It’s a role I’m comfortable with.

I have to wonder, gee, what that as good for you as it was for me?

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