I arrived at the brewery to find him already seated at a four-person table, his head buried in his hands. From the dent he’d managed to make in the oversized plate of nachos in front of him, I guessed that he’d been here for a while.
“Hey, buddy – I didn’t realize that you got here early,” I remarked, patting him on the back as I stepped around to sit opposite him at the table.
My friend Rich lifted his head up from his hands, blinking at me in confusion. “Early? I’ve only been here for a few minutes.”
I opened my mouth, but closed it again without speaking, as Rich reached out and scooped up a literal handful of nachos, cramming them indiscriminately into his mouth. That answered my next question, then.
“So, uh, I take it that the date didn’t go well?” I asked, once he didn’t appear in immediate danger of choking on his mouthful of chips, cheese, and ground beef.
“Hah!” Rich exclaimed bitterly. “We didn’t even make it to the date! I’m at the restaurant, waiting right outside, and I get a text from her that she’s canceling! I tried to see if she wanted to reschedule, but no – nothing! Not a word from her!”
I grimaced. “Aw, man, that’s rough. You think she pulled up, saw you, and then decided to leave?”
Rich froze, his eyes widening. “Well, now I do!” he wailed, lunging for the chips again. “Why would you say something like that!?”
I reached out and dragged the plate of nachos away from him before he could throw himself headlong into an obesity-related death. “Listen, Rich, you gotta get ahold of yourself!” I snapped at him. “Come on, it’s just one bad date!”
“Yeah, the most recent in a long line of bad dates,” he fired back, his hand chasing after the nachos as if it possessed a mind of its own. “Have I told you about Tinder? I’ve run out of dates on there, man! I’ve literally swiped through every single one!”
I thought about telling him that new girls were turning eighteen every day, but wisely decided against it. I did, however, catch the eye of a passing waitress, and managed to communicate through a series of gestures and blinks that I needed a stiff beer. “And what’s the problem, then?” I asked Rich. “You’re not getting them swiping back?”
“Not the ones I want to talk to, at least,” he complained, spitting bits of chip out onto the table.
For a moment, I considered the trap hidden in the fallen leaves of that last statement, but decided to ignore it. “Well, maybe the problem is with what you’re bringing to the table?” I suggested. “I mean, what about you makes the ladies go crazy over wanting to date you?”
Rich snorted. “Nothing, man,” he replied immediately. He leaned back, spreading out his arms. “Have you seen me?”
“Hey, come on, there’s…” I trailed off, trying to find some attribute. “You’re making decent money! That’s something!”
“So now the only ones who want me are the gold diggers,” Rich extrapolated from my statement. “Gee, thanks. That makes me feel a lot better.”
Fortunately for me, the waitress arrived with my beer, saving me from trying to think of another comment. I gave her a little nod of thanks before taking a sip.
“Look, all I’m saying is that maybe you ought to spend some time working on yourself,” I pointed out, once I’d taken a long sip of beer. “Maybe spend some more time at the gym, try to put on ten or twenty pounds of muscle. Pick up a new hobby, something outdoors that gets you a tan and some muscles. It’s a way for you to meet girls off the internet, and it’ll give you something to talk about with them as well.”
“Yeah, whatever,” Rich replied, but at least he didn’t sound quite as downtrodden now. He perked up as the waitress stopped by to ask if we wanted to order anything else at the moment.
“She was kinda cute, don’t you think?” he remarked, as soon as she’d moved past our table. “I’d totally hit that!”
At those words, I buried my face in my palm. “Oh, Rich,” I groaned. “You’re gonna be eaten alive by your cats, won’t you? That’s how you’re going to die?”
“Am not!” he retorted indignantly. “I’m allergic to cats!”