It was a slow afternoon at the bistro today. I decided to join the kitchen crew and perhaps catch up on today’s news. The heat from the oven would take the chill away at least. Outside, the temperature was a bitch due to the relentless downpour since yesterday afternoon. I flipped open the papers and began to scan the headlines.

Just then Fernando walked in.

“Hey guys, I am so sorry. I have to cancel on you. Suzanna couldn’t pick the kids up tonight. So I’ll have to be there before 7 and will probably have to baby sit the whole evening” he said apologetically.

We let out a sigh of disappointment. Fernando always makes good company. It’ll be different without him. But that’s the way it has to be. He and his wife have been separated for 2 years and they take turns with the kids.

“No worries. You can join us another time.”

“I can’t believe this is happening!” Marcia our head waitress stormed as she pushed through the kitchen doors. She is due to start her shift in a couple of minutes.

“What’s wrong dearie?”

“How could he be so insensitive?” By he , we know she meant Jason, her current love interest. What could be the problem this time?

“You know how much I’ve been planning for this weekend. Well, he just told me he is not going to make it after all.”

“It happens sometimes dear. Did he say why he can’t make it?”

“He has been called to be on stand-by and they could need him anytime. But that’s not what I’m frustrated about. Emergencies happen. Nothing much he can do about it. So I don’t blame him for that. I’m just upset that it doesn’t seem to bother him that our date is not happening anymore.”

Uh-oh. We all know how Marcia is. As head waitress, she can control her composure to near perfection. So when she looses it, we know she has reached her limits.

“He has this…distant…couldn’t-care-less attitude about the whole thing. He literally shrugs it off and said it was fated!”

We decided it’s best to stay silent and let her vocalize her frustrations. She needed that.

“When I tried to ask if there is any other way we can work around this, he accused me of demanding too much” she said in exasperation. “You know the way he is. He doesn’t like to have to explain himself.”

Oh yes….Jason can be confusing sometimes. He’d expect Marcia to be able to read his mind. No…actually I don’t think he cares if she understands him at all. He just does what he likes and leaves Marcia to figure out the details.

“Marcia darling….you already know how he is like don’t you?”

“Well yes…but that is not an excuse to behave carelessly.”

(in whispers) She is finally getting it.

“I mean, how would you feel if you’ve made plans with your partner for a weekend getaway and have even changed a few of your own schedules to meet that. Then all of a sudden he comes and tells you he can’t make it. If you’re a normal person, you’d wanna know why don’t you?

“Uh huh….” we answered in unison.

“You seriously won’t just say, “oh…no worries dear” and leave it as that would you? Especially if you’ve got so much planned and been looking forward to it, even given up some of your other commitments.”

She waited for us to nod our head in identification…….and compassion. I stole a glace at Fernando and we exchanged a knowing smile.

“But all you hear from him is, “I don’t have to have a reason why I don’t want to do this anymore right? Thought you know me well enough to know that? Just go ahead with you alternative plans darling, if you have any. If not, you’d better make some now while you still have time. Stay cool babe….. learn to be like me. I’m already making mine. I’ll probably squeeze in some time to catch up with my mates that day. See, it’s that simple. And by the way, I think to make things easier in the future, may I suggest that you always have a back up plan when it comes to me, cos you know me ….everything is “tentative”. You know how my work schedule is, don’t you? And sometimes…..I don’t know, I just don’t feel like it ….or should I say, not in the mood? (that’s what “not having a reason” means). But I thought you’d know all these already. Why are you behaving like a martyr now? Nothing is certain with me my dear. If you didn’t know it before, know it now. That’s the way it is. Take it or leave it. But I assume you’d understand right? I mean, we’ve been together for so long, you should know that’s the way I am. You know the old saying…..old habits die hard. In the future, don’t expect me to explain why I can’t make it for our dates. I’m not an explanation type of person. It’s too tedious. Besides, I’ve never felt the need to. I just pretty much do what I want frankly.”

She paused to catch her breath.

“Now tell me honestly, how would you feel?” she said with indignation, hands on her hip.

I breathe a prayer of thanksgiving. Poor Marcia. She has put up with Jason’s crap for too long.

I’ve got the perfect answer for her. I pulled it out of the drawer and pushed it across the table to her.

She rolled her eyes, picked it up and turns it over.

Women Who Love Too Much by Robin Norwood.


(A fictional, waiter-style, conversation based on a real encounter.)