A tale of two restaurants.

I am waiting at the bar for a friend to arrive. There is a couple at the bar, likely somewhere in their 40s. The man is somber and stoic, staring at the television and making limited eye contact with his wife. The woman is throwing back martinis anxiously. Looking at her face, she has the kind of beauty that makes one "cute" when they are younger, but she's lost contact with those days. She's let herself go a bit, putting on weight and absently applying her make-up. The alcohol is bringing her back to the memories of happier days. She loves this man, but there is no longer any passion between them. They are only comfortable together when acting out their roles as seen by the eyes of the other.

She was once peppy, vibrant and full of life. She was the kind of girl who got excited about the big game in high school and might have even been a cheerleader. She still has dimples and her little nose. She's now talking loudly and almost randomly about thoughts that are entering her mind. This causes her husband to stand up at the bar, order a Coke for himself, and look at the other bar patrons as if to silently apologize for his wife's behavior. He pays no attention to what she is saying and is oblivious to why she is going on like this. He slaps a label of "drunkeness" on his definition of her for the evening. The expression on his face says, "Just got to get her home and to bed. She's out of control. I hate when she gets like this."

The alcohol intake is allowing this woman an excuse for releasing much that she generally suppresses in her everyday life. She's unhappy and bored with her life. Her job is boring and unfulfilling, but she's been there quite a while so a change is too difficult at this time. The man she is with ignores her much of the time and never wants to talk about anything "real." As she continues her random and emotional release of thoughts and feelings, draining another martini, she begins to smile. This is making her feel better, but tomorrow things will be back to "more of the same." She's gotten used to it, but she doesn't really like it.

Later, I move on to another restaurant with my friend. We are now sitting in Denny's and I am eating eggs and sausage brought by a tired young waitress. She's wearing a very thin wedding band on her left ring finger, indicating she is married, but the band is very small and there is no diamond ring. She is struggling in life, as is her husband, and she's been stuck working at Denny's for quite a while. They thought it was going to be easier when they got married. They were really in love when they decided to get married very young, and they still love each other very much but they are losing faith in themselves. He doesn't feel he is doing enough for his wife and feels guilty when she comes home late at night from serving food and coffee to drunks. She is always so tired. Sometimes he waits up for her, but lately he's been staying up less often.

I drove home.