Vanessa was escorted from the bar to my vehicle by an imposing dude in a tight T-shirt who gestured to me to put down the window.
“You make sure you get this young lady home safe, you hear me?”
“Of course. That’s what I do.”
“Just know that if I find out anything funny, I will hunt you down.”
I laughed because he was kidding. Right? He was stone-faced.
“Nothing to worry about, bud. I’ll take care of her.”
“You be sure you do.”
“Oh, my God,” said Vanessa to her protector, “You are so ridiculous.”
The GPS voice told me to take a left out of the parking lot.
“Don’t go left,” Vanessa said. “Go right.”
“Are you sure?” I said.
“Yes, I’m pretty sure I know where I live at.”
She was drunk and salty, but not ugly. The GPS told me to make a U-turn.
“Don’t listen to that whore. Stay straight.”
“Don’t you talk bad about my GPS voice. That’s my girl.”
“Okay. I didn’t realize you were so loyal.”
“Well, she gets me where I need to go. I count on her.”
The GPS continued to tell me to turn around. I verified that Vanessa had entered the right address.
About five minutes down the road, Vanessa said, “Actually, we are going the completely wrong direction. You have to turn around.”
I laughed aloud at that.
“See? You were bad-mouthing my girl and she was right all along!”
“Okay, I f–ed up, so just shut up about it. Your GPS was right. But she’s still a whore.”
I laughed and shook my head.”
“So, Brian, tell me about yourself.”
“You want to know about me?” I asked.
“I’m not that interesting. I’d rather hear about you. That’s what I like about driving for Uber. I want to hear people’s stories.”
“You don’t want to hear my story.”
“Sure I do. I get all kinds of stories. Funny stories. Sad stories…”
“Sad stories? You get a lot of those?”
“Well, not a lot percentage-wise, but yeah. This is a sad world.”
“You should just tell those people to suck it up and get over it.”
“No, I don’t tell them that. I just listen.”
“Well, you should. Suck it the f– up and get on with your life.”
“Well, maybe I’ll try that some time. See how it goes.”
“So what’s your story, Vanessa?”
“My story. I’ve got four kids and two jobs and it’s wearing me out.”
“Huh. I’ve got four kids and two jobs too.”
“You’re a liar.”
“No, seriously. I do.”
“You’re a liar.”
“Why would I lie about that?”
“You’re just trying to outdo my story. You’re making it up.”
“If I was going to make something up, it would be a better story than that. I’ve got four daughters: Stephanie, Taylor, Kerri, and Madison. Stef is getting married next month.”
“You’re a liar.”
We were stopped at a light, so I opened a family photo on my phone and showed her.
“Look. Here’s proof.”
“Aw. Your wife is so pretty. I like her.”
“I like her too. I think I’ll keep her.”
“Your daughter’s getting married? And you’ve been married the whole time? Just one wife?”
“Yup. We’ve been married twenty-eight years.”
“Twenty-eight? Wow. That’s amazing. She give you some good loving?”
“You’re a liar. Nobody has good sex.”
I thought it would be good to change the subject real quick.
“So, four kids. How old are they?”
“Three, six, eleven, and twenty-one.”
“Wow, twenty-one. You don’t look old enough.”
“I was seventeen. He’s the love of my life.”
“What kind of work do you do?”
“I sell real estate. And I wait tables. But these days I mostly just wait tables.”
“Real estate business bad?”
“No. I’m just trying to get through my divorce without losing all my money. The money’s too good in real estate. As far as he’s concerned I’m just making two dollars an hour as a waitress.”
“So, you’re worried that you’re going to have to pay alimony?”
“Yup. I will. The a–hole never made any money. Wouldn’t get a job. That’s why I’m divorcing him. Well, and because he’s a total a–hole. I totaled up how much money he made the whole time we were married and it’s less than what my 21-year-old son made.”
“That’s pretty bad. I don’t have whole lot of patience for men like that.”
“Me neither. That’s why I can’t make too much money until the divorce is settled. It’s been a year and a half already.”
“You’ve had to live on less income for a year and a half?”
“Yeah. Listen, I’m not a bitch, really. If he had a job and I just made a little more money than him, I wouldn’t mind paying. Seriously. It’s just that he’s such a f–ing lazy a–hole. He just wouldn’t get a job and I don’t see why I have to keep supporting him.”
“It makes sense to me. It’s a pretty sucky place to be though. I’m sorry.”
“It’ll all work out. Geez, I can’t believe I just told you my whole life story like that.”
“I told you. It happens all the time.”
I was tempted to tell her to suck it up and get over it. But I didn’t.