Crystal had a hipster look that I liked right away: ripped jeans, untucked plaid shirt with rolled up sleeves, Harry Potter glasses, and a gray felt fedora. Her straight blonde hair fell just below her shoulders. She was tall and looked like an athlete.
I picked her up close to midnight outside a popular bar.
“How’s it going?” I asked.
“Alright. I think I just got dumped.”
“Yeah. It’s my girlfriend’s birthday, too.”
“And she dumped you?”
“Well…I guess I dumped her.”
“You didn’t take her out on her birthday?”
“No, I did. She’s right back there at the bar.”
Just about then Crystal got a phone call from her girlfriend. The girlfriend was pretty drunk, I guess, because the conversation didn’t make much sense. Eventually, she gave the phone to someone else and Crystal explained what was going on. Sort of.
Apparently the girlfriend said some unkind things that bothered Crystal enough to chase her off. She was going to another bar a few miles away.
She was quiet a while after the phone call. Then she started furiously texting. I didn’t want to bug her. She was having a rough night. Eventually she put the phone down.
“I really like your hat,” I said.
“Thanks. I hate that bar,” she said.
“It’s just a douche bag bar.”
“I know a lot of military hang out there.”
“Yeah, but I’m in the navy, so that’s not the problem. It’s just…a douche bag bar.”
“And Kelly’s is better?” That’s where we here heading.
“That’s where most of my friends hang out.”
“And the other place is more your girlfriend’s kind of place?”
“Yeah. And it’s her birthday, so…”
“Right. So you have different sets of friends?”
“Yeah, and there’s this chick at Kelly’s that I work with. She’s jealous or something. So that set her off. But I’d never date someone in the navy.”
“No. I used to be married to one.”
“You were married? For how long?”
“About a year. Till she cheated on me. With a guy.”
“Wow. That’s bad. So, you’re divorced now?”
We talked some more about her struggles with her ex-spouse and her current girlfriend. She was hurting, but more ironical than emotional. Like she was the victim of some cosmic joke.
Just before we got to Kelly’s, she said, “Okay, you really want to feel sorry for me?”
“I already do. But what do you mean?”
“My first girlfriend–the first person I ever really loved–before the girl I married–died in a car accident.”
I realized this was the second time I responded that way, but what else do you say to something like that?
“Your first girlfriend died. Then you divorced your wife after she cheated on you. Now you’re breaking up with your current girlfriend? You haven’t had much luck with relationships. I’m sorry, Crystal. I really hope things get better for you.”
“People always tell me that things couldn’t get worse. But they can.”