Recap: On Thursday, Shep arrived home from work to find his cousin, Lyle, drunk and depressed because he can’t find a job. So the next day, Friday, Shep got off early to take Lyle out for the evening, to cheer him up. Their first stop was a nearby Mexican restaurant, where they’re now discussing their recent breakups.
Shep sat back, looking at the ceiling. After a moment, he said: “I did love Cassie, you know.”
“I think so. It was more than a fling — to me, at least.”
“And to her? What was it?”
Shep hesitated a moment. “Probably not that much.”
“You don’t think so?”
“Not really, no. Not if I’m honest with myself. She was great and all, but … I don’t think she could love me. I think that’s why we came apart. I was falling for her as she was drifting away.”
“It takes two to tango.”
“Meaning what? That I pushed her away?”
“No — that you showed feelings toward her, and that it was up to her to reciprocate.”
Shep nodded. “Yeah. It helps to be on the same page. That’s what makes love so frustrating. The movies always portray it as two souls simultaneously coming together, but it’s hardly ever like that. Usually, it’s one heart aching for another, and the other heart never knowing — or never caring. I wish that’s how they’d show it, because that’s how it really is. Then we’d know what to expect with love, and we wouldn’t waste all our time yearning for the idealized version.”
“But that’s the point of the idealized version,” Lyle said. “It gives us something to hope for, to aspire to.”
“Maybe in the movies,” Shep said. “But in real life, it only gives us something to ache for, and to regret, as we settle for the next best thing.”
“What’s the next best thing?”
Shep shrugged. “Whatever we can get, I guess.”
A waitress approached their table. “May I take your order?” She looked at Lyle.
“Crap.” Lyle grabbed the menu. “You better start with him. I haven’t even looked.”
“I can come back.”
“No, don’t leave. Then it’ll be fifteen minutes before we see you again, and by then we’ll be tipsy from our drinks and pissed off because we’re starving.”
The waitress glared. “Are you questioning my work ethic?”
“I’m not questioning your work ethic. I’m just going by past experience.”
“Really? Because it sounds like you’re questioning my work ethic. I’ve never made customers wait more than fifteen minutes for anything — ever.”
“He didn’t mean anything,” Shep said. “He’s just tipsy and pissed off — that’s all.”
“I’m not pissed off,” Lyle said. “I’m just scrambling to find what I want. I didn’t realize we were on such a tight schedule.”
“Is this your first time eating out?” the waitress asked.
“Of course not.”
“Oh, OK. Then I can assume you have some inking of restaurant protocol. The reason we bring your drinks first is to give you time to peruse the menu. That’s why there’s a gap between the drink order and the meal order.”
“I’m well-aware of restaurant protocol. I forgot to look at the menu — that’s all. We were talking.”
“And that’s fine. Which is why I offered to come back when you’re ready. But then you chewed my head off and questioned my professionalism.”
Lyle shook his head. “I didn’t mean to question your professionalism. It’s just that I’ve been down that road before. If you decline the first-order offer, then the server makes you wait at least fifteen minutes before returning. It’s like they’re punishing you for throwing off their schedule.”
“It’s not to punish you. It’s to give you ample time to peruse the menu.”
“Fifteen minutes isn’t ample — it’s agonizing.”
“I wasn’t going to make you wait fifteen minutes. I was going to come back in five.”
“Like I said, I’m just going by past experience.”
“So one bad experience gives you the right to discriminate against servers everywhere?”
“I’m not discriminating!”
“You’re certainly stereotyping. You questioned my integrity based solely on your experience with another server.”
Shep raised his hand. “I already know what I want. Do you want to take my order?”
“Well, I don’t know,” the waitress said. “Your friend here still needs time to peruse the menu. I can come back in fifteen minutes to see if he’s ready.”
“Don’t come back!” Lyle said. “Just stay! I’ll know what I’ll want in five seconds.”
“Please — you can take my order,” Shep said. “I already know what I want.”
The waitress crossed her arms. “I’m not taking either of your orders until he apologizes.”
Lyle continued to read the menu.
“Well?” The waitress glared.
“Lyle!” Shep said.
Lyle’s head jerked up. “What?”
“Apologize to the waitress.”
“What?” Lyle frowned.
“You owe the waitress an apology.”
“What are you talking about? I’m trying to figure out what I want to eat, here.”
“I’ll come back.” The waitress shoved her notebook in her pocket and walked away.
“No. No!” Shep turned, waving his menu at the waitress. “I already know what I want. Please!”
The waitress disappeared around the corner.
Shep spun around to face Lyle. “Thanks a lot, dude. Now it’s going to be fifteen minutes before she comes back.”
“That’s what I said. That’s why I asked her to take your order first.”
“And I’m starving, too.” Shep dug in the basket in front of him. “We ate all the chips and salsa. There’s nothing left but crumbs.”
“The waitress will bring us some more.”
“Are you kidding? After the way you spoke to her?”
“I didn’t mean to piss her off. I just seem to have that effect on women.”
“Well, you better lose it, because I’m planning on meeting a woman tonight.”
“I don’t know who. Whoever’s out there when we go clubbing later.”
“We’re going to try to meet women tonight?”
“Of course we’re going to try to meet women tonight! That’s why single guys go out on Fridays. Do you think we’re doing this because I enjoy your company?”
“You just said we were going to drink. You didn’t say anything about meeting women.”
“Drinking and meeting women go hand in hand.”
“Not with me. You just saw how I spoke to the waitress — and that was after only one margarita.”
“Drinking gives you confidence, and women like confident men.”
“I need more than a drink to instill me with confidence.”
“Like a job, for starters.”
“Dude, can you forget about being unemployed, just for tonight? Women will judge a man by more than his job.”
“Yeah, like by his bank account. Unfortunately, working and money go hand in hand.”
“You need another drink. Your confidence is lacking.”
“Good idea,” Lyle said. “But after the way I spoke to her, it’s probably better if you flag the waitress.”