I switched to Manhattans to dull the last month and talked to Bobby as he moved smoothly and parallel to the widescreen mirror above the bottles. He was polite, and seemed to be a little more tired than his smile let on, and it was idle talk, really, but it was much better than sitting on a couch twenty-six miles away, watching winter crawl slowly over the hillsides. Everything was white and gray and quiet, and I had to get out of the house.
I asked for Maker’s, and he questioned the vermouth, which, without, the drink was nicer than what I used to make at home, but had more bite. I thought about the balance of these elements, and the first drink went down moderately. I wasn’t in a rush. We laughed about working extra jobs, and shook our heads at people in general. For some reason, it’s always a little more bearable when you know others also have to do a lot more than they’d like.
Maria from Rochester sat down and had a beer while she looked at the menu. She was in town for a week to train for a position she scored back home. I liked the way she said “Rah-chestah.” She was late forties, pretty, and she took care of herself. She smiled broadly, and it was obvious she liked to talk, so Bobby and I offered our opinions of good places to eat. We were appalled that her co-workers had sent her “to a gas station for lunch” (Cahn you believe that?). After a few drinks, the big thoughts came out, and we group-pondered the intricacies of work, play, love, and life in general. Maria’s husband called to make sure she was okay, but she made him wait for a few minutes before she called him back. “I called him earlieh, and I didn’t get him, so now he’s gotta wait for me,” she smirked. She talked about her sons, the importance of family, and how to really make relationships work. “I’ve been married twenty-seven years to him,” she said, smiling, as she picked up her phone and waved it.
“I love him to death. We have a nice life. We don’t always get along, but nobody does. That’s one thing younger couples don’t always get; you don’t constantly get the other person. Not all the time. We learned to pick our battles, and when we’re upset, we have it out, and then that’s that. You know you’re in love? You say what needs to be said, you pick yourselves up, and you keep going. It’s not easy, but it’s not as hard as people make it out to be.”
She had a lot to say about almost everything, and before it was time to call it a night, I thanked her for her time and for the conversation. “I hope you enjoy the rest of your visit here; we could use more like you in these Pittsburgh bars.”
On the way home the promised snow came in at a slant. I turned off the stereo and listened to the snow under my tires as I felt the weight of time passing.