The story you get later on is that apparently this guy’d been a regular here until he made a bit of a scene back in August, mounting a stool on his knees so that he could lean halfway over the bar with tears in his eyes, flagellating himself and asking the bar tender for her phone number, begging, until finally she relented and (as she tells you later on with lots of guilt and no eye contact) gave the guy a fake.
Which prompts a Eureka! moment in retrospect since the first thing the guy had said to her when he took a seat here beside you, after a high-pitched hello, was, “Hey how come you never answer your phone?”
Bar tender looks immediately pained but does a good job of holding herself together, keeping stride with her chores behind the counter, and she says to the guy, with a liar’s risen octave, “I haven’t heard it ring.”
The guy gets restless and emotional on his stool as though anxiety itself had walked out of a textbook and come looking for a drink and he says, “Oh come on,” and there’s anger in his voice, no question, but mostly just anguish.He isn’t yelling, but he’s getting pretty close, and people turn their heads.
He tries saying something to the woman studying on the stool beside him, suddenly almost crying again, but the woman’s on a tablet, earbuds plugged into her head, and so pretends not to notice.
He turns to you.
You keep reading.
He taps your shoulder. “Hey sir.”
“Can I ask you a question?”
You close your book and turn all the way toward him, blinking.
“Do I look stupid to you? Do I look like an asshole?”
Shake your head.
“Then how come I can’t get women to talk to me? This one.” He juts his chin with heartbroken vitriol at your busybody bar tender. “She likes you,” he says, “I can tell she likes you. But what’s wrong with me, then, that women hate me?”
He goes on: “It’s God, right? God hates me. That’s why he gave me this face.” He throws a gesture at his acne scars like to fling water from his fingertips.
The bar tender comes toward you again to start stocking the cooler and the guy says to her, “Hey, sweetheart, be thankful that you look like you and not like me. OK?”
Meek, small voiced, she says with her eyes in the cooler, “There’s nothing wrong with the way you look.”
Huffing, maybe crying, this man collects his things.
After the angry guy has left and the bar tender’s told you her side of it, about her guilt and motives and so on, she looks you over and laughs. You ask her what’s funny, and she says it’s your face.
“What about it?”
“You looked like you didn’t know what to do with it.”