After lunch with the Denver kids, Alex dropped me off at the airport. Due to a miscalculation on my part, I suddenly had 2 hours to kill. I think we all know what that means.
I checked my bag and discovered a large, decent looking bar with plenty of mellow looking people and a huge wine list. I found an open barstool, pulled out my book and ordered a glass of wine. The bartender, “Cory”, appeared to be fabulously Native American, and showed no emotion as he swished his long black hair off his huge shoulders and poured beer from the tap. I opened my book and pretended to read.
I pretended to read for two reasons, the first being that I’ve already read this particular book but enjoy pulling it out on occasion and re-reading a chapter or two. The second reason is because while I desperately long to be a confident, mysterious woman sitting alone at an airport bar, in reality, I’m a big nerd.
I eavesdrop and sneak looks and judge. I rarely actually read.
A guy about my age sat one seat over to my right, chatting away on his cell phone, and there was another empty seat to my left. Guy on the right’s conversation was Superbowl based, so I focused my hidden attention upon Cory and his blasé reaction to everything and everyone. I got the impression Cory'd worked at an airport bar for years, had seen it all and was over it. Suddenly, two 40-something men came up behind me.
“Hey, babe. Can we have these seats?”
Oh my god. Did a strange man just call me babe? In the year 2006? It sounded so out of place, I almost didn’t react. However, I realized he meant the empty seats on either side of me, and the prospect of being book-ended by 2 guys who call random women “babe” was unacceptable.
“Oh, certainly. Let me move over.” I said, as I scooched to my right, closer to cell-phone Superbowl guy, and let the sexist men from the 70’s have seats together on my left.
I moved my jacket, my bag, my book and my wine to the right and immediately pretended to be re-engrossed in my book. Needless to say, the ordered low-end beer and seemed to instantly annoy Cory.
The cocky one, the one that called me “babe,” furthest away from me piped up. “Whatcha reading? Fabio?”
His friend right next to me appeared mildly embarrassed, but giggled.
I looked up. “What? You mean my book?”
“Yeah. You readin’ som Fabio shit, right?”
Oh, this was too good. Like Dixie Carter in a particularly feminist episode of Designing Women, I felt a rant coming on. I was alone. I was in Denver. And I’d had a glass of wine.
I glanced up at Cory, now cleaning a beer glass and watching from the corner of his eye, and looked back at the assholes.
“Is that what you think? Any women –well, any woman that knows how to read- has her nose stuck in some cheesy romance paperback?”
“Hey, I’m just askin’, sweetheart.”
“No, seriously. Let’s discuss this. Would you say that to this gentleman?” I motioned to the guy to my right. “Or do you just ask women stupid questions. I mean it. I can’t believe you just asked me that. Fabio? Are you out of your mind? Who asks that?”
They found this hilarious. “Aww, lighten up, sweetheart.”
“I’m just saying, guys. Not every girl reads poorly written smut.”
“So then, what are you reading?”
I flipped my book closed, revealing the morbid cover of Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood.
They erupted into hysterics, the silent giggler right next to me finally speaking. “Oh shit, Joe. She’s going to kill you.”
I took a sip of my wine and sat back on my stool, thanking my fucking stars I’d pulled this from my bag instead of The Devil Wears Prada.
“Hardly Fabio, fellas.”
Cory re-filled my glass and gave me an unexpected smile.
The cocky bastard leaned over. “I’m Joe.”
“It’s odd to meet you, Joe. I’m Beth.”
Silent giggler turned shyly. “I’m Mark.”
They asked my the standard and unoriginal airport questions. Where are you going? Why were you in Denver? Oh you’re from San Francisco? You know any gays?
They’d also ordered food, and I declined their kind offer of a “bite of brisket." I threw my nose back into my book and proceeded to ignore them. Eventually, they’d downed their brisket and beer and were off to catch their flight to Chicago.
Class acts, they didn’t even grunt goodbye.
I glanced around, almost sad I didn’t have some sleazy men to banter with, and picked through my book.
I looked up to find Cory standing in front of me, his massive frame refilling my glass again.
“That was fuckin’ awesome…”