The following is a story recounting events that took place at a bar in Blowing Rock, North Carolina. I’m well aware that I look like the bad guy in most of this, but everything comes together in the end.
I was on another waterfall adventure and had ended my day by hiking the Glen Burney Trail in Blowing Rock. Having not eaten anything since breakfast, I walked over to The Town Tavern at about 5:30 to get some food. The place was packed and I got the last open table.
Once I was seated, I immediately noticed a couple on a date sitting at the table diagonally across from me (at roughly 2 o’clock if that sort of visual helps you). My initial focus was on the guy because everything about him pissed me off. For starters, he looked like Patton Oswalt if Patton had starved himself for 3 weeks and then auditioned for Jamie Kennedy’s role in Malibu’s Most Wanted. For you Millennials out there, he looked like a bloated Ry Doon.
I need to point out that Patton had a gray track jacket resting on the back of his chair. His jeans were baggy. His black t-shirt was three sizes too big. He had what looked like a gold duck call dangling from a gold chain around his neck. But the most infuriating portion of his attire to me was the backwards black leather baseball hat he was wearing.
What made it even worse was that he was talking to his date about all the money he was making. The problem was that I was pretty sure he did not have a good grasp on the definition of “a lot of money.” For example, and I quote: “The couple thousand I got from teaching went a long way.”
Two things are wrong with his statement: First, I don’t know what he was teaching or who let him do it, but they should be fired. Second, I know teachers don’t get paid nearly enough, but I do know they make more than a “couple thousand.”
So then I turned my attention to the girl, who was probably the most beautiful woman I had ever seen. She had long blonde hair, a perfectly sculpted face, long legs – she was perfect, like a mix between Taylor Swift and a young Kellie Pickler.
At that moment, I began to wonder why life was so unfair at times. Here’s this guy, who’s clearly an absolute douche canoe. Yet he somehow managed to get this insanely hot girl to go out with him. And then there I was. Eating wings by myself in a bar after hiking all over the mountains all day.
But then something happened. I watched as the girl handed Patton her phone and made him take a picture of her holding her wine glass as she looked off into the distance like she was some kind of supermodel. I then noticed the Pam Anderson-esque bicep tattoo on her arm. At that instant, I hated her and actually began to feel bad for Patton. I completely jumped to his side when she began taking pictures of him using different filters on SnapChat. I watched the joy and love slowly disappear from his eyes, replaced by despair and the realization that this was by far the best he was ever going to do, but struggling with the decision as to whether or not he could keep living like this.
I wanted to believe in a scenario where, five years ago, Patton stood at the edge of a cliff preparing to jump off and kill himself before a tiny voice in the back of his mind convinced him to step back – that things weren’t so bad and that they’d get better. And then at that moment, sitting with this hot blonde as she shoved her phone in his face, he regretted ever listening to that voice.
Despite wanting to continue watching this train wreck, I was interrupted by the woman behind me asking if I was pulling for Duke or UNC in the basketball game later that night. She was clearly tanked already (or kind of slow – she was slurring her words and was speaking slower than a stroke victim). She said Duke was going to destroy Carolina, and I responded by saying it was possible because I don’t know what to say in situations like that. She then went on to tell me that she had been waiting for over an hour on her date, who seemed to have stood her up. I remarked that it sucked because I DON’T KNOW HOW TO SMALL TALK .
“I don’t understand it,” she said. “I try to be a good person and do right by the world. But the world don’t seem to wanna to right by me.”
I nodded and turned back to my food hoping she was done with her monologue. When I looked up to continue eavesdropping on Patton’s date, the couple had disappeared and I was left to the rest of my wings and the family at the table directly across from me with a kid who had a severe speech impediment where his Rs and Ls sounded like Ws. “I was gowing so fast that I cwashed into this wittle guwl and my skis fell owf.”
But of all people in that bar – I could relate to that lonely Duke fan the most. Is believing in the idea that being a good person inherently entitles you to reciprocated good fortune such a ridiculous concept? Or are some people just predisposed to get dumped on for eternity, with the only good they experience coming as a result of the things they do for themselves?
At the end of the day, I know I’ve done everything I could do to be a decent person and to make everyone’s lives around me better. I know I’m not anything particularly special, and if the New World Order rises and decides to drastically reduce the population to only the most talented and necessary people, there’s a good chance I don’t make that cut. But sometimes its nice when good things happen to you when you least expect it rather than constantly working to make yourself happy.
Case in point – I got a dozen free doughnuts at Krispy Kreme later that night because their card reader went down just as I went to pay. So sometimes there are happy endings.