He was twenty minutes late. Thirty, if you counted the ten minutes I spent waiting to be seated. I tapped my fingers, I twitched. I gave up smoking ten days ago. To distract myself, I passed the time eavesdropping, my usual cynical occupation.
There were two women seated near me, their heads nearly together, intense, intimate. One was dark and beautiful, nearly fifty, sleek Manhattan chic, the other younger, but rumpled and wan, and somehow disorganized.
“Listen,” said the dark woman. “I used to go to happy hour every day. Then my one happy hour stretched to two, then three. Then I found I was still happy at four in the morning and drinking during the day to stay happy. It just got to be... happy all the time.” She watched the other woman, wanting to be sure she understood.
The blonde nodded, understanding on cue. “No one,” she said, “can be happy all the time.”
I looked down at the tablecloth and thought back over the last six months with Derek. A date here and there, then every week. Then we fucked, and there was no going back. Blinding orgasms, whole-body flushes every time I saw him. Tied up, tied down, gagged, spanked, licked, swapped. Phone sex at work, then sex at work after hours, then sex at work while I was supposed to be at a client meeting. Fired, laughing hysterically down the street, clinging to Derek, his come trickling down my thigh, that sinking unemployed feeling drowned in a quickie in a bar.
The two women near me began chanting the Serenity Prayer. I rose and left the restaurant. Outside, I lit a cigarette and smiled at Derek arriving in his limo.
Those women, I thought to myself, don't know shit about happy all the time.