So there I was…my ankle broken and trapped in metal jaws designed to catch a bear. I had stumbled into it while trying to take a leak in the middle of the night while camping alone in the Ozark mountains. After screaming my lungs out for help, struggling to open the trap, I started hearing something crashing through the woods that let out a loud roar.
“ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!” I shouted, “A BEAR!?”
I realized there was only one way to escape in order to get back to my tent to get the gun to protect me from the bear. I pulled off my shirt, tied it tight around my lower leg and pulled out my bowie knife from it’s sheath.
The bear was getting closer now. I could hear it crashing through the bushes, just past the line of trees where my tent was set up.
I aimed carefully and raised the blade high and gathered all my strength to make a single blow that cut through skin and bone and free me from the trap before the bear appeared.
But I was too late. Suddenly, the bear broke through the underbrush, rushed across to my prone position, raised up on it’s back legs and let out a horrible roar.
“I said, I’m going to use the restroom and be right back. I’ve got a perforated bladder and can’t go long without peeing,” the woman standing in front of me announced a bit too loudly.
Okay, really, I was on a date at a coffee shop with “Gloom Girl.” But I now knew what it felt like for a wolf to gnaw it’s own paw off to escape when trapped.
There are rare times in people’s lives when everything is so bad that you can’t find one happy spot in it. Just that ‘one thing’ to be grateful for.
My coffee date with “Gloom Girl” was one of those events where I could physically feel the energy being drained from my soul. No matter what subject was brought up, it was followed by negativity, anger and sadness.
I pride myself on helping others help themselves. I love cheering people up when they are down. I thrill at giving optimism where there is only fear.
But as the saying goes, “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink.” Sometimes people need to wallow for a bit. I do. But I usually sequester myself and don’t inflict my Eeyore attitude on others.
No, this coffee date had already heard nearly 40 minutes of how bad her job was (and she worked for her dad from her own home), how much trouble her kids were, how bad the traffic in town was, how bad television shows were, how bad the COFFEE WAS, fer cryin’ out loud.
I tried to broach other topics. Movies? “Don’t ever get out to see them and don’t have time to watch them at home.” Okay.
I treaded gingerly on the next topic. Religion?
This began a long tirade of how the church she went to weekly was so bad. How hypocritical members were. How she and her family were not treated well. How ALL religious people should suffer. The strange thing was, that I found myself defending a few churches and religions I wasn’t even a fan of!
I could not find ONE SINGLE happy topic. Not flowers. Not weather. Not food. Not life! I had tried to ask about gratitude for any area and that had started a whole new line of complaining.
As soon as she entered the bathroom, I whipped out my cell phone, and texted one of my best female friends, “Diamond Girl,” a single word: hellfire. She would laugh and know things weren’t going well.
While “Gloom Girl” took care of her bladder problem, I refueled my coffee and glanced at the clock. I had made the mistake of saying I had the entire afternoon free before we had met and was regretting that I hadn’t said I had a time limit.
Who knew it would be this bad?
Sitting back down at the table and staring out the window, I thought to myself even though I was single at the moment, I was damn lucky to have my friends, family and health. I mean…REALLY lucky. That when I drove down the road, the traffic didn’t bother me. That I COULD stop and smell the roses even when my wallet was thin and a can of coke was a luxury I couldn’t afford for the day.
How do people get to the point where they can’t see one good thing in life? And the only thing I could think of was ‘fear.’ That by hating everything you never want for anything. And never wanting and trying for something, you never fail at achieving your dreams.
How often had I failed? And how many times had I succeeded? More often than failing, I can assure you.
Maybe I had something to change the topic to after all.
“Gloom Girl” returned and before she could begin telling me about whatever tragedy may have befallen her in the ladies room, I asked her a question.
“So, what’s something you’ve always wanted to do and haven’t tried yet?”
A quizzical look came across her face as if she didn’t understand the question. Her eyes started to dart around as if sifting through her memory for some lost dream. She began fidgeting in her seat. A gleam came to her eyes as you see in a small child hears the words “Santa Claus.”
But just as fast as it had appeared, it was gone. And with it, the simple comment of, “I’ve pretty much done everything I wanted to do. Most of it disappointing.”
I slumped back in my chair defeated.
“Have you seen the price of gas lately? I swear….” her voice droned on as the café door opened and a woman carrying a small child walked in and made a bee-line towards our table. She stopped next to my coffee date who was suddenly, blissfully silent. “Gloom Girl” looked up at the woman standing there. I shifted in my seat.
The woman finally spoke in a low threatening voice, “What the hell are you doing here with my husband?” The woman looked at me with fire in her eyes and said simply in heated hushed tones, “You need to come home NOW.”
“Gloom Girl” shot a look of panic at me as I grabbed my things and simply mouthed, “Sorry.”
Once outside, I breathed a sigh of relief, turned to “Diamond Girl” and her son and said, “Thank God for friends!”
“And the hellfire maneuver,” she replied grinning from ear to ear.
Maybe you think I was cruel. But maybe I gave her one thing to be thankful for. She didn’t get involved with a married man or get her butt whooped.
© 2009 Eric Huber. The Single Guy is a work of fiction (even if the events seem familiar to everyone). All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.