By Lee-Ann Khoh
“Why are guys such jerks?!” The young woman smacked her palm on the counter with a thunderous thwack.
Behind the bar, Evan spun around, startled and amused. “Can I get you anything?”
The woman blushed. “Sorry, I… um… Just a vodka tonic, thanks.”
Evan scooped ice into a glass and poured in the alcohol, silently watching the woman out of the corner of his eye. She absently raked her painted nails through her auburn-brown hair and sighed: The “Stood Up” Sigh. Evan had pulled enough shifts at the bar now to recognise it.
He added a lime slice and filled the rest of the glass with tonic water before placing it in front of the woman with a clunk.
“How much?” she asked.
“It’s on me,” said Evan. “You look like you need it…”
She smiled sheepishly. “That obvious, huh?”
“You get to see a lot from back here,” Evan shrugged, offering his hand. “I’m Evan.”
“Chelsea.” She shook it.
“Want to talk about it?” asked Evan.
“Sure.” He gestured at the near-empty bar. “It’s not exactly busy tonight and I’m a good listener.”
“Thanks, but I don’t even know you,” said Chelsea. Under her breath, she muttered, “For all I know you’re part of the problem.”
Evan thought about arguing, but decided it was best to keep his mouth shut and let her drink in peace. He certainly didn’t want Chelsea storming off into the night, or worse, suing him for sexual harassment. He busied himself by wiping down the bench and restocking inventory that didn’t need restocking, and was about to fix himself a Cuba Libre when Chelsea broke the silence.
“I want to know why guys lead girls on when they’re only after one thing.”
Evan let go of the lime wedge in his grasp and frowned cautiously. “Some guys want a committed relationship. Some don’t.”
“They should just say so, then.”
Evan raised his eyebrows. “You mean, like… ‘Hey babe, I just wanna hit it and quit it with you’?”
Chelsea started to laugh. “Maybe not quite in those words. But believe it or not, we aren’t all looking for our future husband in every date.” She knocked back the last of her vodka tonic. “It’s lying about it, promising to call when you know you won’t… That’s what I can’t stand.”
Evan filled his glass with ice and swirled in the rum and cola. “Everyone always says they want honesty but that doesn’t mean they can handle it. Maybe they just didn’t want to hurt you.”
“Don’t pretend you’re protecting me when you’re really just being a coward, Evan.”
Evan blinked at the rebuke, before recovering. “Sorry. Here.” He squeezed some lime into the drink in front of him, dropped two straws into the glass and pushed it towards Chelsea.
“What’s this for?”
Evan bent down to sip from one of the straws and smiled.
“I’d tell you but I’m just a coward.”
To his relief, Chelsea returned the smile. “Well, as long as you’re honest about it.”