I crash down onto my favourite stool, and say, "The usual, Frank."
Then it registers. It's not Frank behind the bar; it's some older guy, with wild grey whiskers and a dangerous gleam in his eye. "Usual?" he says.
"Predictable," he says, but pours it anyway.
"I need it," I say, "I'm having a hell of a time at home ..."
"Another story about a middle-aged man in a mid-life crisis?" he sneers.
"Yeah, well, what am I gonna do? I've been put down, I've been humiliated, I've been treated like dirt – "
"Too much passive voice."
"You think I should stand up for myself?" I think about it; he's got a point. "Well, maybe. But it's like the magic's gone out of my marriage – like I need to do something to bring it back –"
"This is all generalities. You need specifics, not vague 'somethings'."
Christ, he's really putting me on the spot. "Okay," I say, "I can maybe talk to her more – about her day, about her work – I can do little romantic things, buy her flowers –"
"This is taking too long. You need to develop the action faster."
He's tough, but I know he's right. I slide off the stool. "Okay," I say, "I'm outta here. She says I spend too much time here anyway. I'll go home, have a heart-to-heart with her, maybe we can both work through our feelings ... Thanks, fella. You might just have saved my marriage."
"Your marriage?" He looks surprised. "I was talking about your story."
"Well, whatever. You've been a big help."
I'm about to go out the door when he says, "Do me one favour, will you?"
"Sure. Anything. Name it."
"If you get an inspirational memoir out of this," he says, "submit it to someone else."