I had the ring in my pocket; my plan was to pop the question over dessert--if I could wait that long. And the setting was as perfect as the joy in Helen's eyes . . . until he walked in.
270 pounds of flab in a suit that looked like he'd worn it every day for two years. Wheezing from his cab-to-front-door stroll like he'd just run a marathon. Hair like an abandoned bird's nest. In retrospect, I should have asked for a new table when he was seated next to us.
The staff was all over him like he was some hotshot movie star. Orson Wells, only bigger and more full of himself. "No menu," he said. "Bring me Scotch, a whole bottle. Tomato bisque. And a deep-fried leg of lamb." He moaned loudly as the waiter ran off. Then he looked at me and said, "What are you looking at, loser?" To Helen he said, "You can do a lot better than this fuck, honey."
Mercifully, his bottle of Scotch arrived, distracting him. He chugged a quarter of the bottle and then grunted like a rutting water buffalo. Helen was looking at him with pure disgust, like he was some mutant hog who'd just climbed out of a vat of raw sewage.
The gargantuan slob took another swig and howled like a wolf as his soup arrived. He groaned and fell face-forward into the tomato bisque and came up looking like the angry sunburned ass of a Hamadryas baboon. I glanced at Helen. She was heaving like a dog preparing to puke up the roadkill possum it ate two days ago.
Suddenly, from out of nowhere, a devastatingly handsome gentleman with muttonchops came up, forcibly escorted the bloated ox-creature out of the restaurant, and returned, taking his table. Then, as if I weren't even there, he turned to Helen and said, "I'm Evil Editor. I know of a more romantic place, if you'd care to join me?"
The nerve of the guy! And she went with him! I couldn't believe it. I sat there in a stupor, feeling angry and deceived and screwed . . . and yet at the same time, feeling wildly jealous . . . of Helen.