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“You know what?” Tara says to Stephen as they get ready for the crush of people that Burger Night usually brings. “I haven’t seen Champagne Mike for a while. At least a week. That’s like a year for someone else.”
“Oh yeah,” Stephen says as he shines a martini glass. “I forgot to tell you. Ben got pissed and reamed him. May take Mike a while longer to lick all his wounds.”
“Oh Lord,” Tara says. “What’s wrong with Ben? He’s been a real agitator lately. Kiki, Bullshit Billy, now Mike?”
“That I don’t know. I think it goes pretty deep. But I can tell you what happened.”
“It was early last week. Mike was in a good mood because the latest season of Downton Abbey just started. Or the latest series, as Mike reminded me the British call it.”
“Everyone loves that show, but Mike takes it to an extreme. But I guess it makes sense, him being a real Britophile and all. Is that even a word?””
“Anglophile,” Stephen says. “Anyway, he was in a good mood and decided to buy a round of drinks for the folks at the bar. It was early, there were only about six people here, all regulars.”
“And Ben was here?” Tara asks.
“Yes, but he wasn’t at the bar at the time Mike bought the round. He was sitting at a table in the dining room.”
“What? He never sits there.”
“I know,” Stephen says. “But he was hitting on that woman he calls Officer O’Neill. She was having dinner with another woman and he joined them for about 10 minutes.”
When the pretty redhead named Jess fell off her bar stool and cracked her head open on the slate floor back in October as a result of Steve and Lenny’s brilliant idea to have an extended happy hour, Officer O’Neill was the responding officer, arriving a few minutes ahead of the ambulance. Ben immediately fell in lust with her tight little body, and thinks her semi-regular appearances at Stenny’s over the last few months means he has a chance to bed her, in spite of their 25-year age difference and the fact she has never been anything more than polite to him.
“Oh, he’s delusional about her,” Tara says. “Ben’s a nice looking fellow for 60 but she’s out of his league.”
“I agree. But because he was in there, and not at the bar, Mike didn’t buy him a drink.”
“That’s understandable. More than understandable, actually,” Tara says.
“You think so, I think so, Mike apparently thought so, any rational person would think so. But Ben went fucking ballistic when he came back and heard that Mike had bought a round and excluded him.”
“What did he say?” Tara asks.
“Melissa was here too. She could probably tell you word-for-word, she has a great memory for stuff like that. But it was something like You knew I was here and was going to come back, so what a fucking douche bag thing to do.”
“Did Mike respond?”
“Oh, he sputtered around, tried to get Ben to see it wasn’t intentional, that he didn’t know where he was or if he’d be back blah blah blah. I do remember him telling Ben that he was gobsmacked at his reaction.”
“Did Ben know what that meant?” Tara asked.
“Not sure, but clearly he recognized it as one of Mike’s British phrases and went completely off the rails,” Stephen says.
“I don’t even want to repeat it. That’s how bad it was.”
“Worse than when he called Kiki a See You Next Tuesday?”
“Yes, much worse,” Stephen says.
“Knowing Ben, he was probably pissed that he made no headway with Officer O’Neill.”
“I think that’s right. He did calm down pretty quickly, he even apologized to Mike. Sort of.”
“Ben almost never apologizes. Sees it a sign of weakness,” Tara says.
“Well, it was lame. Just muttered Sorry and sat down at the far end of the bar.”
“What did Mike say?”
“Nothing until Ben was out of earshot. Then he said Sorry doesn’t butter the parsnips.”
Tara laughs, hears the side door open, and greets the first customer of the night, Stan the Nut.
If you like this story, please check out my completed book, “Butts in the Seat”; one reviewer said it was “amusing, entertaining, and provides therapeutic value.”