Sometimes all a girl needs is someone who will listen. And sometimes she needs a fire hose turned on her.
"Randy called last night," Allison casually says as she studies the menu.
"As in Randy, your ex-fiance?" I ask.
"He's in town on business," she says.
"As in Randy, who -- after you dropped 20,000 big ones on the dress, invitations and caterer -- dumped you for that waitress in Alabama?"
"He wants to get together for drinks," she says.
"Just so we're perfectly clear on this," I say, "we are talking about the same Randy who left you curled in the fetal position and sucking your thumb for six months?"
"His marriage isn't working out," she says.
"Al," I say, "if a piano were about to fall on your head, would you want me to center it so it would be a direct hit?"
"He's meeting me here at 8," she says. Squish.
Normally, I'm a live-and-let-live kind of girl. But after spending six months nursing this sick puppy back to health, I'm not about to let her sleep with a lying dog.
"Drinks," I nod.
"Just drinks," she insists.
"Al, Al," I tut, fingers laced and shaking my head. "You're lying through your capped teeth."
Eyes locked, Al and I stare at each other over the smoking candle.
"All right! All right!" she cries, caving like a deck of cards. "He says he still loves me!"
For this guy, love apparently means never having to say you're a sorry.
"I know what you're thinking," she says. "You're thinking he's married and he hasn't called in three years."
Actually, I was wondering if I could get the shrimp scampi with a side salad.
"But he's been very busy," she insists. "First there was the federal indictment ... then the bankruptcy..."
Call me old-fashioned, but if a girl can't take a check from a guy, she probably shouldn't date him.
"Then of course," she says, eyes wandering off toward the track lights, "there are the four kids."
This boy's next address will be the American Red Cross because the child support alone is going to bleed him dry.
"He named the twins Roll and Tide, after the Alabama football team," she says. "Can you believe it?"
Personally, I would have gone with Slippery Rock and Gamecock.
"You think I'm making a mistake, don't you?" Al says. Bringing bell-bottoms back was a mistake. I'd put this more in the category of playing chicken with a train.
"You're right," she sighs. "You're absolutely right."
Taking a deep, decisive breath, she picks up her menu. "I'll tell him it's over the minute he gets here," she says firmly.
Staring at the menu, Al taps her manicured fingernail on the table in thought. "...or maybe I'll wait until after our drinks arrive."
Picking up my ice water with lemon, I throw it in her face.
"Thanks," Al mutters, peeling the lemon off her cheek. "I needed that."
Write syndicated writer P.S. Wall c/o Universal Press Syndicate, 4520 Main St., Kansas City, MO 64111.