By Meagan Friberg
It was against my better judgement, but I did it anyway. Rick’s expression when I invited him to dinner with my new co-workers said it all – he thought we were getting back together. Nothing could be further from the truth. Between his non-stop verbal abuse – what he calls sarcasm – and his inability to keep a steady job, I’d had enough. Still, I needed a date and Rick was available.
“Sherry is such a quick learner, as I’m sure you’ve already discovered,” he says, laughing as he opens the bottle of Pinot Noir situated at the center of our table. “I mean, it only took her three months to figure out how to use her iPhone.”
I give him a stern look, trying to express my unhappiness. It always starts out this way; a “harmless” comment or two. There was a time when I found his sarcasm humorous. Back then, it was directed mostly towards other people; I was wrong to find it amusing. Once I became his target, I finally noticed the damaging effects of Rick’s sarcastic ways.
A quote from Dana Perino…Sarcasm, it’s been said, is like cheap wine – it leaves a terrible aftertaste…helped me understand it was time to put Rick in my past. Get rid of that terrible aftertaste. Unless, of course, I was desperate for a date. Will I ever learn?
“Hmmmm,” I murmur, and turn my focus to my new office manager. “So, Ellen, I’m quite excited about the beauty products promo.”
“It’s a project I’ve been pursuing for quite some time,” she says. “Having your expertise in the industry is such a bonus for our team.”
Rick squirms, trying to resist a sarcastic comment. It’s inevitable.
“Yeah, right, she’s such a beauty. Especially when she wakes up in the morning with no makeup on.”
Ellen looks at me, then responds, “I can’t imagine how beautiful Sherry must look in the morning. A natural beauty, this girl is.”
“Ha!” he laughs, pantomiming spitting out his wine. He’s on his third glass and doesn’t show signs of slowing done. It’s free, thanks to my new employer; the perfect perk as far as Rick is concerned. “She’s something else, all right.”
Ellen grabs my hand. “Come with me to the ladies’ room?”
I turn towards Rick and say, “I’ll be back in a few.”
“Have fun,” he laughs. “Don’t fall in.”
Ellen takes my arm and leads me past the ladies’ room to the patio.
“What’s up with that guy? I absolutely hate sarcasm and guys like him are the reason why.”
“I know, he’s a jerk. Rick is my ex, actually, and for good reason. I only asked him along because I didn’t have a date and sometimes he actually knows how to behave. I was hoping he’d reign it in a bit tonight while I was with my new coworkers.”
“I have an idea,” she says. “Let’s turn things around and see how he likes being the target.”
We head back to our table where Rick, by now, is clearly inebriated.
“Sorry we were gone so long,” Ellen says. “I presume by the empty wine bottles you were just fine on your own. I mean, you can really handle your alcohol, big guy.”
Rick squints over his wine glass in my direction. “Let’s get out of here.” He stands up as if to leave.
“I’m only kidding,” Ellen says, with eyes focused on me. “Don’t get all bent out of shape!”
I laugh louder than I have in years. “I’m going to like working with you, Ellen!”
Born and raised in Bakersfield, Meagan Friberg lives in Paso Robles. She works as a freelance writer, reporter, editor, and photographer; numerous of her articles, stories, and photos have been published locally. Meagan enjoys traveling and spending time with her family, and is a member of SLO NightWriters, for writers at all levels in all genres. Find them online at slonightwriters.org.