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“There he is!”
Eric turned to his left, tracking the sound of the familiar voice over the din of the happy hour crowd. He looked over the sea of guys in gingham button-down shirts and dark-washed jeans and saw a tall redhead smiling and waving at him. He returned the wave, happy to see an old friend and excited to catch up, when his smile suddenly froze on his face. There was someone else in the booth.
“Shit, did she bring her boyfriend?” He thought to himself as he navigated around a group of 30-year-olds loudly discussing the pros and cons of various credit cards. “Have I ever even met this guy? Fuck, he’s already giving me a stare down like a douchebag. Relax, guy, I’m not trying to steal your girlfriend in front of you. She’s allowed to have male friends, ya tool. Okay, reign it in. Be the bigger man and seem enthusiastic. Third-wheeling is the best. Here we go.”
“Hey, Ally! It’s been too long,” Eric greeted her with a hug, before turning and offering his hand to the presumed boyfriend. “What’s up, man? I’m Eric. Great to meet you.”
“Whoops, sorry! This is my boyfriend Trevor. I hope you don’t mind he came along. He works in the area as well,” Ally said cheerfully as Trevor wordlessly gripped Eric’s hand in a shake that was just a bit too tight.
“What a douchebag this guy is,” Eric said internally, as he outwardly assured his friend that it was no problem she tricked him into a third wheel situation.
Attempting to play nice, he flagged down a waitress and ordered a Blue Moon pitcher for the table, trying to ignore the fact that Ally and Trevor took the opportunity to exchange kisses while he was momentarily distracted. He turned, winced at the view of the two of them staring into each other’s eyes, and cleared his throat loudly.
“So what do you do, Trevor?”
“I’m finishing up my third year in law school,” Trevor said with a slight smirk on his face. “What about you?”
Eric matched his pompousness with fake interest and replied. “Nice, man! I have a friend in law school and he says the third year is killer, congrats on surviving. I’m a lead project manager at a tech company.”
“I have no idea if ‘lead project manager’ is even a title, but I’m not going to get one-upped by this guy,” he thought. “Even made up, it’s still better than ‘almost a lawyer.’”
“Ohh nice. Bigshot. Big baller. So how do you know my girlfriend?”
Eric looked at Ally, shocked that she was unfazed by her boyfriend’s possessive language. Misinterpreting his expression, she jumped in to tell regale the table with the story of how they had lived across from each other in the dorms their freshmen year. Trevor slowly sipped his beer and stared at Eric as she talked.
Despite Trevor’s awkwardness, Eric managed to steer the conversation back to the original purpose of the meetup – to catch up with his friend. After several minutes of engaging conversation, he felt better. It was good to see Ally again, and despite the best efforts of the guy sitting next to her, he was having a good time.
With Trevor resolutely pounding beers and offering nothing to the chat, the topic turned, as it always does, to reminiscing about the glory days. Eric teased Ally about the time she was found drunkenly eating the remains of other people’s chicken wings after a long day of drinking, and she fired back with stories about Eric’s questionable sleeping habits in the past.
“…and then there was the time you drank Everclear at formal and we found you passed out in nothing but dress socks and a bowtie in the hotel elevator…” Ally cackled until her story was abruptly interrupted.
“Wow, was there any guy you didn’t see naked in college?” Trevor grunted, looking at the table’s inhabitants with disdain, an expression Eric returned gladly.
“Excuse me?” “Dude, what the fuck?” Ally and Eric spoke at the same time.
Trevor scowled across the table and responded.
“What? I’m supposed to just sit here and listen to my girlfriend talk like a whore? Sorry, you missed your chance in college, Eric, but you’re not going to get her now, so you can stop trying.”
“Holy shit,” Eric thought as he looked into the bleary eyes across from his. “This kid is hammered. Okay. Last attempt to diffuse this and save my friend some embarrassment before I get thrown out of my favorite happy hour spot for starting a fight.”
“Listen, man, Ally and I are just frie—” Eric’s efforts to calm the situation was cut short by a much louder voice.
“DID YOU JUST CALL ME A WHORE?!” Both Eric and Trevor visibly flinched as Ally, eyes widened in anger, knocked her chair to the ground to stand over her boyfriend.
“Eric and I are just friends, and even if we weren’t, that doesn’t give you the right to call me names. What I did in college, or for any part of my single life for that matter, has nothing to do with you. I told you I was coming to meet up with an old friend, and you decided to come with me, get too drunk, and act like a jealous, immature asshole. If you’re too much of an insecure pussy to deal with the fact that I had a life before I met you, then we shouldn’t be dating.”
With that, she picked up her purse, tossed a couple bills on the table, and placed her fallen chair back upright. Eric, who had been frozen in shock with an awed smile plastered on his face, realized she was leaving and scrambled to grab his coat and catch up.
As he hustled to keep up with her power-walking down the sidewalk, Eric grinned and leaned in.
“Good to see you’re still living up to your college nickname, A-bomb.”
She playfully (but painfully) smacked him in the chest.
“Oh, shut up, or you’re next. God, men suck.” .