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Punch Drunk

Jack's Table For One



It's almost Valentine's Day and for some of you it can be a day of loneliness, a day of heart-wrenching anguish, a day spent sniffing hair dolls made of boyfriends past while the salty tears running down your face act as the only lubricant for a worn-out vibrator.

But do not despair. Do not wallow. Do not send that blubbery text. And definitely do not wait outside of his new lover's work with hatred in your heart and bleach-filled water balloons in the passenger seat of your Altima.

Just remember: There's always someone worse off.

Somewhere ages and ages thence, I took my first serious college girlfriend to a run-down, strip-mall Mexican joint for Valentine's Day — to break up with her.

Class act. But wait — it gets worse.

The error I committed (other than the errors already described) is that I commenced with the grisly deed quickly — an efficient French guillotine operator. I dispensed with the niceties and dove right in. A sort of break-up battlefield judge, jury and executioner.

You see, my error here being that it was still the chips and salsa portion of the meal, thus leaving us to stick out a very awkward and understandably silent taco-and-Spanish rice period.

A tearful, yet tasty epoch, if you will.

Adding to the melancholy was an overcast day, sad pink and red balloons everywhere and a live mariachi band. All of which seemed to give everything a rather dreary quality. I assume the combination of these things made it that much worse to endure, for her.

Also, and this is important to note, neither of us was yet of drinking age. This exponentially compounded the issue because every jilted lover since the beginning of time knows that an extra-large margie or four helps to numb the pain of heartbreak. Plus, margaritas are delicious, although I strongly recommend that you make a habit of upgrading from rail tequila to something slightly better. Silver Hornitos, perhaps. Rail tequila isn't even tequila. It's 80-proof hemlock. It's what frat pledges consume when they're ready to go to heaven early. And for chrissakes, man, forgo the salt rim. Only women and serial killers ask for salt on a margarita.

But I'm getting off topic.

So 10 years later, she — the Valentine's Day dumpee — went on to become a teacher and an all-around successful do-gooder. In her spare time I think she helps Ugandan child soldiers become whole again, or something overtly humanitarian of that nature. I think we can all agree that children's being forced into military servitude is a bad thing, right? Seems like a negative thing, at least.

Meanwhile here I am at Banditos at 3 p.m. on a Monday, four drinks deep, chain-smoking as I write this. I do much of my "work" here at table 11. It's peaceful in the early afternoon and it's a great place to stem my hangovers from Sunday nights. Plus, I love their tacos. So clearly, I'm a major catch. I just hope that she was able to get over me.

I like to think that she looks back on that day and laughs. Sort of like how one grimly chuckles at a scene from a Dostoevsky novel.

Happy Valentine's Day, you poor wretches.