If you need to catch up on PART I, please do here.
Otherwise, I would like to introduce you to Maria.
Maria and I met at Bible study, or as she likes to call it--"Book Club"--four or five years ago. Anyone who meets Maria can tell within the first thirty seconds of talking to her that she is a strikingly confident, beautiful, intelligent, friendly, and witty person. No, Maria did not tell me (or pay me) to say any of these things. I feel she's one of those people who truly sees the best in everyone. She's also contagiously charming and it's easy to fall under her spell which I know many people can attest to (Penguiy). And on top of everything, she is blessed with a figure that my friend Mandy best summed up while we both dined with her by asking: "Can you wear a different shirt next time that's not so low cut so I don't have to keep contemplating whether or not I'm a lesbian?" Finally, a few things I love about Maria are:
1. She genuinely laughs at all of my stories, especially the ones that are exponentially harder to retell because they involve people she doesn't know or the disclaimer: "You had to be there."
2. She is exceedingly generous and kind.
3. Her laugh and smile are my favorite!
Maria recently returned from an amazing mission trip to Romania where she worked in an orphanage for almost two weeks. I was excited to hear all about it so we decided to have dinner at the same sushi restaurant where ol' Droops worked. Internally, I had come to grips with the reality that any hope I had for myself and Droops was long gone; I should have never even formed an expectation between us. From here on out, I was going to make it really simple. I would continue to be served yummy sushi by the Droopshi Nazi, and the Droopshi Nazi's face would continue to get saggier. Sounded fair.
Maria and I sat in the same booth near the front window of the restaurant (typical). Maria instantly pulls out her purse and says, "I brought you back some Romanian chocolate," and revealed seven or eight different kinds of chocolate bars on the table. Droops happened to waddle over at the same time and for once, her face tried to form a smile. "Ah, chocolate!" And she let out a girly giggle as I rolled my eyes in my mind.
"Do you want one?" Maria asked. (What?! I scream inside.)
"Ah, no no," Droops giggled again. (Puke, I think to myself.)
"No seriously, take one!" Maria smiled. (Maria, this is not the time to be your normal generous self! Especially to Droops! I try to send this message to her telepathically.)
"Ah, no no." More giggling. More puke in my head and lotttttts of eye rolling. Maria and Droops go back and forth like this two more times as I'm frantically troubleshooting the telepathic error between me and Maria until finally, Droopshi Naz gives in and settles on the cappuccino chocolate bar. Quite a sinking feeling to accept that this person whose face is in a permanent scowl and treats people like they're not only invisible, but invisible crap, got to pick foreign chocolate bought for me before me. I made a mental note that this justified a few more death fantasies later. Droops started thanking Maria profusely and said she wanted to pay her for the chocolate.
"Oh, don't worry about it!" Maria smiled. "It was so cheap!" (This service is cheap.)
"No, no, I pay you," D says. (Make her pay!!!)
"No, really, it was like, a dollar." (Plus 100! C'mon, hit her where it hurts!)
"Are you sure?" (No! Maria's obviously drunk!)
"Yes, it's fine!" (Maria, are you drunk?)
"Ok, ok, thank you." (SHE KNOWS THE PHRASE "THANK YOU?!?!")
My mind and body were reeling. Somehow I managed to play it cool and seamlessly transition into real conversation with my dear friend, eventually forgetting about ol' Droops and her stupid chocolate (can Romanian chocolate give people really bad diarrhea, please, please, please!!!). However... from that point on, when chocolate and Maria's kindness were exchanged, something remarkable happened. No, I didn't get to live out my Droop-dunking in the restaurant aquarium fantasy nor did I take the liberty of making my own personal touches to Droopshi Nazi's face. What happened was that the Droops became a 3-dimensional person. She grew feelings and new facial expressions. She was, dare I say it, nice. Nice! On one hand, of course she had to be nice because we gave her chocolate. And by "we" I mean "Maria." But I couldn't help thinking, really? All it took was chocolate? We're not talking about placating a pet dog here (or are we) or a 2-year-old baby. We're talking about a grown-ass woman whose life revolves around a business that is driven entirely by customer service and we (Maria) won her cold-stone heart over with Romanian chocolate? My brain is officially mush.
We ended our evening with full bellies, great stories, and for once, an actual, up close and personal, pleasant dining experience. There were good-byes and thank yous when we got up to leave. There were smiles. I might have seen a unicorn jumping through a rainbow. Everything was as it should be. I thanked Maria over and over for upgrading me by association to whatever status she had unwittingly catapulted us into. But the real question was: Would Droops remember me the next time I came into dine? Would my face somehow be blended into Maria's and conditioned to symbolize chocolate and wonder and happy in her mind? Or would my upgraded treatment expire or be completely forgotten by my next visit? I had to find out. And I did. But that's the final story.