Here’s a very short story based on a true story I heard just the other day.
Melinda Jenkins watched the people at the party sipping drinks and eating finger foods. They talked loudly and laughed open-mouthed. Most of them were disgusting. They had such a variety of flaws from large crooked noses to outdated outfits. Some had gaps in their teeth and others had red blotchy skin. After scanning the room carefully, Melinda settled on Dave.
“…and that’s how I got to fly on the company plane.” Dave ended yet another long, dull story meant to impress.
Melinda sipped her drink and laughed politely. He was a braggart. He’d spent the entire evening telling one impressive story after another. His teeth were crooked and yellow. He talked with his mouth full. And he was fat. His belly hung over his belt and his shirt buttons strained to stay closed. There were so many things wrong with him that it was difficult for Melinda to pick just one. She glanced down at her watch, “Where did the time go? I have to get going,” she said.
“So early.” Dave set his glass on the table next to him and took a few steps closer to her.
“Yeah. I have to get up early tomorrow. You know how it is?” Melinda started walking to the door.
Dave followed. “That’s too bad. I really enjoyed talking to you.”
She checked her hair in the mirror near the door. Every hair was still perfectly in place–frozen by a generous coating of hairspray. She took her red trench coat from the coat rack and slid into it. She buttoned it and as she carefully tied the belt around her waist in a neat square knot she scanned the crowded room for the host of the party.
This is the way it usually happened. She’d wait until they were saying goodbye. Then she’d lean in to give them a hug and just then she’d whisper their flaw into their ear. Usually the person wouldn’t quite understand what she’d said. They’d smile and nod in agreement. Some would even thank her. The ugly are so stupid, she’d often think.
Even as she leaned in to give Dave his goodbye hug she was still deciding what she should say. “You’re fat,” she whispered quietly in his ear as she pulled away from him. She emphasized the “t” at the end of fat for effect.
Maybe she’d misjudged the noise level in the room or the volume of her voice. Maybe despite all his other flaws Dave had particularly good hearing. She didn’t know what she’d done wrong, but she knew she’d blown it as soon as she saw his face.
At first his expression was blank. Then he cocked his head and narrowed his eyes. “What?” he said.
“Nothing. I have to go.” She opened the door to leave. She’d have to call the host tomorrow and apologize for leaving without saying goodbye.
“Did you just call me fat?” Dave yelled out the door as she walked to her car.
When Melinda got into her car he was still yelling at her. She calmly started the engine and pulled away.