Shut That Bitch Up!bytoomuchinmyhead©
Steve pushed a couple of singles towards the bartender from his change, and then slid over to Andrea. They sat together at the bar, and he silently hoped against hope that she'd calm down, enjoy herself and allow him to relax. So far their tenth anniversary vacation had not gone as well as planned. Always opinionated and a little particular, Andrea was also outspoken. Some of his friends , he knew, considered her stuck up, or snooty, or spoiled. He knew her tastes were more materialistic than his own; he'd known that since they'd started dating, and ten years of marriage hadn't altered that. He'd surprised her with his plan for this vacation, and she'd been delighted at first: the opportunity to go someplace warm, together, and enjoy each other away from their regular lives. Her delight had lasted until she'd found out that he had booked them in a hotel far from the strip and the action. She had immediately let him know what she thought of his idea, and what she really wanted. She wanted night life, and attention, and to spend more than they could afford. She wanted clubs and restaurants, and action, and to have her entertainment thrown at her.
He had seen this vacation as an opportunity to relax, to do nothing, to unwind together and reconnect. For once in his life he'd stood his ground, insisting that they would have plenty of fun, that it was a short drive to the beach. He preferred casual settings; she preferred to dress up and go out. He wanted conversation, and few plans, she wanted music and laughs and a schedule of events. She had gone along, unwillingly, and let him know at least once a week until the day they left that she was doing it for him, and that she knew she wouldn't enjoy herself.
And sure enough, here it was day three, and she was right so far; she was miserable, and let him know it just about every minute of every day. She seemed to not grasp the concept of doing something for someone else, despite all the years that he had forfeited his desires to make her happy, doing what she wanted, when she wanted to do it. He would suffer her in silence, preferring to acquiesce instead of arguing, going along to get along. She, apparently, was unable to do that, even this once, despite his telling her how much it would mean to him. So they had argued since they'd arrived, or rather she had argued with him, expressing her dissatisfaction with the hotel location, the rental car, the room, the food, the lack of action and activity. He was starting to feel as though the end of his rope was dangerously close; that not only was this vacation a mistake, but that their marriage was. He loved her, he knew it, but he didn't want to fight. And she didn't either, as long as she got her way. Usually he just gave in, but this week they were supposed to be doing it his way. And they did. But with her continuous verbal barrage of criticism.
And she was not one to suffer in silence, he thought, sipping his beer. Worse, she did not have it in her to complain quietly. When they were alone, or out of reasonable earshot of others, he had learned to mostly tune her out. But it was times like this, in this local town bar, that her ranting became uncomfortable for him.
He had chosen this bar because it looked like the type of place he would like to hang out – quiet, never too busy, and you could relax with your friends and have a decent conversation. He'd seen it on one of his drives to get beer for the room, seen the people going in, thinking that it was the type of crowd he could be comfortable in. When they came in he was pleased to see that he was right. A group of friends, maybe ten people, were the only patrons, and clearly regulars, town folks, working people. Dressed in a variety of jeans and tee shirts, boots and sneakers, they were just regular workaday folks like himself, having a couple of drinks after getting off their day jobs. So Andrea's hectoring onslaught embarrassed him, knowing her voice was, as usual when in this state, too loud, too insistent, and out of place for the atmosphere.
"Oh, yeah," she said sarcastically, "this is great Steve. It figures you'd pick a shit hole like this." Steve saw the bartenders ears prick up at that statement. "I should have known after you put us in that crappy half-ass hotel that you'd want to come to a place like this." The bartender pretended to do something under the bar, but Steve saw his eyes looking over, and the look let him know that he'd heard. Shit. He really didn't want to respond to her, but he needed her to keep her voice down if she couldn't keep her opinion to herself.
"Honey, can you hold it down a little?" he asked under his breath.
"Stop it," she dismissed, "what are you, worried that these local losers can't handle hearing the truth? You think they don't know they hand out in a shit-hole bar?"
He steamed inwardly. She had a problem discerning her opinion from the facts, generally assuming that her opinion was right because, well, it was her opinion. And she was not shy about expressing it.
"Listen," he said hesitantly, "I just think that you might consider someone else for a few seconds, and keep your opinions a little lower." He knew there was no point asking her not to express them. That would never happen. But he didn't want to insult anyone.
"Well, I'm sorry," she whined in a lower voice, leaning into him, "I don't want to be here, and I don't like these people, and I don't want this beer." She pushed it back to him.
"What would you like?" he asked, trying to change the subject.
"I would like a margarita," she pouted. "Somewhere else."
"I'll order you a margarita," he said. "But we are not leaving. This is supposed to be a vacation, not a week-long fight." He sighed, motioned to the bartender, and ordered a margarita. He looked at her while he waited for her drink. She was silent, and despite the half scowl she was wearing he could only see her beauty, the darkly seductive face that had first attracted him. Half Italian, her eyes were large and dark, accentuated by her dark eye makeup, her thin nose slightly long, her high cheekbones and sharp jaw framing a set of full, sensuous lips that seemed to hardly smile anymore. He touched her hand. "Can't you just relax, just be happy to be together?" She turned and looked at him, the look on her face telling him she did not understand the purpose of the question. "Can't you just be happy? Why do you always have to be miserable?" Her mouth opened slightly. "For once in your life can you just-"
"Oh, shut up!" she blurted, grimacing angrily. Her voice was loud again as the bartender returned with her drink. He glanced at the sole waitress, a slight blonde girl of maybe twenty, who rolled her eyes, then gave Steve a look of understanding. "Just because you like to hang out in broke down loser bars with strangers, you want me to pretend to be happy? No way!" The bartender returned with his change, but his look had changed to one of warning, and Steve caught him motioning to the crowd in the back.
Steve glanced over, saw that some of them had heard Andrea's outburst, and touched her hand. "Honey, hold it down, please. There's no need to..."
"Hold what down?" she asked at full volume. Steve just knew it could be heard over the low-volume jukebox. He lowered his hear a little. "Oh, are you embarrassed of me? Afraid someone might hear that I have an opinion? Well, too bad!" She sipped her drink, put the glass back down. "Oh, shit, it's fucking awful." She turned to Steve. "That is about the worst margarita I've ever had."
"Don't you shush me!" she snapped at him. "It was your decision to come here! I wanted to go somewhere nice, with nice people, and maybe get a decent drink." She looked at him. Even angry, she was still beautiful. She had turned on her barstool and was facing him now. "But no, not Mr. Regular Guy," she sneered, "Mr. boring wants to go to the boring bar and do boring things with the boring," she motioned with her hand dismissively towards the group in the back, "locals," she added with sarcastic emphasis.
He glanced over her shoulder to the group in the back. The waitress was bringing them their beers, but about half of them were looking in his direction. She'd clearly been heard, and several of them looked displeased. He looked at them, six guys and four girls, the oldest probably his own age, mid-thirties, the youngest maybe twenty, one of the girls. He caught the eye of one guy, a large fellow, who seemed to be the natural group leader. Tall, light brown hair and well built, he seemed easy-going and forceful at once, and the others seemed to defer to his charisma. He knew that he could like that guy, these people. Throw some darts. Knock down a few beers. They didn't deserve what his wife was saying, any more than he did. The tall guy caught his gaze, and raised his eyebrows questioningly; he made a subtle motion towards the group he was with. Steve understood the unspoken suggestion, and tried again to quiet Andrea.
"Honey, come on, just calm down a little ..."
"Don't 'calm down' me," she blurted dismissively. "You wanted to come here. I didn't. I don't like it here, and I don't care who knows it." She turned back to the bar, took a long pull from her drink. She huffed. "If you drink it fast, it's only half bad," she sneered. She motioned to the bartender for another, even though she was only half finished. He glanced at Steve, and Steve nodded, and the bartender set to making her another. Andrea caught the looks.
"Oh, great, so now I can't order a drink without your okay?" she sniped.
"You know, you could be a little nicer to people." He turned to her. "I know that you can't be nicer to me, but you could be nicer to people you haven't met." He felt his usual tolerance slipping away. "Just because you like to treat me like shit when you don't get your way is no reason to treat everyone like shit; you don't know them, and they haven't done anything to you." He struggled to keep the edge off his voice.
The bartender came back, and waited as Steve took money from his wallet. He dropped a couple of twenties on the bar. He finished his beer and started on the other one as the bartender rag up the drinks and returned with the change. He stood facing Steve, and extended his hand.
"Ron," he said. Steve introduced himself. "You seem like a nice guy, Steve." He leaned in to him, lowered his voice. "This is my bar, man, and those folk over there are regulars, this is where they hang. They know me, and I know them. I'd really prefer if they didn't have their evening ruined."
Steve glanced sideways at his wife who was staring disinterestedly in another direction, obviously ignoring the man. "I'm sorry man, I'll try to calm her down. She doesn't mean anything by it, she's just, well, opinionated, you know?"
Ron made a tolerated face, and moved to the waitress at the end, who had returned for more drinks.
"What was that?" Andrea asked. "Did your bartender friend get insulted?"
"Actually, he's the owner," Steve explained. "He doesn't want his regular folks upset."
"Well, if they are upset because I don't like their shitty bar, too bad."
"Hold it down, would you?"
"I will not!" she insisted. "It's my opinion, and I will say it." She raised her voice, making her words clear. "And I will say it as loud as I want, and I don't care who hears it!"
"Knock it off!" he heard from behind him, and turned to see the regulars snickering to each other. But some of them looked angry, not jovial.
"Andrea. I'm serious, try to keep your voice down. It's really not a good idea to insult people you don't know." She steamed next to him, and he saw her glare at the crowd. "You don't know them, and they don't deserve your abuse. Beside, you don't know how they'll react."
She turned back to him. "You wuss," she spat with disdain. She finished her first drink, and sipped he second, then stood as she put it down. "I have to pee." She stalked off, and he turned to watch her go, hoping that none of the local girls needed to use the ladies room just then. A quick check confirmed that they were all present. He turned back to the bar, and was sipping his beer when he felt a tap on his shoulder. He turned to see the tall guy from the group.
"Hey, man," he said, "I'm Nathan." Steve shook his hand, introduced himself. Nathan had an easy look about him, casual and comfortable with himself. Steve instantly liked him. "Listen, it's none of my business, but your lady is making it my business. My friends and I," he motioned, "this is our place. We're not bad people, and we like having folks come in for a drink.
"I know man, I'm sorry. This place, it looked like the kind of place I'd like, where I'd hang out."
"And you are welcome to stay," Nathan interrupted, "but my friends are getting a little testy." He paused, considering his words. "It's not that she's too loud..."
"But she is," Steve quipped.
Nathan grinned. "Yeah, she is. I'm sure she's a fine lady, and she's very pretty. But she needs to stop insulting us."
"I hear you, man. I'm trying."
"I don't want trouble, and you seem like a decent guy," Nathan advised him
"I don't want trouble either, believe me."
"Well, try to get that through to her. I'll try to keep my friends in line, but I can't promise anything if she keeps it up."
"Thanks, man, I'll do my best."
Nathan clapped him on the shoulder, and they shook hands, and he went back to his friends. They gathered and spoke conspiratorially, but he was cool and just redirected the conversation. He saw Andrea returning and watched her take her seat.
"Well, at least the bathroom was clean," she muttered, and picked up her drink. She downed about half and put it down. They sat next to each other in silence for a few minutes. Steve hoped against hope that the drinks would calm her, make her relax a little, take the edge off. He sipped his beer.
The song on the jukebox ended, and the sound of laughter from the crowd in the back could be heard clearly. That's what he wanted to be doing, having easy laughs with friendly people. Instead he was sitting on the edge of his seat, trying not to have a knock-down fight with his wife, who he loved but couldn't control. The next song started with the twangy sounds of a popular country-western tune.
"Oh, fucking great," Andrea said too loudly, "fucking hick tunes!"
Steve screwed up his courage. "Andrea, honey, I need to ask you a favor." With a drink and a half in her he was afraid of her answer, but he'd promised to try and control her. "Please, I'm begging you, I just want to hang out and have a few beers in a quiet place for a little while. I want to be with you, and enjoy your company, and meet some folks and have conversations." She eyed him suspiciously. "Can you please just pretend you're having a good time, and not act up like-"
"Act up?" she barked. "Is that what you think I'm doing, acting up? Like a little baby?" She finished the rest of her drink, and motioned to the bartender for another. "You think I'm acting like a spoiled baby who didn't get her way?" Her voice was loud now, and he shrunk back into himself, looking at his beer as she continued. "Let me tell you, you haven't seen acting up!"
"How about shutting up?" he heard a woman shout out from the crowd.
Andrea whirled to the sound. "How about you shut up, asshole?" she called back.
"Why don't you make me?" he heard and turned to see Nathan pulling a girl back into her seat. He reached for Andrea, pulled her back to the bar. He caught Nathan's eye, mouthed 'sorry', and pushed her drink to her.
"Come on honey, let's not start-"
She shrugged his hand from her arm, and Steve felt a tap on his shoulder. He turned to see Nathan there.
"Hey man, I'm sorry," Steve began, but Nathan put his hand up.
"No, I'm sorry, that was uncalled for, but I need to ask you again to control your lady."
"I'm his wife," Andrea interrupted. Nathan stopped, regarded her, and then turned back to Steve.
"Seriously, man, this could get ugly. I'll try to hold them back, but maybe you folks should consider finding another place to go."
"Are you fucking kidding me?" Andrea barked at him. "You're not going to tell me where I can drink!" Nathan barely glanced at her, choosing instead to fix Steve with a hard look.
"I can try to hold them back, but I can't promise it won't get ugly."
"They're already ugly," she spat, "and I won't be intimidated, so you just take yourself back to your loser friends and leave decent people alone, and mind your business."
Nathan turned to her, spoke quietly. "Those 'losers'" he emphasized, "are my friends, little lady, and I won't have then insulted." He turned back to Steve. "Either take her out or calm her down, man."
"I got it, thanks." Nathan held his gaze for a second, glanced at Andrea, and returned to his group.
"Maybe we should go," he began.
"Because he says so?" she scoffed. "When I wanted to leave you were all for staying, and now he says we should go, so you'll go?" She finished her drink, lifted the fresh one. "You're amazing." She sipped, then turned to him. "What, we're not good enough for this place?" She raised her voice, and repeated it loudly, making sure everyone could hear.
"Stop it!" Steve said, grabbing her arm, spilling her drink. "Stop it! You're gonna make this get out of control, and I won't be able to protect you!" He was whispering loudly.
Andrea looked at him with disbelief. "Are you listening to yourself? Can't protect me? From what?" She was loud now, and Steve cringed as she motioned wildly towards the group that had stopped at her outburst. "From this? From them?" She took her drink, finished it. "Hey. You," she said to the bartender. "Can I get another one?" The bartender came to them, reluctantly, and picked up her glass, and looked at Steve. Then back at Andrea.
"I think you should take your man's advice, and either go, or settle down."
"Thanks for the tip, bartender. You can mind your business, too. Just get the drink. No one's chasing me out." The bartender looked at Steve. "Don't ask the wuss, he's not making the decision. Get the damn drink!" Roy stepped away, shaking his head. Andrea continued her obnoxious rant until he returned, put down her drink, and a beer in front of Steve.
"I'll take for her drink," Roy told him, slipping a few bills from the pile. "Your beer is on me."
"Oh, great!" she raved. "Now you made a friend in this shithole, so you can talk about me?" She waved behind her. "With them?"
Steve didn't answer, didn't even turn to face her. Another song ended, and in the silence before the next one he clearly heard comments from the crowd behind him. He cringed inwardly, and gritted his teeth as phrases like 'that fucking bitch' and 'loud-mouth stuck up shit' and others hit his ears. He knew Andrea heard them, too. Then he heard 'fucking slut' and Andrea yelled.
"Hey, who are you calling a slut, you whore?" she yelled at the group. "If you got something to say, come over and say it!"
Steve turned when he heard chairs moving, but saw only Nathan standing, telling his people to sit still, and approached them. He looked at Andrea with something like disdain or pity, then turned to Steve.
"Listen. This is getting out of control, fast. I need you guys to leave, now, or something bad could happen."
"Hey, genius," Andrea said, standing up from her stool. She stepped in front of Nathan, looked up into his face. Steve had to admit, she had balls. More than brains, but balls. "You and your friends just mind your fucking business and leave us alone. We're not going, and you can't make us." Nathan looked at her, then to Steve, who shrugged helplessly, surrendering to his wife's will. Nathan nodded to him, and shrugged back, then turned and walked back to his friends.