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I'm sure Bar sensed a little bit of tension between her two lunch companions, but she probably dismissed it as "territorial bitch syndrome" with me and Pat simply sniffing each other's arse whilst deciding if we liked each other or not.
Now, this is creative writing... What a lovely image.
Anyway, we all sat down in an uncomfortable silence and I decided to break the ice:
"So, Pat... Do you go to the early Learning Center often?" I asked, hinting at her bag.
"I do" was her dry answer
"I only pop in if I have to kill time really" I added casually "I find the crowd in there really obnoxious.."
"OBNOXIOUS! That's an interesting word!" Bar jumped in half laughing, looking at me in disbelief as if to say 'You just called my friend obnoxious! What's wrong with you?'.
So I adjusted the aim of my imaginary rifle and carried on:
"Well, maybe obnoxious is a strong word.... What about 'rude'? Nothing personal Pat, it's just that I can tell you the funniest story that happened to me in that shop!". Pat struggled to curl up her lips in a dead smile.
And I proceeded to tell the story of my encounter with Pat, obviously changing it slightly to avoid Bar making any obvious connections.
"My... I can't believe people can be so rude!" Bar said looking theatrically shocked.
Bang! First hit.
"I probably would have punched the bitch on her face!" she added laughing, winking at Pat that looked livid.
Bang! Second hit.
"Sorry Pat, I know you don't like bad words... I am such a bad girl!" and laughed some more, obviously relieved that I was not on to get her friend. But I was.... I was indeed.
I was relishing in the moment....No...Wait..... I was positively gloating!!!!
Mother Twat was getting a bashing from both of us and couldn't do anything to stop it.
"Well.....Maybe that lady was having a bad day...."
Pat tried, surprising me.
"Maybe she was having a bad day and needed to take it up with somebody." She said looking at both of us. Neither me nor Bar were really convinced by such lame justification.
"Pat, come on.... Drop the Good Samaritan badge for a second.... We all have bad days, but you don't really go around abusing people do you? I mean... You wouldn't stand for this sort of behaviour would you? It's inexcusable!"
Bar was shooting her friend in the face without even realising it....
Bang bang bang!! Third, fourth and fifth hit. The bitch's face was a colander. I was laughing to myself.
"Well... I'm just saying...." Pat replied sheepishly.
Just before Bar could open fire once more, the waiter came to the table to take our order: Patricia ordered a tuna niçoise with a glass of Pellegrino, Bar followed her, but with a more adventurous glass of Pinot Grigio, and I ordered a sacrilegious cheeseburger, fries, and a strawberry milkshake. Take that yummy mummy!
Bar laughed "I wish I could eat like that!"
"What's stopping you?" I asked.
"My jeans I suppose!" she answered
"That's why they've invented the 'mum's jeans' with elasticated waistbands... Aren't you american mums pioneers of the high-waisted, stone-washed one-size-fits-all miracle jeans?" and we both laughed.
"You're so funny Marco! Isn't he Pat?" Bar asked her friend.
But Pat was drifting away in her mind, probably thinking of ways to regain the upper hand in the conversation and not paying much attention to our light hearted chit-chat.
"Are you alright there dear? What's the matter? You do not seem yourself today?" Bar enquired with apprehension.
Pat paused, she looked at me and then looked down at her lap.
She began to cry.
Unfortunately, even before we could realize what was happening, Pat's baby began to scream and kick up such a fuss that it was impossible to focus on anything else.
Pat looked positively distraught, she was now sobbing and trying to calm her little one down, without result.
Bar did not know what to do, she wanted to talk to her friend, but found it impossible.
Something kicked me inside.
"Girls, let me take this little one for a brief stroll around the restaurant, my little boy is still asleep. You two sit here and have a chat ok?"
"THERE IS NO NEED FOR THAT!" Pat yelled.
"I AM PERFECTLY CALM...GODDAMMIT!" she was shaking... Her baby was screaming.... The restaurant now staring.
Fergus started crying as well in his high chair and my little Gabriel opened his eyes with a whimper, startled at the sudden noise. He is such an angel this little one of mine.
I stopped on my feet, feeling mortified.
"Pat... What is it?" Bar asked calmly whilst cuddling Fergus.
Patricia composed herself and picked her baby up, cradling him in her lap.
"It's back." She said, fighting the tremor in her voice.
Bar looked puzzled.
"This morning I went to the doctor and he confirmed it.... It's back and it's bad. I don't know if they'll be able to stop it this time."
I began to understand what she was talking about.
"Oh my God.... Patricia.... " Bar was lost for words.
"Have you told Aaron yet?"
"How can I? He is probably going to think that it's another plea for attention, he's such a self-absorbed moron sometimes.... The first time it happened he just told me to stop moaning and that if I was going to lose all my hair I could just wear a wig..."
'Your husband is an imperial asshole sister..' I thought, biting my lip.
"Gosh... I am so sorry... What are you going to do? " Bar asked her looking worried.
"I'll do whatever I have to. I'll call Dr. Lowenthal, ask for a second opinion. I'll take it from there"
And she forced a smile at her little one, finally calm in his mum's lap.
"How bad is it?" I found myself asking in an alarmed tone. Bar looked at me wide eyed.
Pat raised an eyebrow and said icily "Bad enough and unfair enough to make you want to abuse people I suppose."
BANG! It was my turn at being hit this time... By a cannon ball.... Right in my face.
I hated this... I hated the fact that now I was feeling sorry for her when I felt much more comfortable wanting to knock her head off.
Luckily, our lunch arrived and I dove into my plate to avoid making any eye contact with either of them. Truth is, I would have given anything not to be there.
What followed was a conversation between women that I intended not to get into.
But something was out of place.
There was no talk of Chemo or Radio Therapy.... It was all about lotions, shampoos, acupuncture and head massages.
"Boy!" I thought "It better be Jesus giving you that massage..."
But then, as the conversation got more and more hushed, I got the word that lifted me from my little hole of guilt:
alopecia! ALOPECIA!
Oh Lord! Oh angels in heaven! The bitch wasn't dying of cancer! She was just losing her hair!
What a manipulative shit.... Having me feeling guilty for thinking ill of her....Ok...This wasn't her fault... I jumped to conclusions and shot myself in the face. Obviously, for a woman, losing the hair it's worth it throwing a tantrum in front of a whole restaurant.
As men we are luckier. Well, nobody likes to look like a billiard ball, by any means... But a balding man, maybe with cropped hair.... Could be quite sexy no?
Look at Bruce Willis! Vin Diesel For God's sake! If their careers had depended on the sharpness of their hairlines, they would probably be serving cocktails in plastic glasses aboard a cruise ship full of fat pensioners...

"A-HA!" I yelled without thinking.
They both turned towards me looking puzzled
"Uh...Erm... Gabriel just winked at me! For the first time!!!" I lied goofily with a smile as fake as spray-tan....
"That's nice." Pat remarked in a condescending tone, obviously uninterested, and carried on mastering her friend's attention.
I swear to God! I would've jumped over the table and finish off by hand what the alopecia had started.
Bar realized I was being left out of the conversation and tried to steer her friend's verbal diarrhoea into common ground.
"Pat, did you know that Marco and his civil partner had Gabriel through surrogacy? Isn't it amazing?"
Pat turned and looked at me as she was seeing me for the first time..... Her expression a mixture of curiosity and disdain.
"Oh.... Did they really?" she merely uttered.
"I think it's fantastic that nowadays a gay couple can achieve the dream of having a family, don't you?"
Pat did not know what to answer, she was obviously not a fan of everything I represented at that table.
"Well, I suppose nowadays you can achieve anything you want, pity that sometimes we pay little attention to the consequences of our actions."
'Ooooh..... You did not just say that to my face woman....' I thought, but I simply asked
"And what do you mean by that?", smiling
"Well, don't you think that maybe your son will grow up and there will be moments in his life where he will have to confront the world for your life choices?" Pat replied calmly.
Bar was flabbergasted and was about to say something, but I cut in:
"I see.... Like having to confront all the bullies telling him that his parents are two faggots? Is that what you mean? Having to confront whoever is going to make fun of the two people he loves the most at this stage of his life? " I replied just as calmly.
"Precisely" she simply stated, sipping water from her glass, "Obviously It's nothing personal, but I think that children don't like anything that makes them stand out or that sets them apart from their peers. Aren't you afraid that one day he is going to resent you for being the way you are?"
She said in a patronising tone.
Bar was still trying to avert disaster, but it was too late now. I was set to explode.
"Well, I respect your point of view." I simply said.
"DO YOU?" Bar asked in a shocked voice.
"Yes, I do.... But you better be prepared sister, because as you are set to become the only bald mother in town, your little ones are on for some bumpy school-rides as well." I said standing up.
They both looked at me in disbelief as I reached for my wallet and threw some notes on the table.
"Now... In light of this revelation, are you wishing you never had children? Are you wishing you didn't have to lose your hair? Or, in the name of your love for your kids, are you swearing to do everything as a parent to make sure they feel loved, safe, happy and ready to face the world?"
Pat looked at me, pale in the face, so I carried on:
"Do me a favour then, cause obviously you don't know what I am talking about, save your lunch money, spare your children any future humiliation and go buy yourself some fucking wigs, cause that's all you can do."
I grabbed all my stuff, chucked it under the pram and started to make my way back to the elevator, but then I turned back and, with a finger pointed at her face:
" You better thank Christ that I am still a gentleman, otherwise I would've punched your fucking lights out back at the shop this morning..."
I kissed a now shocked Bar and left, leaving Pat to stare, open mouthed and trembling.
Jesus forgive me, it felt good.

(tbc....)