What attracts can also repel

I knew both of them. Well actually I didn’t really know either of them, but I knew them in the abstract because I knew their types.

If it wasn’t obvious by his cologne or his tiny bit of muscle definition brought on by very recent trips to the gym, it was obvious by her overdone make-up and orange-ish skin, the kind that only appears after a spray tanning free trial membership.

They sat on opposite ends of the bar, one slightly buffed sweet-smelling bookend and another orange one. Could destiny be far behind?

Only they didn’t notice each other, at least not yet.

“I hate men,” Lady Orange said, lifting her glass of buttery oaky chardonnay unsteadily. Sometimes the known evil is better than the unknown one, at least when it comes to wine. Ask any salesperson, name recognition and reluctance to try something unfamiliar go a long way.

I don’t know if I actually said anything, but I found something else to do at the far end of the bar. When someone casts aspirations upon your persuasion, I’ve found that sometimes it is better not to stand and fight, especially when ones hands are tied by the service equation knot.

“I hate women,” said Mr. Buff, proving the other end just as inhospitable.

Rock and a hard place, me in-between.

“My ex-husband is a jerk,” said Lady Orange, unsolicited.

“My ex-wife is a pain,” echoed Mr. Buff, also unsolicited.

On a side note, neither used the word “jerk” or “pain,” but this is a family newspaper after all.

Thank goodness for busy bars, because somewhere in between them is where I soon found quite a lot to do. Unfortunately however, even in the busiest bars people eventually leave, sometimes by choice and sometimes not.

It was now me, another couple directly in front of me, and the two bookends, each of whom had moved one seat closer. In restaurant parlance, he had moved from bar seat one to bar seat two, and she had moved from bar seat 10, to bar seat nine. All bars number their seats. If you hear the bartender talking about number five, and you are five seats from anywhere, guess what — she’s talking about you.

The couple in front of me rose to say their good-byes just as Mr. Buff had moved from seat three to seat four and Lady Orange moved from seat eight to seat seven. Just because you hate half of humankind doesn’t mean you don’t want to be around them.

It was now just a matter of time. Immoveable object was going to meet irresistible force. And I was going to witness it all by myself.

Lucky me.

They ordered drinks at exactly the same moment. It must have been fate, because suddenly the woman hater and the man hater were now talking to their respective sworn enemies.

As these things so often do, the talk soon turned to subjects more … intimate.

I was now in bartender never-never land. I couldn’t leave because of the nature of my employment, but I couldn’t stay because of common decency. So I did what bartenders the world over do: I polished glassware and stared into space.

Eventually something was said that changed the arrangement. And not for the better. All I know is that when I looked up she had moved to bar seat seven and he had moved to bar seat four.

“I hate that woman,” said Mr. Buff jabbing a thumb in an obvious direction.

“I hate that guy,” said Lady Orange also using a finger gesture.

Leaving me with these thoughts:

• Even the hardest journey begins with a first step, or a stumble, as the case may be.

• “When choosing between two evils, I always like to try the one I’ve never tried before,” said Mae West.

• Alexander the Great untied the Gordian Knot with a sword cut. Just saying.

• Albert Camus once argued that it was young artists who needed to “retie” that “Gordian knot of civilization,” the one cut by violence. For once Camus was the optimist. This one’s for you Al, I’m doing all that I can.

• Once you realize that you don’t hate every single person of the opposite persuasion — just one or two of them — life gets a whole lot easier.