He is white, balding, with a beer belly, and prone to patting his neck. She is tiny, in impossibly tall heels and proportionately short skirt. Pints of beer and football on the big screen.

The waitress circles them, refilling and clearing. The bartender watches over her. The other white men – some balding, some not, some with a wedding band and others merely with an untanned strip where a previous reminder of loyalty lay – pass sideward glances.

Everyone is gathered for football. Everyone is thinking of that night’s lay.

The girl’s laugh is surprisingly loud as if that tiny body could no longer hold all the mirth within.

As the night grows old and the beer grows warm, his interest in football wavers. Briefly. Goal! He is immersed right back into the 70-inch screen.

She senses a waning interest and smartly throws her bare, shapely legs over the arm of the chair, and he instinctively reaches for one, and strokes it. Absentmindedly.

She tugs at his shirtsleeves, her laugh now a tinkle. He leans over and bumps forehead with her, going straight back to the game.

She rises. Pats the skirt over her ample rump, and sways to the washroom.

In the white man’s country, would she even be considered old enough to be allowed into the sports bar?

She has his attention now. The sweating men on screen forgotten briefly.

The game ends. Everyone seems gregarious and disappointed at the same time.

The other white men watch the coupling of this pair, that should have been unusual, but is all too common. In impoverished nations around the world, young girls wait for an escape. A smitten old man is a start.

Lonely white men, I can’t speak for.

Note: An after-hours story from my recent work trip to Ethiopia