A Profound Belizian Bartender’s Theory On Love

Decisions were made, and judgment was levied

Time To Read: 5 mins | November 29, 2016

She was beautiful, blonde, and designed breast milk.

I remember other details, of course, but it was 10pm and the two of us had been trying our hardest to drain the island of rum. So by the end of the night, some of the facts were foggy. Like, for instance, her name. I can say with some certainty that it started with a consonant.

She was Belgian. I remember that bit because of a mental association with waffles. And, because you’re still wondering, she was a chemistry student whose focus was developing nutritional formula for infants. She had a month off of school, so was traveling alone for the holidays.

It was her first night in San Pedro, an island off the coast of Belize. We met in the bar located under her hostel – I was there because it was the only place showing the Cowboy’s game, she was there for lack of anything better to do.

Some local guy had been chatting her up for the better part of the evening, but I swooped in the moment he went to the bathroom.


A small bladder is the undoing of many a would-be Casanova.

On this occasion, I was particularly bad off the cuff, unable to say anything beyond commenting on her shoes (which, for reasons I don’t understand, nearly always works). But she tolerated me long enough for the conversation to gather momentum, and we ended up talking for the better part of two hours. We drank, laughed, and hit it off as well as two random mildly intoxicated middle-class twenty-somethings could in a foreign country.

At the time, I remember thinking this next bit was clever. The night had clearly stalled out – the Cowboys somehow lost to the Giants, and it being her first night abroad & alone, she likely wasn’t running off with some cavalier American who, while handsome and charming and obnoxiously self-assured, smelled like liquor and mistakes. Come 10:30pm, Madame Waffles was going to bed.

So I, in a moment of inspiration and stupidity (funny how often those two coincide), didn’t ask for her number. I instead invited her to dinner the next night, and proposed that we meet at the exact spot we were currently sitting in. Say, 7 o’clock?

Hashtag smooth af.

She agreed – with a charming giggly smile, I might add — and we parted ways. The Belgian went upstairs to sleep, and I hired a cab to cart me back to my apartment on the other side of the island. I brought my book and a beer to bed, but barely started on either before passing out.

Fast forward to the next evening. I’d worked all day and, in recognition of the occasion, bathed, but an hour before I was to leave, at the worst possible moment, I locked in an interview I’d been waiting on for a week. This local politician had 168 hours to choose from for our meeting, and he last minute decided on the only one that conflicted with my gorgeous foreign date.


On no other occasion would I choose a middle-aged Central American politician over, hell, any Belgian girl, but I needed the meeting for a job. And thus my evening ended before it began.

But I was left with a crisis of conscious. I didn’t have her number, had no way to contact her. We were due to meet in forty-five minutes. Of course, she may have forgotten our rendezvous or was planning to blow me off anyway, but my ego never seriously entertains such notions. So I had a horrible image of her sitting alone, waiting, like those crisis’s that happen two-thirds of the way through every rom-com. Some slow cliche Dave Matthews track would be playing in the background, and she’d sadly stare into the depths of her empty beer bottle.

I did some Googling. I found a number for the bar and called up. The female bartender who answered spoke English, which turned out to be both a blessing and curse.

“Can I help you?”

“I’m supposed to meet a girl at the bar at 7. She’s blonde, very pretty, but I can’t make it and need someone to let her know.”

“What’s her name?”

“Eh… I don’t know. But we were going to meet at the edge of the bar. She’s Belgian.”

“So, you were going to meet a pretty girl, you don’t know her name, and you want me to tell her you’re not coming?”

“…um. Yes?”

“OK. Why?”


“Work is more important than a pretty girl?”

–the conversation continued a bit longer, colored by the bartender’s disgust and disbelief, but I feel like the transcription should end on that quote. Which is, truly, a question for the ages.


photo: stairs leading to a mountaintop pyramid in tepozteco, mx

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Malcolm Freberg
Malcolm Freberg
American writer living permanently on the road. Believes rye whiskey is superior to bourbon, Belle is the best Disney princess, and that selfie sticks should be snapped in half on sight. Hosted a travel documentary for AOL & played Survivor a few times.

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