Can things get any worse? I mean, obviously they can but I don’t even want to imagine how. Mass shootings, Charlottesville, the Muslim Ban. Ignorance, fear, prejudice, and hatred everywhere you look. How did we manage to take such a huge leap backwards so quickly?

Despite all the ugliness, I still believe that the day will come where we own up to the wrongs that have been perpetrated against the Other, check our privilege, and collectively say, enough is enough. No, actually Alex, I don’t think I’m being a Pollyanna. I just think the resurgence of nationalism, racism, and xenophobia we’re seeing is the last gasp of a doomed mindset that will be relegated to the dustbin of history. Maybe not in our lifetimes but some day.

How long has it been since we ordered those pot stickers? Damn, I know they’re busy but this is ridiculous.

Sure, Anna, I agree the struggle is real and there’s no guarantee of victory. Sometimes it’s like one step forward two steps back, you know? But I remain optimistic.

Take the whole Harvey Weinstein thing. It reminds me of the Introduction to Feminist Theory class I took junior year. At the beginning I was like hey, slow down with the man hatred, Professor Meyer. But near the end of the course, it really hit me — systemic female oppression is a fact. And I’m as guilty as any other man. That was a reality check for me.

OK, seriously, who do you have to blow to get some food around here? Christ, it took 15 minutes for our waitress to even acknowledge our existence and now the appetizers are taking forever. I guess that’s what we get for choosing a graduate school in a flyover state, huh?

You know what I started reading the other day? How the Other Half Lives by Jacob Riis. I can’t believe I’d never read it before. It’s a classic — as timely today as it was over 100 years ago. And the photos are heartbreaking. Barefoot children in rags sleeping on a fire escape? God, what a gut punch those are.

Alex, could you stop our goddamn waitress when you see her? Wave your hands over your head like a drowning man if you have to. I’m so fucking weak with hunger I can’t even move. And I really need another IPA.

I mean, despite all the injustice and misery in the world, I still believe that the trajectory of history is toward greater self-awareness, expansion of consciousness, and dare I say it, greater empathy and love for our fellow human beings. I know that sounds so “Dawning Of the Age of Aquarius” but…

Motherfucker! She’s chatting with the goddamn bartender now. I swear to God, I’m going to lose my mind! Hold up. Holy shit everyone, did you see that when she raised her arm to pat the bartender on the shoulder? She has, oh man, it’s too good to be true, a tattoo on her arm of — wait for it — a dolphin inside a Harley Davidson logo! No, I swear to fucking God, it’s true! Comedy has broken out in the midst of tragedy.

Oh, you’re an angel for tracking her down, Anna. She said the pot stickers will be right out? I’ll believe it when I see it. But what if just when the appetizers are ready she disappears into the backroom to have the bartender give her a tattoo of a ’64 Impala parked inside a giant daisy and we never get our food? Stop, stop, Alex, you’re making me spit water through my nose! This shit is priceless.

It’s such a fraught time we live in. It’s like we’re standing on the precipice of history and we have to decide which way we’re going to go: toward the abyss of division and violence or toward greater tolerance and brotherhood. Am I deceiving myself that there’s a chance we’ll have the courage to make the right choice?

For fuck’s sake, will this nightmare never end? I can see she’s slammed but 20 minutes to get a check? I don’t think we’re going to make it to McSorley’s to get those half price mojitos before they close. I just wanted to have a meal and good conversation with friends after a long week of studying and it turns into this fucking debacle. I seriously feel screwed. Straight up mistreated. How much are you leaving for a tip, Anna? 15%? That is more than enough, my friend. I’m going with 10%. I’ll never be back here again, believe me.