(Gray News) – “There can’t be a sadder image than a guy in a suit at Outback Steakhouse alone on Valentine’s Day.”
That was one man’s Valentine’s hypothesis Thursday night, and he set out to prove it. At least one waiter who tried to cheer him up and the couple who took pity on him and wound up paying his tab agreed.
The only thing was he didn’t actually have a date to stand him up.
Twitter user @baconflavoring, who identified himself in a direct message by his first name, Stephen, posted a thread detailing his plan to sit for dinner and see “if I went to Outback Steakhouse by myself tonight and asked for a table for 2, then got progressively sadder as the night went on alone, do you think they’d give my steak for free?”
In the thread, he outlined a journey from eager date waiting for his Valentine, to sad man sitting alone with an untouched decanter of white wine, to the resilient underdog around which his small Outback Steakhouse community rallied.
He said the idea came to him Thursday afternoon and his sister egged him on to do it. He said he chose Outback to test his theory because, well, he loves the place.
“The steak? Elite. The price? Elite. The faint idea I might be in Australia? Elite,” Stephen said.
He called ahead for a table, and when he arrived he was told he still had a 10 minute wait or so.
“Oh that’s okay, this works perfectly – she said she was running a bit late anyway,” he told the front desk.
Of course, “she” wasn’t running late, because there was no “she.” But a few minutes later, he posted a picture of his table set for two and, to let followers know how serious he was, posted a selfie of himself actually wearing a suit.
He tweeted that he told his waiter, “I remember she said she loved chardonnay so why don’t we start with a glass of that,” when he ordered drinks.
A little while later, he left a pretend voicemail as his waiter walked by. “I’m here, let me know when you’re on your way.”
He posted a picture after he finished the first loaf of bread, and of the fake gift he rigged together out of a jumper cable bag and shoebox paper.
Then, 17 minutes after he finished the first loaf of bread, he posted a picture after finishing the second.
Eventually, about 45 minutes in and no date in sight, he figured it was time to really sell it and drink down the wine.
“I’m going to wait until my waiter comes by and I’m gonna finish the wine in one swig from the decanter – no glass necessary,” he tweeted.
About an hour after posting the picture of his table, he wrote that he was going ahead and ordering his steak.
The waiter, at that point, was “walking on EGGSHELLS around me” he wrote. “I’ve never seen someone scoop glassware as smoothly as he took the untouched glass and empty decanter from the table.”
He was getting looks. Waitstaff were talking about him. It was noticeable.
“The menu is gone but my forlorn lover lives on in the form of water, silverware, and a lone plate,” he wrote.
He named the fake date Katherine.
“Katherine is a consultant at Deloitte. She lives in Arlington, that’s why I chose this spot,” he wrote, giving life to the nonexistent date. “We met at the grocery store. We both went for the same bag of shredded cheese. She seemed so excited for our Valentine’s Day date.”
Finally, his steak arrived, after the restaurant had already closed, to really drive home the whole sad sight.
“I have started crying,” he wrote.
Then his guardian angel couple came to his rescue. They had been sitting at the bar, and apparently felt bad for the lone man sitting in a suit at an Outback on Valentine’s Day.
“It was 10:30 and I thought I was definitely paying for it myself,” he said over direct message. “They were the last ones to get up and they walked by and apologized and said to me that it shouldn’t get me down.”
Then, they told him, “We got you babe.”
The waiter, too, finally came by.
“He put his hand on my shoulder, looked me dead in the eye like a father about to tell his son that grandma died, and said, ‘Take care of yourself. Don’t let them get you down.’”
Stephen, of course, wasn’t down, because he wasn’t actually stood up.
And everybody won in the end – Stephen got a free steak, the waiter got a good tip, the couple performed a nice act and Stephen paid their good deed forward with a $50 donation to the ACLU.
Well, almost everyone.
Katherine, he wrote, “may have just missed out on her future husband.”