My ongoing tales from a bar stool…
September 20, 2017
Today was one of those days where the work kept coming and I couldn’t step outside, away from my desk, away from my apartment. So at 9:42pm (or thereabouts), I gathered my stack of papers and walked through the Indian summer night to a cocktail bar.
Empty. Playing slow songs by jazz greats. Candles lighting the countertop. Perfect. Only three women sat at a table behind me, speaking in acronyms, talking about boys.
(Nobody should speak out loud in acronyms. Especially “A.F..” Jesus. Throw down the full “fuck”. Don’t be shy. Profanity. Cussing. Annunciation. P.S. I will say P.S. out loud with no regrets.)
Towards the end of my first and only Manhattan, and 9 pages into editing, a trio stormed in – two men and a woman, business attire, jovial. As she sat, she sang out:
“You were working as a waitress in a cocktail bar, when I met you. I picked you out, I shook you up. And turned you around. Turned you into someone new.”
In perfect harmony. Stumbling in her step. Uninhibited in voice. A California girl (revealed later in conversation), with two Brits (revealed the moment they spoke).
They were all slurring. Laughing. Out on a Tuesday night. In town for a conference. Throwing down a forceful “bollocks” here and there.
Until, as though the wind changed, they sobered. And the California girl turned serious and segued into science, talking math and technology and mega watts (she did actually say “mega watts” several times). And the men silenced and listened and nodded their heads. She serenaded them (and me) with science. And I loved her for it.
There’s no real point to this story. Just an observation of a woman owning science, in a bar, on a Tuesday.
September 16, 2017
I accidentally left my phone at home when I stepped out of the apartment this evening. I wasn’t planning to be gone long – one or two glasses of wine with my pen and paper at a regular spot.
It was glorious. No communication. No distraction. Aware of everything……
My breath, as it dove to the depths of my lungs, not surfacing again until it slowly traveled through my body, grazing against my insides.
Waiting for the door near my bar stool to open to feel the breeze come. To feel it tunnel beneath my skirt and let the fabric tease its touch. I anticipated, I hoped for more patrons to come and go.
The server’s red lipstick that looked like strawberries laid down and died across her lips.
Every oyster – all their blobs and globs – sliding down my throat. I ordered three, it felt like ten.
The chip in my crimson nail polish that, until now, had evaded attention.
The way the woman next to me consistently pressed her hand to her friend’s arm in conversation. Red nails like mine. I heard her crush the ice in her mojito like a glacier crashing through the window.
When I touched my lips with my fingers, I felt all the ridges. I think of lip gloss. I think of kissing. It’s been a long time. I wonder if I’d remember how. I think about what it would be like to kiss the bartender. The dirt clings to the seams of his jeans – too busy for laundry or denim designed to look that way, or is he too dirty to clean? Regardless, I liked it.
I noticed the waistband on my skirt holding my torso together.
And when I drank from my water glass, I wanted to hold the fluid in my mouth for many moments before swallowing. Keeping the cold near and under and above my tongue.
My movements were slow to experience each second as though they are minutes. Slow as the candle in front of me dripping hot wax down its neck.
I’m leaving my phone at home more often.
August 3, 2017
Drinking a glass of French rosé at a restaurant on Ossington. Because, summer. Because, writing at a bar.
A witchy woman, short blonde hair pale as Pinot Grigio, carrying a long stick, enters. Before joining a friend, she touches the stick to my shoulder, “There, now you’re magic.” Finally. Confirmation.
Moments later, she asks how my rosé tastes. I tell her it’s dry. I offer her a taste. Because, community. Because, bonding. And, because, two weeks ago such an act began a night of revelry with a young(er than me) fellow from Texas. Friendships are born from sharing. Right?
She looks at me like I’m ripe with the plague or like I’ve asked her to do something else with her mouth. She looks at my glass like it’s festering with fleas.
I thought I was better at hiding my dirty. I thought I was magic. Dammit.
April 17, 2017
After a delightful lunch at The Waring House, a small town pub in Prince Edward County, my traveling companion suggests we return later so I can ask the bartender for his number. Having been single for longer than I’d like to reflect on, I think, yes, it’s high time I take some initiative. There was flirting. We joked. He was handsome. So, why not? I’ll be back at some point this summer – maybe we can have a drink, get married, have seven kids…
I stride into the charming pub, a little flushed, a little invigorated, and find he is no longer at the bar. The woman there asks if she can help me. I panic. My only reason for being there is to ask her co-worker for his phone number. I can’t tell her this. I am suddenly embarrassed and flustered and my brain freezes and melts.
I sputter out, “I think I left something here.”
“What did you lose?” she asks.
I pause for what feels like one thousand minutes, before I say the only item that comes into my mind. “A glove. I think my glove fell out of my purse.” Take note: It’s 18 or so degrees Celsius outside. Blue skies. I am only wearing a sweatshirt. Nobody is wearing gloves.
The bar woman starts opening cupboards, looking through lost and found. Other patrons are looking under their bar stools. I’m babbling about the glove and its potential whereabouts. She asks what it looks like. I’m wishing the wood flooring breaks beneath my feet and I fall into the earth.
“Hi,” a man behind me says. Him. The bartender.
“She left her glove here,” the woman says.
“A glove?” the bartender isn’t buying it. He’s smart. Another reason why I like him. “Just one glove?”
My organs are now shutting down. I nod.
“Does it fit me?” he asks.
“Do you have it?” I ask.
He knows there is no glove. I know there is no glove. His co-worker is still looking for the goddamn glove. He’s smiling. He’s thinking this whole situation is hilarious, waiting for me to fess up. But I’ve already lost my nerve. My tongue twists out some words – something like, maybe it will turn up in the car. And I bolt.
I leave the pub gloveless and numberless, sweaty and red, and I hop into the car like it’s a bank robbery getaway.
Maybe I’ll stay single for awhile longer…
Thanks for encouraging me to grab hold of life, Jessica (and also for the ensuing laughs). Clearly, I’ve gotta get out more and practice. And, fellas, much respect… asking people out is hard.
February 25, 2017
A few months ago, on a quiet weekday afternoon in New York, I sat alone at the bar in Gemma at The Bowery Hotel. There was only one other there, sitting a few seats from me. Eventually, we started to talk. The kind of open and intimate conversation that seems so easy with strangers. One of those topics was about the future and fate and all the psychics in New York. He suggested we visit one to satiate our curiosity. We did.
The fortune teller was sure we had been friends forever. Our energy told her so. We parted ways that evening – no names, no phone numbers, just a moment between two strangers, who seemed like friends.
A writing project has me thinking about this moment and fate and coincidence. Our future isn’t in the stars, it’s in the energy inside us, the energy we express. Maybe it’s caught in the lines of our palms and the rhythm of our breath and the madness of our minds. There for others to read. There attracting the same. That’s what determines destiny. That’s what summons serendipity.