I slowly saunter back down the stairs I moments ago hurried up. I’m heading to the food court. Specifically, this one bar there.
I’ve never been in this one before but I’ve been in it’s sister bar in the city. To all the hip, happening people in the know it’s called TITS. Because when you put the full title of the bar into initials it spells tits. Good enough a place to drink I’ve heard from many a child.
I now have fifty minutes to kill. A cold beer and a warm ball game and I’ll be just fine. My girlfriend who is going to meet me in a bar on the other side will sooner or later figure out I missed the bus. She’s good like that. I pull up a chair, order a beer and proceed to attempt to forget the last hour of my life.
I’m sitting there watching the ballgame when a guy sits next to me. He’s making so much noise I know he wants to get a conversation going. Hey, Starshine, go talk to someone without a homicidal hair-trigger. You’ll thank me later. He asks for the beer menu then proceeds to read it for five, six, seven minutes. I’ve been tracking tight seconds for so long I’m starting to sweat thinking about how much time he’s wasting.
He motions the bartender over to make his choice. They’re out. Sort of funny. He and the bartender go back and forth. He finally picks another. Damn! This is getting funnier. Strike two. The bartender begins rattling off the beers they do have but he goes it on his own with his third choice. Boy is my mood elevated right now. I’ll admit to being a little tweaked when I missed the bus. But this guy’s utter failure to pick a beer is cheering me up.
Thanks smelly hippie!
After a short time a woman sits to my right. I don’t engage her, she doesn’t engage me. My most successful transaction of the day. She orders two drinks and the bartender questions her. She explains that her husband is on the way. I sit there silently while three time beer picker loser boy pulls what looks like leaves and roots out of plastic bags. They are all meticulously handled so they must have meaning to him. Which he desperately wants to explain to me as he shakes and holds the plastic bags aloft. Ah, back off, pinecone, I don’t have time for another cult.
After one beer he left. I asked the woman if she said her husband was coming. She said that she did so I moved over. I would have moved over without saying anything but I didn’t want her to think she smelled. That’s what a gentleman would do.
Her husband arrives and he is psyched. He has some amazing news and he just can’t wait to lay it on her.
“I made some reservations for our vacation.”
“Where?” His wife enthusiastically replies.
“At camp sites all over the place.”
“Why would think I’d like that?”
“It’ll be great!”
And for the entire time I sat there he tried to explain to his bride how great it would be to camp out. And for the entire time I sat there she pretty much told him it was a stupid idea and that he should just go shit in his hat.
I never met these people and, even without her objections, I knew it was a terrible idea. Every time she’d ask a good question like, “What are we going to do for a tent?” His response was,
“Borrow it from so and so.”
“Borrow it from so and so.”
“Borrow it from so and so.”
Not a man of the wild I take it.
I chuckled as I paid my tab knowing if that outdoor adventure every materialized she would spend the rest of their lives together reminding him just how horrible it was.
After an hours wait I’m finally on the bus. In ninety minutes or so I’ll be where I’m supposed to be and my weekend will begin. I’ll walk into the bar, say hi to my girlfriend who will tell me she’s starving, I’ll say hi to the bartender who will return the greeting but his will be better because he will have a beer in his hands for me, then, if I’m lucky, I’ll have to associate with few people after.
What I’m really looking forward to is getting home, seeing the cat and opening up a beer and relax for the first time today. My girlfriend, who has been down there all week, said she’d have some beer in the house waiting for me. Now that’s the way to start a day off. I put on my MP3 player, turn that sucker on and sit back and enjoy the ride.
We get to the destination without incident. I jump off the bus and start walking back from whence I came because, a few minutes ago, we drove by the bar I’m meeting my girlfriend in. Don’t even ask, they won’t think about letting me off there. I’ve asked a few times.
I don’t mind the walk. I get to be truly alone for the first time all day. I’m not surrounded by the sounds and smells and silly schemes of people. It’s just me and the sidewalk. I turn the corner and see the bar. I pack up my MP3 player and get ready to make my entrance.
When you open the door people can clearly see you enter but you can’t see them. It’s that dark a bar. So imagine my surprise (and dismay) when I hear,
“Who the fuck said you could come in my bar?”
It is the face of someone I haven’t spoken to in over a decade (with reason) next to her husband I haven’t spoken to in six years (no real reason – except she’s usually with him). They’re not bad people just annoying as fuck. And what do I truly need after this adventure? That’s right! Someone I avoid at home because she’s as annoying as fuck.
I can feel my body slumping as I walk in the bar. The woman jumps up and gives me the usual big hug and kiss. I wave at my girlfriend as this is happening. She gives me a look that’s half ‘I feel your pain’ and half ‘fuck you! I’ve been putting up with this for almost two hours now.’ I feel her pain.
I chat with the guy with the wife talking over us the whole time. I’m on autopilot. Trust me, it can seem like I’m there, engaged, witty, conversational, but the reality is I’m home with a cat and a beer wishing I had my own helicopter. And bar.
After who knows how long they exit to go to dinner. An invitation we declined due to a previously planned arrangement (I mentioned cat and beer right?). They make us swear we’ll meet them back here tomorrow night for some more cheerful bonhomie. I sincerely lie and say I couldn’t think of a better way to spend my few hours off during a week.
I finally get to chat with my girlfriend (who tells me she’s starving. You’ve been down all week. What did you do? Wait for me to get down here to eat?), tell her a cliffsnote version of this story (she is not a fan of my work) and we go get something to eat. The entire time, in the back of my head, all I’m thinking is, “Soon I get to go home for cat and beer.” That’s enough to get me through this journey.
After dinner we head home and the first thing I do is play with the cat for a moment. Give him some food. Scoop his shit. You know, bonding. I take off my shoes before heading to the refrigerator for the time in this journey I’ve been looking most forward too.
She forgot to buy beer.
So I create a immediate option B for the start of my weekend by putting this journey behind me and go to bed.