Letter from the Drinking Town #8 – Bars and Dating

Dear Worcester,

I was talking to a friend who still talks about his ex. His ex who he met at his bar. He has a bar he likes. He caught the eye of a woman who also called the bar her own. They had something in common. They both liked the same bar. There are long lived marriages based on less than that.

Now he doesn’t talk to the ex. He talks about her. To me. To other guys at the bar. But not to her.

They were a couple in the bar for over a year. They were a pair on display, a happy couple that old drunks watched with jealousy and watery eyes. They proved that bars and couples are a perfect combination. They were pleasant to talk to together or separate.

But sometimes a relationship based on feeling at home in the same piece of real estate doesn’t have enough sustenance to survive. They broke up. Then, quietly, they got back together. They went on holiday together. They told us funny stories of their vacation. They were happy and it looked just like before, the happy couple we knew.

In a month, they were broken up again.  

Now here we are. A couple that is no more. We see both them. She is with a new partner. He is focusing on his job and school, but still comes here. It is his bar after all. There is something important about that act of claiming: that “This Bar Is Mine.” It is an ancient and holy rite, to pick the bar of your soul.  I am sure she feels the same way. Sucks that both of them chose the same place.

The bartender and I both say, that’s the problem. Don’t date from your bar. Nothing good can come from that.

I saw him today and we stood drinking Guinness and talking about the situation. I should capitalize it and call it the Situation. Like an annoying camera hog from the Jersey Shore. It won’t stop mugging for attention.

My friend doesn’t waste much time talking about other things, the conversation gets to the ex. “So here’s an example. This explains what I’m talking about. The other day I get here after work and I want to have a few drinks. I want to just drink by myself. The commute to work is killing me, but work is good. I got a raise, but they expect me to work harder for that and you know, I’m trying to finish up grad school. I’m exhausted and all I want is to have a few drinks and not talk to anyone.”

Let me pause to say, that to me, that is one of the great mysteries about going to a bar. It allows you a spectrum of social possibilities. You can be greeted like Norm in Cheers or you can say hello and get back to your crossword or you can sit moping in front of your mug and no one will bother you. That’s one of the first things you learn as a bar goer, how to read the shoulders of a guy at the bar. You have to read it right. If they are hunched forward, leave that man alone. He is only here to visit his dear friend, the one in the glass, and share a whispered word. That’s the thing about bars. Course, a lot of people get it wrong. Yes, going to a bar is like learning a new language. And its slurred and full of marbles.

My friend goes on, “I am just drinking. Even Sean knew to nod at me and let me be. Then the girl came in. With her new guy. I don’t know the guy. I’m sure I don’t like him, but don’t pin me on it. But the thing is they are at the end of the bar and I’m right there by the door, I’m not noticing them. I got to say that again. I am not bothering them. I am just by myself drinking. That’s all. I’m not thinking about her. She says hi to me and I don’t say nothing.  She’s in the bar with her new guy, but I got drinking to do, I got a day to erase. Important things. And she comes over to me. Now I wasn’t looking at her, not even a sideways glance. But she comes over to me all serious and says I won’t say hi if you don’t want me to and I said, and this is all I said, I said let’s do that. I just want status quo here. I just want to drink.

“Dave, isn’t that what I was implying just from drinking at my bar, sitting by myself, talking to no one? Isn’t that what I was saying? I mean the act of not looking at anyone and drinking, that’s talking truth to power, right? That’s saying a lot, or it should. Someone should see that and know that. Anyway, she goes back to her spot at the bar and I’m focusing on my crossword and my beer. Then she comes up again and says that they are going to be playing a board game and I can come down an play with them.

“That’s what she said. That I can come down and play a dice game with them. Just twenty minutes before, she says we should avoid and ignore each other and now she wants to play a dice game with me. I give her a look, and say, I thought you didn’t want to acknowledge me. And if we don’t want to notice each other, why are you asking me to play a dice game? She shut her face and nodded with a grimace. And she goes back to her guy and I go back to my beer but I can’t really go back to my beer because now I’m pondering what the hell that was all about?

“What the hell? What did I do wrong there? What is stopping me from being at a bar, a bar I like, and just be myself? Why do I have to think about this? I don’t want to think about this. I am happy never even thinking about her. I just want to drink at my bar by myself. Why is that such a difficult proposition?”

He and I speak of this for a while. I wonder when we will be done with this conversation. I encourage him to bring a revenge girl to the bar. He says he is not into that. I wonder when the bar will return to stasis. When the status quo is people talking to each other, ignoring each, getting drunk with each other, lost in thought and never to return? When will that state show up?

The bartender and I both say, that’s the problem. Don’t date from your bar. Nothing good can come.

Thanks for listening to my rambling, maybe next time, I will have something new to say. But we are talking about bars, right? And when is there anything new there?

Till Next Time



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