I think my hair looks okay. It should look okay. I checked myself in the mirror before I left the house. But it was breezy and kind of wet out, so maybe it’s no longer in the shape I tried so hard to achieve. I briskly walk down the street and smooth my hand over any hairs that may have gone astray.
I’m locked in this nice gallop as I make my way to the bar. I don’t want to be late. I want to be early so I can wait outside for her. I don’t want to get there, and go inside, and scan the dimly lit space for a woman I’ve only seen in pictures. Strangers never seem to look the same in person as they do in pictures. Before you can attach conversation, wit, tonal patterns, humor, and energy to a person they seem to only convey a distant mystical version of a person. A picture lives on as a legendary moment. The real person doesn’t achieve that status until they have become a distant memory.
I arrive and scan around. Everyone seems to be accompanied by a companion, so I post up outside with my hands in my pockets and a smile on my face. My hips sway as my legs grind out a moving trot to a song in my head. Every woman who turns the corner I try and lock eyes, but it’s never her.
After fifteen minutes I glance in the window and see a lonely girl tending to a glass of wine… could that be her? She’s looking down and I can’t see her face. I look back toward the street and slowly spin around. I look back in, and I think I notice that same slender face with the upturned nose. I brush my shirt off, take a deep breath, and waltz confidently through the door.
With hellos, an apology, and some laughter over the confusion we stumble into conversation. As it progresses we laugh and ping pong dialogue back and forth to a comfortable rhythm. When she holds the conversation I take a nice drink from my beer. I tip toe my remarks into the best places to interject her speech and keep things going.
A picture lives on as a legendary moment. The real person doesn’t achieve that status until they have become a distant memory.
Am I letting her talk too much? She seems to hardly be drinking her wine. I suppose I should slow down and let her catch up to me. I don’t want to order another drink if she’s already planning on leaving. Though she does seem to be having a good time. I wonder if she’s from New York City. She seems confident, maybe even too much so. Like she could be very difficult to impress with anything.
I’m trying to dance along with the conversation as I twirl my glass with my right hand. Do I look nervous if I slowly fidget with my glass like this? I just like to play with things when I have lots of energy, especially a tinge of nervous energy. But she finally finishes her drink. I think it’s time to order another as soon as the waiter resumes his position behind the bar. I can see him approaching and eyeing our empty glasses, so I ask her if she wants to get another drink.
As she hesitates an answer my confidence withdraws. Was I that wrong to assume she was having a good time? She seemed to be enjoying herself. And as I sit here now, after an hour of building this new human connection, I feel almost fooled… but she suggests that we head back to the neighborhood we both seem to inhabit, and continue our night there.
As we saddle up and leave I notice that the streets have grown dark and the lights have begun to glow and haze through the glasses on my eyes.
When we depart from the subway, she brings to my attention that she’s more hungry than thirsty, and we find food and a place to sit before those precious drinks can resume.
She’s already only wearing a bra and little running shorts. I don’t think she runs at all.
After brief snacks I inquire if she’d still like to find a place to drink since it’s early in the evening. But to my surprise, she’s tired, or has to wake up early, or just isn’t interested in continuing what we’ve started. She exchanges numbers almost with reluctance, and we part. I don’t feel good about this end.
I trudge down the street with a confused speech. I thought things had gone right, or at least pretty nicely. Conversation never seemed to slow the entire night. Why wouldn‘t she want to see where things could go?
I pull my phone out and call Carly. She’s chipper, drinking, and smiling through the phone. I un-tuck my shirt as I walk down into the subway. As I arrive at the platform, a breeze from the oncoming train rushes through the strands of my hair, allowing them to dance and wrestle one another. I let out a sigh of relief as I grasp the metal bar and steady my weight.
Knocking only twice, Carly arrives at the door laughing. I waddle in and take a seat at the counter. I pour myself my own glass of whiskey and spin around in the stool. As she’s changing the music she begins to go on about uptight people she can’t stand working with at the diner.
I watch her waddle her hips as she peruses through her songs. She’s already only wearing a bra and little running shorts. I don’t think she runs at all. She has a small stomach and has claimed many resolutions to start exercising, but has never taken much initiative. Her nose is kind of fat and slopes down. Her eyes are slightly sunken in while she always seems to have shadows under them. And she has a small scar on her chin.
But I finish my drink, and as her song begins to play she undresses as she sways herself and wanders toward my seat. My shirt is off and the band plays louder. I’m counting the times I’ve stumbled on a conversation. Remembering the what-ifs, and should-haves of the distant past. I lean back in the chair and recount the evening. The alcohol slows my memory. I look at the ceiling and notice the repainted spackle. My mind drifts into elation as I question whether to sleep here tonight. Her lumpy bed is no place to call home, but it’s nice to have a comfortable place to lay.