Sunday, February 10

The Most Beautiful Girl In The Bar

FOR TWO DAYS I had decided that I was going to break the habit and go out on Friday night; a desire to write had been dampened by a number of consecutively fruitless evenings, and I was in the mood for something different. I chose the bar on the strength that the happy hour – a straight half off all drinks – lasted from five till nine.
I was joined by W—. (It may be worth noting at this point that I described W—h quite concisely and approvingly on an old blog that was found by my colleagues; this affection for W— was quickly leapt upon and I was ridiculed for it. To this day I wonder if he remembers that.) We stood up on the mezzanine. The tall windows of the bar were darkened by the night and the side streets. Music played and the bar was dimly lit.
There was a good proportion of women to men. As he talked to me I listened keenly and looked at the women. I saw the men talking to those women, too, and felt a little envious. ‘Behind you,’ I told W—, ‘is a really gorgeous girl.’ He turned and saw her—
‘Fuckin’ hell, she’s beautiful!’
‘She is! I love her hair, and her pale skin. She is all skin and bone.’
‘She’s really beautiful.’
So, I had found the most beautiful girl in the bar.
Very quickly, my senses unhardened to the atmosphere, I became very nervous and dissatisfied with everyone in the bar. They were all young and kind to the eye, and I felt like I was not of them but looking on from a vast distance. Their fashion, their carry, was something I could not understand. Many of the young women I dreamed of talking to, but had nothing to say. My frustration quickly disfigured into anger. Still, W— was good company.
It was only when I went for a cigarette in the rain that my sorry state hit me:
In the summer the smoking area – despite being near some large bins – was always full and an interesting place to be. I had been with W— then, and the night was so good, even when a Polish lady of outstanding breeding asked that I roll her a cigarette. Now, in the wet winter, everything seemed more miserable.
An old colleague was promising to come along, raising my spirits. Also, the husband of a former colleague – a gentleman I had grown a fondness for, if only because he loved music enough to hold a discussion about the quality of Skip James and Leonard Cohen with me – was coming along.
In the mood for something greater, I requested a song off the d.j. ‘Yeah, sure. I’ll play it.’
Everything was looking up.
My other friends showed up, then W— left. We all talked and I forgot about the people around me and of the women. They were still around me, enjoying lives I secretly craved and openly criticized, but I was not thinking of them.
However, there is only a certain number of people you can hold a door for without any of them saying ‘thank-you’ before you lose the plot; there is a certain number of draughts of perfume that can float before your nose before you doubt your senses.
We talked about music and guitars and our respective jobs. My former colleague’s husband played me some music and I made notes. We laughed. We ordered round after round.
These men had partners, and I did not. They had reasons to leave and I only had reasons to stay. One of them left, then the other.
I was alone, finishing my drink.
I went to the toilet, ready to leave, and when I came back up the d.j. was playing the song I had requested. I had forgotten about requesting it; the optimism I had felt when I did so had left me alone. Feeling it rude to make my exit, I stayed but it was awkward. I stood next to the d.j. booth and thanked him. He went back to his phone. I just stood there.
The misery of everything fell in on me and I could not enjoy the song at all. I fled. I got on my train, stared out of the window, thinking many thoughts, and drifted to sleep. When I awoke the train was in my station, empty.
A light rain had fallen on my hometown. Puddles lingered, slowly sipping into the earth through the drains. A night like a hundred others. They had once been so full of hope, but, like the rain, that hope had drained away. There will be other nights.

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