The roommate wants to celebrate his promotion again but in a louder way. His favorite bar is 1-800-Lucky in Wynwood so he invites me to join him and a close friend. We get there at around 8. It’s a big place with two bars, a patio, a foodcourt and a record store in the back.
Roommate gets some food and I join him at a patio table. I’m biding time, tryna get drunk enough to socialize with strangers cuz they’re everywhere.
I ask the roommate probably a dozen times what I should say to people and he gives advice, and so does his friend, but the place is so fucking loud, you almost have to talk with people cheek-to-cheek, so yeah they’re giving me cool suave things to say but it loses a lot of its charm when you have to shout it.
“YOUR HAIR LOOKS GOOD!”
Eventually I go to one of the bars (the quieter indoor bar) and I’m a little tipsy already cuz I got a headstart at home and when the bartender, who’s very pretty with long brown hair and dark glasses, asks how the night is going I shout back that it’s fine but that I’m not really sure how to strike up conversation or meet people.
Bartender gives a sympathetic nod. Says this isn’t her scene either.
Heartened to’ve found a kindred spirit, feeling the booze, I go a step further and tell her I got out of a relationship not too long ago – cuz why the fuck not shout this to strangers? – and that I’m slowly getting out and about, trying to meet people, but that this place is too alive and feels like going from a crawl to a sprint.
Surprisingly, she nods, “I just got out of a relationship too. I’m tryna do the same thing but,” she shrugs, “no luck.” Says that she prefers a quiet bar. “Especially for dates.” She lets eye contact kinda linger.
It lingers cuz I’m tryna process her answer and body language and whether the two of em together suggest something more than the sum of her words. Then, afraid I’m overstaying my welcome, I tell her I’m gonna take another shot at socializing and she wishes me luck and I go back to the patio, kinda giddy, and interrupt my roommate’s conversation with a gorgeous woman to tell him I think the bartender mighta been…not flirting, exactly, but something close.
He blinks at me. “OK. So go talk to her.”
But she’s working and the bar’s super busy and I’m probably drunker and more annoying than I think. Maybe I was misreading her. Cuz I mean that woulda been pretty forward of her, right, to just start talking about how she likes the same kinda dates that I like? Like, too obvious. Like if she walked in from the rain and said, “Oh I’m so wet right now.” My head’s just in the gutter. I’m hearing things I want to hear.
At the indoor bar by myself a few minutes later the same bartender as before serves me another drink and we have a little banter but it’s busy and she gets swept away.
Back on the patio I make a nuisance of myself by clinging to my roommate and his friend. Making eye contact with strangers and getting close to saying something but then they turn away and I shrink. Eventually I decide to do one more lap around the place.
I stop in the food court and lean on a counter and finish my beer. At first I’m looking around for someone to talk with and then eventually I’m just thinking, staring at nothing. What am I doing here? Etcetera.
I go back to the patio and my roommate.
“I’m gonna take off.”
“Yeah. But I think I’m gonna ask the bar tender out.”
He grabs my shoulder. “Do it.”
For some reason I start giving voice to all this dread. Like what if I get shot down and the people beside me overhear?
He waves it away. “You’re never gonna see these people again. Do it.”
I go to the bar and ask the pretty bar tender for my check. She gets my license and debit card from behind the bar and rings me up and brings me all my stuff. We lean on the bar from opposite ends.
I say, “So you really don’t like this kinda place?”
“Nope. I like quiet bars. Can’t go on a date with someone if you can’t talk to em.”
(She’s doing it again!)
“Sooo uh…” signing the bill, eye contact all dodgy, “would you wanna maybe go to a quiet bar with me sometime?”
She leans in, squinting, confused.
A group beside us just took shots (“…abajo, adentro…!”) and now they’re coughing and clapping for themselves.
“What?” The pretty bartender cups her ear toward me.
I say again the thing I just said. More or less.
She makes an expression like Oh and leans back and she says maybe twenty words before her colleague smacks her elbow, impatient, and then she’s gotta boogie.
I didn’t hear a word of it.
I fill out the receipt and bail. So embarrassed. I walk three blocks to burn the energy and then stand on a strange corner and call an Uber. When I get to the apartment I make some ramen and let the puppy chew on my hand while I browse YouTube.
After getting into bed I replay the
encounter in my head over and over, spinning it to seem like I did the right
thing and I guess it works cuz eventually I fall asleep.