On St. Patrick’s Day I clocked outta work and stopped for a drink at American Social before joining Bob and Lynda at their apartment, and I had two interesting experiences while there.
- The first interesting thing was just an image. I was being reckless, because there were so few seats, and I asked a gentleman in his 50s if I could take the stool directly beside him. He said sure. Big smile, magnanimous. And so I was sitting there by myself, just killing time, and I happened to notice that he had his phone resting flat on the bar. He was swiping through old photos of himself. Looks like they were from the 1990s. Eventually he settled on a single photo of himself, young and beardless and spry, with his arm around a woman. They’re both smiling and appear to be at a theme park or a fair or something. He zooms in on the faces in the photo. And then, with his elbows on the bar, he just stares at it: his young self, the woman in his embrace (Sister? Girlfriend? Cousin?). He didn’t look bereaved, but he looked extremely pensive. It stayed with me.
- Then, on my left, one of the bartenders who’d just wrapped her shift came and sat with me. She was already a little tipsy cuz she clocked out like thirty minutes prior to this and as soon as she sat down as a customer, still sweaty from her shift, she was greeted by a regular who’s in love with her. Older guy. We’ll call him Tony. Tony’s got lots of money and wears a fedora. He’s all friendly conversation but, notoriously, if the dude has just a sip of liquor he starts proposing marriage to this bartender in a very earnest way. Close to tears. He tells her he’s at a point in his career where he only shows up and goes through the motions because it’s something to fills his days, which are otherwise so lonesome and bereft of meaning. But he says that he’s worked so much over the past thirty years, there’s still a life he has to live, so he’s got this fantasy that the two of them can just abscond to the caribbean or something. Smoke pot and eat pancakes and rub their tongues over each other for the next quarter century and thus his youth will be recaptured, the past undone, the fruits of his labors enjoyed at last. Whatever the case: he’d just been talking to her and buying her shots until, for the dozenth time, she gently refused his offers of eternity. Tony met the rejection with a stiff lip and scribbled a hasty tip on his check and left. So she comes over, a little tipsy, and she leans in close to tell me, over the roar of surrounding conversation, about the situation with Tony and then, more passionately, her tattoos. The meaning of each one. She tells me how attracted she is to men with tribal tattoos and that this affinity stands at painful odds with her general disdain and -trust of cops–the bulk of whom, in Miami, are so egregiously drawn up in just such a way. As she speaks she grabs my wrist and touches my thigh and puts her shoulder up to mine, her mouth right up to my ear, and in all the closeness I can smell her perfume and the whole thing is just this very stark reminder that, my dude, it’s been a while. Not just since I slept with somebody but since I went on a date. A couple months, I think. Not only that: it’s been a while since I’ve even been to a bar in another person’s company, speaking closely with each other. I wrote recently about this woman at a Brickell Avenue bar who was striking up conversation with strangers, trying to get them to buy her drink, and at one point, for the guy she ended up going off with, she just rested her head on his shoulder. The dude was in the company of a friend and tried to play it cool but I could see his body language changing. He was melting into it. Wasn’t just turned on by the gesture, he was warmed by it.
Anyway. Eventually I had to leave and she asked me what I was doing later and I told her I’d be at my friends’ place and she said, “No, later later,” and I was like, “Neither of us is gonna be in our right mind later later.” She laughed and we hugged and I left and had a nice night.
Drunk, I forced Bob & Lynda to watch Joe Biden’s interview on ABC from that morning cuz I thought he was so remarkably straightforward and cool.
It was a proper St. Paddy’s.