Being Alone

Part I: I am not alone

“Are you here alone?” asked a rather impatient server. I feel the need to reply with an emphatic “yes” but remember that I am in fact waiting for someone. The reality is that I have been here before with this server. He was here the last time I went on a date at this bar, and judging by how poorly that date went I can fully understand why he would assume that not just this night, but every night from now on I would be spending drinking alone.

“Are you going to be needing these stools?” he asks, gesturing to the empty ones sitting next to me. As if not believing or perhaps not hearing my previous confirmation that I was expecting company. “Why yes I am, I am hoarding them to have a monopoly on seating, now kindly fuck off, I know how capitalism works.” I almost blurt out before instead mentioning that I have a date coming. He walks away to fetch my drink.

The problem with waiting for my date is I did not bring a book, and can only check the news or Facebook for so long before resorting to people watching for amusement. Of course I am not discreet about it. I open my eyes wide and stare directly at the nearest couple.

I witness not one but two couples breaking up while waiting for my date/drink.

“Are you fucking kidding me, what am I going to do with the tickets?” the clearly scorned gentleman asks.
“I’m sorry, I just don’t think it would be appropriate. You could always take Bill.” the lady replies before the gentleman throws down a few bills and storms out of the bar.

I am glad to have the waiter’s attention directed towards a clearly more awkward scene. He shifts his gaze from the girl, now alone at the table, to the other table that has a sobbing woman who is clearly in disbelief that she just got dumped. I’m beginning to think this is just the bar that people go to for breakups. Which would certainly be fitting.

Part II: … But I will probably end up alone.

Bukowski’s Bar is typically filled with people Bukowski himself would want to punch in the dick, asshats in sports hats who use “Bro” as a colloquial greeting. Yet their propensity for serving cheap booze and white trash food make it a palatable date establishment. On my previous encounter with the server I chose the only available table. The one in the corner elevated above the rest and under the TV, which conveniently that night was showing a playoff hockey game, this meant all eyes were effectively on me, or at least on the spot directly above me.

Per usual, the server took one look at me and asked “You alone tonight?” and per usual, I said, “Nope, waiting for a date.” The arrival of my date, a mere 10 seconds later, was perfectly timed to coincide with my stern look in his general direction.

“What will you be having?” he asked.
“Do you have a good Pinot Grigio?” she replied.
He nodded, recited some name, and she nodded in agreement. “And you?”
“I will have the 40 of Old English, and does that still come with the free hotdog?”
Staring at me in almost complete disbelief, my date asked with a discernable level of disgust, “They serve 40s here?”
“Yup, so what do you do for fun?” I ask beginning the boring, tedious, and unfortunately expected, standard dating questions.

As our drinks arrived, mine in the traditional brown bag (to her even greater dismay) we began to get acquainted. Frankly we had no shared interests, and the date was quickly spiraling to an early conclusion, but then I slipped up…

“So you write?” she asked, clearly having done a little better job reading my OkCupid profile than I did reading hers.
“What do you write?”
“I am an essayist for the most part, creative non-fiction, and lately I have been blogging a lot.” I reply before realizing all too late I should have left the last part off.
“Oh, what do you blog about?” she asked, as I scrambled to come up with a way of adequately framing he truth.
“Well… you see… I write this relationship blog, about how I am terrible at relationships. It’s meant to be funny… It mostly goes over dates I have had and makes fun of how bad I am at them… It’s funny and self-deprecating, don’t worry you won’t make the blog.” I say to her incredulous shock, and utter disbelief.
“Am I gonna make the blog?” she asks, a little concerned, and completely ignoring my final statement.
“No,” I reply, before feeling the need to elaborate, “Not everything makes the blog, just stories of insane horridness or stories that make me look like a jackass, and this date does not appear to be heading in either of those two directions.”

She looked a little pensive, and worse still, even though there was clearly no chemistry, she stuck it out (having switched to water instead of wine) in an attempt to convince me that there was nothing interesting to write about on this date.  In fact for the next (and thankfully final) hour of our date she repeatedly asked if she was going to make the blog. I insisted she wasn’t, but she kept asking, and finally just before she left she asked one more time:

“So, you are sure I am not gonna make the blog, right?”

Having responded to this 17 times already, I finally snapped. “No! Frankly you are just not interesting enough!” I said, realizing all eyes, including the waiters were now firmly fixed on me, and  that she had in fact succeeded in accomplishing the exact opposite of her goal.

I did not let her know about her ironic failure. She left. The server approached me after hearing my last emphatic statement, and calmly asked, “Did you want the check?”

I smiled at him.

“Nope, another 40 please and another hotdog please.”

I may be drinking alone, but at least no one looks at me disapprovingly as I lick the mustard of my shirt collar.*

*Editor’s note: You were in a crowded bar and you just made a scene. Don’t fool yourself: you were getting disapproving looks.

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