They say that there are those who enjoy finding a means of escape from this world. In particular, some who wish to find a means by which one may… elude, so to speak, some of the more alarmingly horrifying bits of reality. I don’t blame anyone for this. I, too, seek a means to my own end. But something interesting happened to me yesterday, and I hope to share this with you all.
For some of you who do not know me (who am I kidding, of course you don’t, I practically don’t exist), my 30% white hair gives me the appearance of a gruff thirty year old with little on his hands to toy with. Additionally, I don’t really get along with people younger than I, and most of my closer friends remain around the age of their early twenties. You can imagine the cultural difference that might normally exist between us. Though, call me old-fashioned and antique, that’s how I roll (and also why I can’t get along with my more modern peers)
So we’re all happy and ready to have a good night. Dad and Mum are out on their own romantic dinner and I thought it’d be nice to give them some space (they’ve devoted 17 years to my growth after all). From what they tell me over the phone, we plan to watch a movie and have a nice time at a nearby coffee shop to let loose some steam to some tea. I like the idea, at first, of course. Nothing beats spending time among friends that share your troubles, let alone understand you. Plus, they’re college students, figure I could learn a thing or two from them about the application process.
Well guess what? With their 18+ ages, I got dragged to this small time bar in the corner of Causeway, a little teenage district more or less intended for the english speaking population. It looks quaint, of course, with a nice modern and preppy aura to it that gives off a young vibe to keep spirits high… Come normal people, at least. The one thing I’ve learned most from the Academy is my often weird and foreign nature to any community. In other words, I never seem to fit in anywhere.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t like drinking (hell, I’m mostly against it because I’m not, technically, even allowed to) but I think I finally understand why people do and why I might enjoy this small time hobby… So long as the drowning in often refreshing and fancy beverages does not exceed a certain amount. I have yet to reach that point and I sorely hope I never will.
Regardless, this last night, I managed to tell myself “ah, one wouldn’t hurt.” To my surprise, nobody stopped me. Instead, I walk over to the counter, whence the bartender, a sweet looking lady who you would think you saw on television as a child music star at first, looks me in the eye for a second before leaning in closer, almost as if to catch a whiff of me. I don’t understand, of course, knowing full and well that the putrid and wet air of my home town gave everyone without artificial beauty products a rather odd smell nobody likes.
“What the hell are you doing?” I demand.
She doesn’t answer and keeps at trying to look into my soul through my irises. My eyebrow twitches and my lip sort of curls into one of disgust before she finally returns to her standing posture and raises a finger in enlightenment. I just exhale because I couldn’t think of any other way to react.
“I’ve got just the thing for you,” she says turning back to wash her hands.
I stutter and try to excuse myself by twisting my open hands, extended forwards, in denial to stop myself from doing something stupid. She comes back and calms me down with her surprisingly cool touch and soprano voice, of course, a certain cadence belonging only to a young teen. Anyone else would agree with me when I say that I question her age.
“Trust me,” she holds my wrist for a bit, “you’ll love it.”
I’m not sure what the hell to do at this point so I just kind of gape and mope about while my buddies are off in the corner, stuffing themselves with peanuts and drowning themselves in a low class ale. I’ve never been one to associate myself with females… I’ll never understand them, for sure.
“What is this?”
“She a friend of yours?”
“Yeah,” I replied, sighing and angling my phone to show her the photo, “we met a long time ago.”
“How is she?”
“She’s a tough cookie,” I chuckle, reminiscing of how she was, “God knows how many times she teased at the size of her male peers and taught us how to live happy lives… Tenacious as hell too, never gave up on anything she truly set her mind to.”
The bartender gestured for me to hand over my phone to see the picture. As many of you who know me, I don’t entirely enjoy relinquishing possession of my Iphone. Call this little quirk of mine an attempt to maintain privacy
I’d almost spoke the truth, to be honest. Many deserve to know what she decided to do despite how she revealed her intentions only to a select few, the few of which I was left excluded and learned by other means. If I remember correctly, everything had run downhill since last year when a close friend of hers started to break down. I didn’t hear much else from my old classmates and close friends about what happened, but I think I have the slightest idea of what could have, given the way she speaks and acts now.
Eventually, when November came hitherto, that smile of hers, very slowly, disappeared. Now she only lives for the moment of her death, heart-wrenching, really.
“A lot,” I try not to elaborate, leaving most of my story untold. I’d rather have one less person knowing about my past at this point.
“Sorry to hear that,” she shakes something up at this point and I’m not too sure what will happen at the time. My eyes pin onto my buddies in the corner, playing beer pong and all that stuff while I stay behind, aware of my legal and moral restrictions. A man such as I believes that the safe return of his compatriots his responsibility. Certainly, one or two of them, just about close to passing out could use a taxi real soon… And a barf bag.
“Here,” the bartender slides something over to me, slowing to a stop perfectly at the sleeve of my leather jacket, just enough to nudge me as a signal of its arrival, “it’s on the house.”
The drink swirls as I lower my head and widen my eyes to inspect the contents. Call the overly conspicuous eyeing a certain method of extensive observation, the kind that scientists tend to do when specimens start acting weird, but I couldn’t wrap my mind at how… Attractive it seemed. My curiosity must have betrayed me, however, as the bartender leaned in too, as if she took an interest as well. I could only look back up at her and then back at the drink, ignoring the cries and laughs of my companions nearby.
I hesiate while I bring the glass to upwards, not so much all the way to my lips, but just about high enough to reach the tip of my collarbone. I scrutinize the glass even more an wrinkle my nose before finally cringing a little at how strong the smell of alcohol was. The bartender didn’t seem to care though, she just sits there and waits for me, waiting to see how I would react.
“What the hell is this?” I frown and purse my lips at the strong nature of the drink at this point, irking at the stupid cup filled with a less than humbling dark liquid, cloudy at best but still somewhat translucent. She giggles a little and then pats me on the head. If only she knew how much I hate people touching my hair…
“Old fashioned,” she replies, “kind of like you.”
I scoff, one in part of surprise and amusement.
“How could you tell?” I try to inflate her ego.
“I’m a psych major,” she shrugs and grins. I can’t help but smirk myself. Smart ass.
“So how is it?” She quips, leaning over the table again, blouse barely keeping above her cleavage as I try my very best to override my boyish instinct to stare in awe.
“Dark,” I reply, flapping my tongue against the roof of my mouth to savor the taste, “dark and bitter… But sweet.”
She smiles and returns to her normal counter wiping and overwatch from the other side of the bar.
“What a man tastes can show the core of his essence,” (the direct translation of what she said, at least) she cryptically replies, dreamily sighing as she changes the background soundtrack of the bar to something more modern, a certain contemporary blues, what with the lack of people.
I spend the next half and hour or so just sitting there and trying not to collapse. What with little experience I have, I find it difficult to not feel nauseous at a bar, of all places. One
“Youth is nice, isn’t it?” She asks, leaning her head on a propped arm, chin neatly placed atop her open palm. I’ve never smelled the poignant perfume of a woman from this close of a distance before. Normally, I’d have thought that getting closer would only intensify the horrible scent. But the odor seemed to disappear as I leaned myself over too.
I don’t say a thing, of course. I’m not in the mood to comment on my young age. Age stays a thing I don’t like thinking about. Besides, I would hate for her to rat me out now.
“You’re still pretty young,” I stumble over my own words as they launch out of my stupid mouth.
“I’m 26,” she chides and looks back at me again, “and here I am, working as a doctor in the morning and a bartender at night. Solving people’s problems in two ways, albeit contrasting.”
I don’t know what to say, again. I’ve never known how to speak with girls. I once blatantly announced to public how horrible one’s eye-bags were, earning the scolding of another in the process of course, much to the chagrin of my poor, poor ignorant self. I simply sit there in a comfortable silence, sipping again at the strangely addicting and tasty drink.
“I feel old already,” she groans, dropping her head into her hands. I happen to notice, by some weird impulse, that she hasn’t done her nails, something I respect.
“You aren’t alone,” I reply, scratching the back of my grey stained head.
I can’t help but snicker at how ironic the whole premise seems: A doctor, who normally discourages the consumption of harmful substances to serve them and embrace the melancholy from her patients, twofold. Imagination couldn’t bring the slightest idea of how big a heart one must have to listen to another’s grievances and regrets around the clock while dealing with his or her own. Respect wells up again and I find myself taking a certain liking to the bartender.
“Are you a college student?”
“Yeah,” I lie and enforce my composure.
“What do you plan to do?”
“I ultimately want to be a doctor,” this time, I speak the truth, “but I’m thinking of majoring in Psych as well.”
“That’s an ambitious goal,” she smirks.
“Yeah, well,” I try not to act stupid, “easier said than done.”
“I have, on one side, my friends who tell me to reach for my dreams, say that I shouldn’t give up on what I believe, you know,” I point to the hopeless lot over at the ping pong table, “those fools always turned a failure into a success without masking their disappointment too much. I can’t seem to do the same.”
“You’re still young,” she nudges me a little, as if to encourage my self-esteem.
“I’ve got grey hair,” I croak, “says a lot when you walk outside.”
We share a laugh, one I never thought I would have the chance to experience again since two years ago: It’s the certain frank yet melancholic acceptance of a hard hitting truth that never sat well with ones gut. Simultaneously, it represents the maturity
I manage a maudlin smile with my now rosy cheeks (that thing was STRONG) and gather my friends, one of whom long since passed out, and organize a little cab line. As perhaps the last sober person standing, the responsibility fell to me, as per the buddy system, to take people home safe and sound, not much less alive. So, come a
I turn around and just barely catch sight of a business card zipping through the air and straight towards my face. In fear, I arch my back and try to dodge and look cool, of course, but the deadly piece of white tree sap barely scrapes my face before falling neatly into my collar. The damned thing hurt, of course, and I frantically try to remove it before I lose my mind, acting as if I was a dog trying, desperately, to catch its own tail. By the time I regain my composure and the giggling of the other party stops, I manage to stand up straight, dust the dirt off of my jacket and scowl at my predator. I soften my angry brows when I realize that it’s that cute bartender again, with her arms behind her back like an innocent little high school student.
“Come back again… I’d like to talk more.”
I arch my brow, of course. This is the first time any female has, in any way, asked me to speak with her again. Initial suspicion and mistrust comes full circle and returns to me in the form of a certain willingness to accept her proposal. Thereabouts, I find myself still more concerned about the man who currently throws his bile up and out of his system. We all insist, out of good faith, no less, that he see a doctor but I guess having his neighbor pick him up was good enough.
I don’t remember much of how I got home other than my taking a taxi on my own. But here I am, the next day, kind of groggy and disoriented by my unintended consumption of something undeserving for another year (where I’m from, the legal age is 18). But I feel inexplicably happy. I clutch the number of the bartender as I write now and decide whether I should go back for round two or not… Though, I probably shouldn’t. I’ve had enough for one summer. I’ll just wait until next year. That night seemed good enough.
Well, if this post seemed too long and you couldn’t be bothered to read it, then I’ll summarize my little rant in a single sentence: Life sucks, but what are you going to do about it? And, by the looks of it, we who stray from this path of moral living tend never to return the same man or walk the same road again. I doubt I’ll ever return to normal after all the things I’ve done (some I regret and extend my apologies, doubtfully towards Demi) and I don’t want to either: Being different is nice. It makes you feel special, because you are exactly that.