im going to a bar. its always a bar. this one id never been to before and it is the last night its open so i feel obligated to attend its final rounds. as if the importance of that particular institution cant be ignored. like the shuttering of its doors is the end of something special. but i never went there and to be honest, never planned to go. its only the desperate feeling that id be missing out on something that urges me to make the trek. truth is, if it closed then it would be just another thing that came and went and id go on fine and the world would continue its steady rotations. no need to mourn the ghost never known.
i get to the bar and there is a friend and she is standing among a thick crowd of loud people all huddled in a mass outside the bar doors. She is on her phone. many are on their phone. talking to friends or family in persuasive voices, trying to convince the rest of the world that there is no where else they should be. it is a warm night and cars are out and these pleading voices rise in the air. my friend is texting and when i walk up her face is disgusted and she nods to the bar, packed wall to wall with people drunk in mournful celebration, and sneers.
do you even want to go in? she ask.
we walk in and squeeze through the thick, boisterous patrons, all slurping on their drinks and screaming at each other and throwing their heads back in laughter and muttering excuse me when their elbows bump a passing person. the bartender is drunk but still trying to take care of as many people as possible, spilling shots on the bar and slamming beer bottles and letting the suds rise and fall down the sides of their necks, calculating totals and getting them wrong and shoving the change in his overflowing tip cup. we order a couple beers and a whiskey. i take them in my hand and scan the place for a space to fill.
lets go sit and that booth with those people, she says, pointing to booth with a guy sitting in it alone, clearly waiting for someone else. he has glassy eyes and long, almost spiritual hair, and he is staring ahead patiently, the empty glass in front of him waiting to be replenished.
we scoot towards the booth and she leans in and says something to him i cant hear and he nods his head and moves some half full pints to the far side of the table, ushering us in. we sit down and i nod to him and he just slowly blinks his eyes in return. no one says anything for a moment, the confused din of a thousand conversations speaks for all of us. then finally she introduces herself, then me, and he extends his hand over the table and tells us his name. upon hearing it i ask him to repeat it just once more.
Gattica, he says.
it takes everything in my power not to ask if he's from the future. but then just as soon as it interested me, his unique name is a thing of the past. he goes on to explain he is an indian, even offering that its the feather kind, not dot. she pinches me under the table at this bold definition and we share a quiet laugh at his expense.
his girlfriend comes to the booth and sits on the side opposite of us. she is wearing a red tanktop and has tattoos covering both her pale arms and a large one on her chest that reaches up to her neck. she tells us her name but the noisy confusion that surrounds us steals the sound coming from her mouth. we smile and reach over the table and shake her hand. then there is a brief quiet at the booth that no one cares to address. we all sip our beers. i finish my whiskey. finally Gattica speaks.
who's got the weed?
the question seems to come shooting from my teenage past. me and my friend look at one another then shrug. i explain i dont have any on me and that these days, because im so busy, i rarely get to smoke as often. i cant tell if i said that to appear cool to him or if it was because it is the truth. he seems to dismiss it all together then launches into a rant about how he can hardly function with out smoking at least four to five joints a day. that it keeps him even. i nod slowly in understanding and grunt because i really have nothing else to say on the matter. he goes on to give us an oral history of his smoking habits, how often he does smoke and how much it means to him. i cant gather weather or not it is because of some religious, native american thing, or because hes a typical, american stoner. i lean towards the former, as it doesnt seem he has any passion other than smoking weed and being stoned and living for that unfortunate identity. i finish my beer and she finishes hers.
i turn to her. do you want to get more drinks, or leave? she shrugs, but behind that shrug is a plea to make our exit.
Gattica and his tattooed girlfriend speak to each other in whispers and it occurs to me that i dont belong there at at. that it is not my scene and that i was trying to be part of something i would never be accepted to. im a party crasher. i grab her hand under the table and squeeze it and look towards the door. she takes the hint and slides up from the booth.
it was nice meeting you guys, she lies.
you too, they lie back.
we shove are way to the exit and into the warm night air. it is early enough for cars to still be rumbling down the streets in long, illuminated processions. the crowd still huddles outside, waiting to get in.
well, im never going back there again, she says.
you cant, i say, ever.