We were at the bar, talking through the last three days as we set up a card game. Everything and nothing had changed in the days since we’d last imbibed together—a whole lot of talk, and a non-zero amount of action.
Next door, at the adjacent bar, other friends drank, before popping by and informing us they were going elsewhere, the infamous gay karaoke dive where a plurality of our nights end. One game, and then we were gone. One beer at the next bar, and I signed up to sing “Starman.” And, when at last, my name was called, I stood on stage, mic in hand, as the chorus from Heart’s “Barracuda” played as filler music while the KJ queued up my tune.
I would have laughed, but nobody else would have gotten the joke.
We were at the bar, for beer, bocce, and birthday booze. Two more days, and full of developments both expected and stunning, requiring more exposition and mea culpas. As I caught my friends up, one ducked out of the ongoing bocce game, asking me to sub in without giving me anything to go off of, not even a team. Awkwardly, I stood, awaiting my turn to bowl.
A friend of a girlfriend of a friend clued me in, flashing a smile, perhaps even a flirtatious one. We bantered as we bowled, but the more we talked, the more I realized I didn’t care. I hadn’t cared from the start. Soon after, farewells were said to my pre-existing friends only.
At the next stop, my neighborhood concert venue, the hand-stamp gal commented on the smudge already on my inside right wrist, noting I was apparently getting around. I shrugged, and acknowledged it was one of those nights.
We were at the bar, toasting the end of a wild week. At the next table over, a familiar face looked right past me, leaving me uncertain if she was who I thought.
When I went to the restroom, I said hi, my suspicions confirmed. But she mistook me for someone else, someone I don’t know, only realizing who I was once I corrected her. Time moves quickly, and it had been longer since we’d seen each other than it had been that we’d volunteered on the same team. She was doing the same thing as before, and I was doing something radically different, or perhaps nothing at all. A quick chat, no more, and our conversations diverged again, perhaps forever.
We were at the bar, catching up and making introductions before a show. The Cure’s Three Imaginary Boys filled the room from the speakers above as my friend, frequently mistaken for one of the Three Imaginary Girls, made a face of disappointment when I didn’t know when to clap along. As we spoke, she told a tale of a shifting picture, a reconnection, and I laughed and told her my own, to which she already unknowingly knew the ending, or at least the present state.
Whiskies in hand, we four compared notes on the Cure and New York and when, exactly, we should move to the next venue, to which we arrived late, the show already in progress. But we only missed a song, maybe two, and we all saw all we wanted to see, albeit from different angles.
Hours later, a half-block away from where we’d started, the lights came on and “Purple Rain” began to play. When it ended, we retreated back across the Hill in the seemingly sudden cold, a sure sign that summer was long gone.
I was at the bar a lot this week.