Wouldn’t have thought college basketball was this popular but there’s a game on between Duke and some other school and everybody’s pretty tense about it, focusing on the massive TVs over the bar, even the servers and the bussers pausing to look, trade remarks. Everytime somebody’s closing in on a basket you’ll hear a chorus of muted “come on come on come on” and two bussers pause right beside you and one of them’s gripping his hair and sighing and talking about his bracket.
Whenever somebody makes or misses a basket the reaction is explosive, disappointment or joy, and all the tension along the bar melts off in a loopy uneven way. Like ice cream in a microwave. Then it all picks up again, just as slow.
It’s 7 on a Sunday and you’re only halfway through your first beer but you feel like this’ll be the only one and then you’ll go. Nothing to do with the game or the shouting. This just happens lately, in a way it never did in your early twenties. You’ll look at the remaining half of a beer and something in your stomach, some vague overhead cloud with mixed-up silent words about sleep and the next day’s responsibilities, tells you in no unclear way that you’re done. It’s time to go home.
And so that’s where you go.
You find a safe behind the painting.
04 left, 24 right, 91 left.
Pull the door open and you’re transported to the Thousand Movie Projects.
There’s a young guy here about your age who parts his hair in the back-right corner of his head and he’s got sunglasses on inside, taking hits from an e-cigarette, an air of austerity and entitlement about him and, internet being what it is, you wonder if he’s famous somehow, or if his parents are rich, and then a minute later you notice you aren’t even entertaining the idea that maybe this kid is independently wealthy for doing something honest and practical.
He’s having coffee at a table with an older woman in nice clothes who’s talking about somebody who lost $9 million. She gets to the end of her explanation: the person who lost it and how they lost it and the consequences. Then she looks into her coffee and shakes her head, pitying. Cocks an eyebrow. “May’ve even been ten million.”
More of this upstairs, in the Thousand Movie Project.
Three bar tenders having fun tonight, it’s not that busy for a Saturday, and after you’ve ordered and been here reading for a few minutes one of them comes and sets a bowl of ice cream in front of you and says, “Here’s the ice cream you ordered.” She’s wide-eyed. You’re supposed to go along with it.
Touch the rim and pull it toward you. Say thanks.
She walks away.
Don’t eat it. Keep reading.
Couple minutes later she comes and takes the ice cream and starts eating it at a crouch, grinning. “I went and scooped this cuz my boss was outside but when I came back up she was right there. Had to pretend it was for a customer.”
You smile back and nod, tell her it’s no problem, decide not to rhapsodize about how flattered you are to be considered dependable. Just drink your beer and keep reading.
Be sure to check out Thousand Movie Project
A few years ago I started a blog that focused on stuff I saw and overheard at bars, and I had lots of fun with it, but, for a handful of reasons from the past couple years, I’ve let it languish. In those couple years since I was actively posting I think I’ve changed and that I have a better sense of how to write these things.
For the month of April I’ll be posting to View from the Bar every night at 10 pm (DST). They’ll be quick entries for somebody who, getting out of work late like I do, might be sitting at the bar, alone, and for lack of company find themselves in the mood for it. My hope is that it does catch you when you’re by yourself, whether in bed or on the couch or at the bar, and that our solitude, paired, might mix well.