It’s Saturday, and Caitlyn and I are sitting on bar stools looking at each other uncertainly, not sure how to go about “going out for a beer.” We’re trying our best not to get too drunk to drive her car back home, but the threat of mind-numbing boredom that comes with being sober in a place like this is overwhelming, and the pressure to get smashed is on since a strange guy sitting alone at the bar has already made us both feel uncomfortable with his pressing comments about the baseball game on TV.
“Do you girls like baseball?” he asks, perhaps because I had been staring at the TV screen behind the bar without actually registering what was on it.
“Uhhh……not really,” Caitlyn says, and I smile politely, shaking my head to confirm that no, despite my seemingly fixed gaze towards the game, I do not give a shit about baseball.
He apparently decides to ignore our answer to his question, and launches into an elaborate spiel about how the Reds are doing this season, which to me sounds pretty much like the teacher always sounds in Peanuts cartoons. Wah wah wah wah World Series wah wah. I text Gretchen to tell her how much I am enjoying the company of Newark’s finest. Caitlyn fiddles with her phone as well, trying to send the guy a signal, but he just keeps going. After several minutes of him rambling on and us focusing intently on our phones, he finally notices that we don’t want to talk to him about baseball.
“You girls are probably making fun of me via text, aren’t you!” he says after ordering another drink.
Caitlyn’s eyes bulge out of her head a little bit, because she had in fact just texted me to say “Dibs on this guy,” which is her sarcastic way of saying “what the fuck is this guy’s deal?”
“No. Of course not!” I say, and I grab Caitlyn’s arm and we do that thing that girls always do, which is that we go to the bathroom together. As soon as the door closes behind us, Caitlyn is laughing out loud. “I can’t believe he asked us if we were texting about him!” she says.
“Yeah….it’s like, really man? If you’re so self aware why don’t you take a fucking hint and leave us alone?” I say, and some random girl in the third stall laughs.
We head back to the bar and decide it’s time for a round of shots. Luckily the Reds fan has disappeared outside to smoke, so we argue for a while about what shot to take before deciding on lemon drops. We shoot, order another beer for each of us, and proceed to zone out at the TV again.
I lean over my Blue Moon draught, which doesn’t taste right and is garnished with an unripe orange slice, as I contemplate the societal dregs that populate this bar. Next to us, an old man in a cowboy hat comes up to the bar and makes a poop joke to the bartender, who laughs in that way that only a bartender, who has heard every joke there is, can laugh. I eye a younger guy across the room, before realizing he’s wearing a sleeveless Army t-shirt and sucking on a wad of chew. I sigh to myself and take a sip of my beer, imagining the bartender’s dirty fingers on my orange slice, hoping the Reds fan doesn’t come back inside.
Caitlyn writes an acrostic poem on a napkin:
Randy (makes me)
Three guys who are too old for us and have clearly had more than a few come up to the bar for another round, and one of them leans over to ask what we’re writing. “Bad bar poetry,” I respond, and hand him the crumpled napkin.
“Who’s Randy?!” he demands. His buddy leans over his shoulder and chimes in in agreement. “This would be a lot funnier if I knew who Randy was!”
Caitlyn and I laugh and roll our eyes. Not surprisingly, they don’t get the joke.
“So…are you guys pretty cool, or a little bit weird?” The first guy asks us.
This pisses me off, as do most comments that come from men who approach me in bars. I stare at him with a raised eyebrow and don’t answer. His friend gets the hint and tries to make consolation for the rude question. “You’re not sure what to say to that, are you? Don’t mind us, we’ve been drinking a while.”
“You’re the ones talking to me,” I say without looking at them, lifting my glass to my lips.
“Well you’re a pretty girl,” the rude one says, losing his footing a bit as he leans against the bar stool in front of him.
Again, I’m not sure what to say. Should I be flattered that this sweaty, red-faced stranger has just told me I’m pretty? Or should I be insulted that he’s still drunkenly talking to me, despite my clear signals that I’m not interested in what he has to say?
“Um, thanks,” I say uncertainly, taking another sip of my beer and still not looking at them. The bartender finally brings their drinks, three different varieties of whiskey and soda, and they disappear back to the outside bar, not before making us promise that we will leave a copy of our poem with the bartender, in case we become famous for it someday.
“Christ,” I say to Caitlyn, shaking my head.
“More shots?” she asks.
“More shots,” I agree.
Taking full advantage of her new Blackberry, Caitlyn has already posted my bitchy bathroom remark in her Facebook status, and within minutes Ashley texts me to ask what I’m doing. “I saw on Caitlyn’s status that you were crushing guys’ dreams,” she texts.
“I didn’t say it to his face!” I protest, but we both know that if he had annoyed me enough I would have.
For a second I feel guilty for being a crusher of guys’ dreams, but then I remember that it’s all just part of the game – the game that, as it turns out, two can play.