The woman across from me is older. I estimate her age at 50. Later on, she tells me she’s 61. I was always pretty bad with ages. The bar around me is loud and obnoxious. There’s some football game on screens attached to the ceiling. Two teams I’ve never heard of go at it.
The woman tells me stories of Hendrix and Frampton. She says she saw them when she lived in Cali. She tells me a story about seeing AC/DC before they got big. She says the crowd booed them off the stage. Six months later, you couldn’t get a ticket to their shows.
She says she ate spaghetti with Steve Perry. Bullshit, I think. I don’t know if it’s true or not. Sure it makes for a great story. But, there’s only so much I can take, before I question if any of it is real.
I look in her eyes. This woman is twice my age. There’s no gaze of longing, or feeling, or anything like that. I’m looking in her eyes, attempting to read her—to use the skills I used to use as a journalist, searching for ‘the truth’.
I give up. If there’s truth to be found here, it’s long gone in her last glass of beer. The bar is loud, but there’s no smoke. The smoke hasn’t been here for years, a remnant of an older time. Much like this woman, maybe.
She pours another glass of beer from the pitcher. Now, she’s talking about living in Montana, and the ring a friend of hers sold her for real cheap. “Take the deal,” she says. “That’s what the lady at the ring shop told me. ‘Take the deal’. I’ve never worn the ring. I think it’s worth a lot, but I don’t know for sure.”
I nod along, drinking more and more, thinking about why I’m here. I’m not a very social person. Often times, I’ll stay at home watching TV, rather than go out and interact. I went tonight off a whim. A friend invited me, and I said yes.
That’s why I’m out here at this loud, obnoxious bar, drinking beer out of a pitcher and eating 50-cent wings.
‘Shit,’ I think. ‘Shit.’
I continue to listen to the woman across from me as she talks about the events of her life. Things that took her all around the western side of the country. It makes me sad, because all I can think is that I’d kind of rather be home playing video games.
By the time she was my age, this woman had met rock stars, she had smoked pot with celebrities, she had eaten spaghetti with Steve Perry.
Well, this weekend I beat a game I had spent the past six months trying to beat.
I tip my glass back and hear the chants of my friends around me. “Chug, chug, chug, chug.” I think: What are we? In college?
I set the glass down on the table. It’s only halfway empty. I look across and see the 61-year-old woman finish hers. With a smile, she offers to fill my glass. She doesn’t even seem to notice it’s still got half the liquid.
I offer her the glass, and she fills mine then hers. As she sips a bit more, she begins another story. This time, it’s about a casino she worked at in Montana. I sip my beer slowly, smiling. Maybe someday I’ll get to Montana.
Maybe after this beer.
(Dedicated to Marjorie. You make nights at the bar fun.)