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A Night in the Dark
A Night in the Dark
I was bored last night. I am hungover today. I was caught up, mostly, on my homework and childless for the evening and as the night darkened, I became restless. I was still too tired to drive all the way into town, so I stayed in my new hometown. Not an environment that I am used to, but still, the one I grew up in, I suppose, so I can navigate the landscape to some degree. Conversations with 22 year old boys about audio engineering; all I found. And time reading my book, my homework, but it was Faulkner and I would read it anyway, even if it was not for a class.
Several weeks ago, a similar night. Met the radio boy for the first time that night. Had pretty much the same conversation with him that night that I had last night, but with three whiskeys in our bellies, it did not matter. That night, weeks ago, before the radio boy occupied the stool next to mine, a young woman, about the same age, sat there. She was cute, but with a couple whiskeys in my belly, my chivarlous side emereged and I decided that she was too young. Or too young in a way not defined by years but by the content of the years. But she was cute. She told me that she had never seen anyone read in a bar before. It was Friday night and the generic suburban music was loud and some people of my age but not of my demographic were dancing and trying with all of their might to be 16 for a couple last hours and some sharks were circling the pool tables and some younger kids were, like me but not like me, younger, fresher, I suppose, looking to find some contact with another soul, if only for a few minutes on one of the last nights of a strange summer. And since it is Oregon, we cannot forget the Burroughs style mugwamps losing the last of their humanity to the video lottery machines. But I sat at the bar, removing myself from all of this, reading. And she had never seen this before, and I could not understand why this would seem strange to her, and she was too young, so I said something snooty and academic and she turned away before I realized that she was cute and that she reminded me a lot of some girls I had crushes on when I was her age, and after a couple more drinks, watching her move a couple stools down to a bland, boring suburban boy who was not attractive but had a face that might be described as having character if there was any experience behind it, I realized that if I was not there to talk to girls, especially lonely alone girls who may be looking to fill the same voids I was, than I might as well go home and read my books there where I made no one uncomfortable.
But that night and last night I got to talk to the radio boy and to one of the bartenders who seems to recognize the distance I feel between myself and the rest of the clientel and who respects that as much as my dollar a drink tips and for these small reasons, it is better than sitting in my chair at home, sipping a beer or, more likely, a cup of tea, until my eyes grow too heavy and the words become hard to read and I drag myself into my cold, empty bed.
Last night, a night alone, usually comfoting, relaxing and nice, seemed a burden, too much to bear, so I wandered out. There were beautiful women in the bar, nice to be around, to see their curves, to smell their perfume when they passed by, but almost all of them were coupled up with generic business degree boys blowing off steam after a day of selling stuff no one needs to people who mostly cannot afford to purchase the goods and services that they pay for anyway. These boys looked like you would expect them to look and the women being casually ignored at their sides looked like you would expect them to look and I could imagine no conversation I would have with them except for trying to explain how I left their world behind to return to acadamia where I found myself in the basement stacks of the library pulling dusty books from shelves and writing papers on the lost mythological orgins of the earliest roots of their consumer culture.
While I felt no compulsion to talk to these people, I still found their proximity a comfort, reminding me that I, too, am still alive and that one day I will bring the social aspects of my life back into my nights. There were also the waitresses and a new woman bartender, so beautiful that it almost burned my eyes to look at them. They had the hard look of a life lived that the sales boys and their girls lacked, they looked like people I could talk to about life and actually have something in common with them, but they were working and I learned a long time ago not to crush out on the women who bring me booze in bars.
So I read my book. And I actually hoped that the girl who asked me about reading in bars showed up, and I talked with the male bartender about crappy cell service in our suburban community, and I got bored and went to another bar after selling a picture of my driver's license and a share of my soul to an Camel rep for a free pack of cigarettes.
However, the other bar's clientel was older, larger and more into Nascar and bad new country music and I had no idea of anything I could talk to these people about other than the inherant ickiness of Bush Country and the necessity of the seperation of church and state and about how I lost my faith in a divine Jesus but not necesarily in the concept of God itself and how, I reckon, I could take them in a fair fight so they should just back away now...
I fled in retreat to the first bar, enough whiskey in my belly at that point to make my empty bed feel like defeat instead of refuge, but the first bar was no different than how I left it. This is when I talked with radio boy, who had pictures of the smoking hot waitresses for some reason and who was busy learning the lesson about not crushing out on the women who serve you drinks and, eventually, feeling more defeated than I should have, expecting nothing more than what I found out of the evening when I locked my front door, I went home to fuzzy memories of stripping down and passing out on the couch, since it was too late and I was too wobbly to take the sheets for my bed from the dryer to my bedroom.
Today I am hungover. Not a guilty, icky tainted hangover, but a nice, conteplative drowsy one. I feel better than I did when I went to sleep. I know what I missed then, that just going out was enough. Leaving the house. I know no one in this town or the city next to it that I would choose to spend such a night with except for myself, and this will never change unless I do go out, unless I do talk to radio boy and the bartenders and unless I explore the nightlife around here. If every night was like last night, it would be different. But, I am learning, that I can allow myself the occasional night out around the temples of school and fatherhood that dominate my existance.
Anyway, a long, rambling path to nowhere in this first entry. But I am starting this to write about things that I would avoid in my more mainstream blogs, I suppose. Nothing tantalizing in this entry, but I am not in the mood to write about such things this morning. I am sure that I will be at some point, though.