THE HOT WIND blasted through our little bar when the front door opened. Warm air rises, we are taught in elementary school, but someone should have reminded the two 40-something women standing in the immediate vicinity of that little sirocco. Let’s say quite a few eyes raised along with the two short skirts.
“I want to get those ladies a drink,” said a voice in the crowd.
“Spring fever” they call it, and it manifests itself in many ways. I turned to another woman sitting alone at the bar.
“Can I get you something?”
“What do you suggest?” she asked.
“What do you like?”
“What do you?”
I looked fully at her for the first time. Some might say she was a “woman of certain age,” but then age is subjective. A 50-year-old man is a 20-year-old’s codger, and a 70-year-old’s young stud. Subjectivity is funny that way.
“How about wine?” I asked, attempting to move things along.
“Perhaps a cocktail?”
When everything is a question then there are really no answers. Meanwhile, life and its answers swirled all around us.
The two woman by the front door now were sitting with men who had been complete strangers only moments before. People chatted with other people. Two men argued the merits of the sports teams battling it out silently on the TV overhead. Bars are indeed social settings; let no one tell you differently.
more “maybes” and another “perhaps” and I finally cut to the chase.
“You know, sooner or later you are going to have to make a choice.”
She looked at me for a second. Situations like this can go in many directions. The well-adjusted can laugh at themselves and their behavior; the less well-adjusted cannot.
“I know,” she said. “I do that.”
“Do what, exactly?”
“I put my decisions in other people’s hands.”
“So that the outcome is on them and not on me.”
“How has that worked out for you?”
“Not very well considering that I am sitting here alone, at a bar on Friday night, at my age.”
“I’m sorry,” she said, noticing my discomfort. “It’s just that I don’t go out to bars much.”
“Neither do I,” I said, smiling.
She smiled back.
“I’m just not into the whole pick-up scene.”
“Bars are what you make of them.”
“I just can’t compete,” she said. “You know, with girls like that,” gesturing at the two women at the front table.
“Who says you have to?” said a man sitting next to her.
On closer inspection, he, too, could be called “of a certain age.”
“Well, they are the ones getting all the attention,” she said, ignoring the fact that both of us were talking to her.
“Again, so what,” he said “It’s like buying a house; you don’t need a dozen buyers, all you need is one.”
She smiled at him slightly differently than she had smiled at me.
“Look at me,” he said. “I haven’t been to a bar in a long time, and now I’m sitting here talking to a beautiful woman.”
I moved on to more pressing things, but not before marveling at the fact that two people who never go to bars can meet each other in a bar and connect.
Later, instead of giving him her number, she asked for his. Taking charge and proving perhaps, that French fabulist Jean de la Fontaine was right when he said, “A person often meets his destiny on the road he took to avoid it.”