Thursday, July 13, 2006

Quietly killing misanthropy

Yesterday evening I stepped into my favorite bar to take advantage of a weekly special that's gained my interest. I entered the enclosed front porch without so much as a pause in my advance on the front door. Eye's slipping over the familiar territory without focusing on anything in particular I passed through the front door into a wall of noise that halted my progress as completely as any brick wall ever could.

After my pupils dilated in the sudden darkness of the main dining area, I looked around and took in the crowd for the first time. Not a seat was empty, that I could see. Not even the couches around the TV were open and a few people were actually starting to mill around in front of the bar, looking expectantly at anyone who shifted in their bar stools.

After glancing about for a few minutes I shoved my hands in the pockets of my jeans and proceeded at a more sedate pace over to the ordering computer. After fishing my wallet out of my pocket and angling my membership card into the narrow mouth of the computer's scanner, I trolled through the menu interface for the special of the day, hit the print icon, and waited. And waited. And waited. And - you get the idea. Eventually the laborious little machine completed whatever intensive math that's required to print up a seven line receipt. I took a deep breath, straightened my shoulders, and turned towards the bar just as a thickset pair of grey haired fellows slipped off their bar stools and slowly, deliberately made their way towards the front door and (unfortunately) their awaiting vehicles.

Smiling, I levered myself up to the bar, submited my order ticket, relinquished my credit card, set my novel on the bar (thank you Joy!) and cracked open the little leather journal I was carrying. The white noise of more then a hundred garrulous beer drinkers cocooned me from even the scritching sound of my plastic pencil's scribbles. Periodically someone would detach from the milling morass behind me and pass a credit card over my right shoulder in exchange for a drink. Thirty minutes, half a pint, and countless such transactions later, a different motion caught my eye. My eyes slid to the right just as the pale kid sitting to my right finishded moving my book closer to him. With a cocked eyebrow and a slight shrug, I dove back into my journal. Two beer passes later, he did it again. For the first time, my eyes settled on the pool of condensation that had been slithering towards my book, escaping an apparently abandoned pair of glasses on the bar between us.

As he stood up to leave the bar, my pasty benefactor shifted the trade paperback one last time - closer to me and completely out of the path of the water. Unacknowledged and without a peek in my direction, he grabbed his beer and melted into the crowd.

Thanks for having my back, brother. And people wonder how I come to be such an optimist.

4 comments:

Dallas said...

I love your refreshing descriptiveness. You filmed it for me with words as if I were the perverbial fly on the wall watching and listening, very cool, you get the Dallas Ace Award for "Quietly Killing Misanthropy". Keep up the great blogging and you may end up with the Platinum Dallas Ace Award!

Omar Buhidma said...

Thank you, Dallas. You are officially the first person to describe me as being refreshing (or in any other way similar to a fountain beverage). Hopefully my woeful inability to control expectations won't prove too disappointing.

Anonymous said...

The thing that strikes me the most is how good you are at bringing the moment to life. Being descriptive and vivid without being wordy is a rare talent. Nice job!

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