My friends have grown weary of my preference for isolation. Their orchestrating a blind date was the preferred method of intervention, and to me is truly an endearing gesture. Had I any grace left these sentiments, my coal of a heart would’ve undoubtedly twitched. I’m not a sociopath, of course, I gather this gesture to be a testament of their faith in me. I didn’t waste time applying faith in myself, and with all else, my faith was half-assed and retractable. This meant my homies were the only ones who really had any hope for me. Of course, I’m not an ass (at least, when it involved amour from my homies), and so, consented to their subconscious wager and went on a blind date with a bird named Bea. Entirely disregarding what Nietzsche said about hope being the first sign of defeat.
I’ve never been anything short of an oddball or a nervous wreck when it came to dating. Oftentimes, both. In person, I am not as articulate as when I write. (My physical body had a fallout with my brain, and the two have been estranged ever since.) But with Bea, I had a plan. I remember always having, needing to be adored by the flowered suitors I was sentenced to. All the while in the back of my mind sat this tormenting feeling of impending panic had my dates not even bother to bat their lashes. That made me an odd-er-ball and blighted whatever wrecked nerves I had left. But I had a scheme for Bea. Sometimes, the girl would stick around for more, to catch the rest of the show. That made things worse because I was then accused of being disinterested and inattentive. But Bea wouldn’t be berating me with that bullshit, not with the strategy I’ve got bakin’ in the oven. I’d always rebuked those accusations with pretty good material, but I could never admit to them that I really was guilty of their accusations. Sort of. I mean, there had to be something wrong with a girl that wanted to see the rest of the nervous odd-er-ball wreck show, and in the front row. I’ve cooked up a plan for Bea, because I have, at last, caught onto how often I’m really checked by disappointments. They really know how to tire you out in the ring.
Then came the night Bea and I were to finally meet. We were to rendezvous at a dive downtown, which was, impressively, her idea. I was early. I remembered having been to this bar before. For a friend’s homecoming. I thought about the night of my friend’s homecoming, as I ordered lager and a shot of whiskey then took the shot as soon as it arrived. As I chased the shot with the lager I realized it didn’t make any sense to have my friend’s homecoming night at a dive in downtown because we all lived about a half hour’s drive from Downtown L.A., and not only that, we didn’t have our drinking licenses when he departed the first time. We always went to the local poolhall to drink because the employees there were incomprehensibly lax in checking I.D.’s. ‘We should’ve gone there.’ I muttered. The bartender walked over and told me to come again. I told him I was telling myself something then told him I was waiting for a blind date. He looked at me with curled eyebrows for a moment, then I clarified that my date wasn’t actually blind. The bartender threw his head back like someone who’d just remembered where they left their car keys and gleefully shouted,
‘Oooh, a blind date. I didn’t know people still went on those.’
‘Yeah, it’s probably Facebook’s fault that blind dates are an endangered form of dating.’ I joked back.
‘Right? You can see which bitches are ugly now.’ he seriously replied.
I laughed and toasted my glass. Later, I realized I’d spent my youth and young manhood as an ugly bitch, so I didn’t appreciate the bartender’s discernment of Darwinism. But I just thought he was a fucking asshole as soon as he said it. My laugh was a courtesy laugh and my toast was insincere, but were both necessary because he was in a position to get me loaded. I also didn’t want to be on the wrong foot with the bartender before my blind date had even arrived.
After the bartender dropped off my third beer, I took a peek at the new tab receipt he put into the empty scotch glass in front of me. 24 dollars, plus the expected gratuity, as it is an unwritten law that you tip the bartender. About 30 dollars altogether. 6 bucks should do it, even if he is a fucking asshole because I was the only one who knew he was a fucking asshole. I had 35 dollars in my pocket. They were in my pocket because I never carry a wallet. Wallets of mine tend to either go off on their own adventures or be forgotten by me, a mutual neglect from both parties. But I was left with only a fiver while Bea took her sweet honeybee time.
Half an hour had gone by. Since my third beer arrived. There was still two inches left in my mug. It had gotten warm because I was trying to ration the last of it and play off the notion that I wasn’t a really big drinker, and not order another drink for the rest of the night. I gestured the bartender over to me.
‘Can I pay the tab?’
I handed him both the cash and tip. He pressed buttons on the register. As he shut the till, he threw his head back and found his keys again. Then walked back over to me.
‘She didn’t show, huh?’
‘Yup. Oh well.’ I rummaged through my pockets and pulled out cigarette from my cigarette box. As I began getting off the stool I was stopped by the bartender.
‘Hey man, your beer’s warm. How ’bout a refill? On me.’
I looked at him unemotionally at first, then grinned and nodded. I repositioned myself on the stool and took the cigarette from my lips as he filled my glass. Maybe he’s just an average asshole after all, I thought. He came back with a chilled mug.
‘No problemo. It sucks getting stood up. Did she call or text or anything?’
‘I don’t have a phone.’
‘I saw you playing with one.’
‘I don’t have a phone with service. I was looking at porn on my phone.’
‘I’m sure she’s got a good excuse though, man.’
‘Probably, but I’m cool. Really.’
‘Are you sure?’
‘Yeah. I was expecting to be disappointed. But I had a plan to fight that. I just didn’t think I’d be disappointed before the date even started.’
‘Haha, I know what you mean. You thought she was going to be an ugly bitch, huh?’
‘That would’ve been too soon, too.’
we laughed again. Then we sort of stood there. Awkwardly. Well, he stood and I sat. Then I said,
‘Blind dates are fucking stupid, I didn’t even get to see my date.’ then I quickly chugged my beer. The bartender laughed.
I put my cigarette sternly back on my lips and bid the bartender a good night. I got checked again even though I had a new fucking strategy, I thought to myself as I puffed out the smoke from my cigarette on the train platform. Then I smiled acknowledging the skill of my opponents.