Image description: A black and white photography of a busy bar.
It’s Thursday night. You’re at The Bird, a Northbridge bar known for its artsy, chilled out atmosphere. Favourite meeting place of you and your friends. However, tonight, you are alone. Despite the knowledge that tomorrow is O-Day and that your wallet is practically empty, you have elected to go alone. You bear the sole responsibility for making this night, a capstone, an epilogue to your fantastic summer; if not equally fantastic, at least suitably memorable. And so, you walk in through the door, avoiding being charged by just two minutes, and immediately order a drink. Someone jokes about how close you were to the seven pm cut-off, and you respond pretty openly. Good. As you receive your drink, the same person makes another joke, one that doesn’t land, not because you don’t get it but because you literally couldn’t make out what she said. She apologises for the “bar humour”. You smile, say something to recover. Maybe you did recover socially, but financially? You’ve effectively spent the door fee on a drink. If you thought your wallet was struggling before, look at it now. The drink isn’t even alcoholic. It’s a lemon lime bitters – as far as you’re concerned, the best non-alcoholic thing you can order on a night out.
Well, you’re putting that to the test now. As you sip it, its sweet lemonade taste does little to assuage your anxiety. You scan the area at the back. All groups. It would be too awkward to slot yourself in and introduce yourself that way. But that gives you an idea. With the drink finished, you walk back inside and order a glass of tap water, the fine drink a bartender once convinced you cost six dollars after nine pm (a moment you mark as one of the most embarrassing of the past few months). You scout the room while awkwardly trying to project the impression of being in the mood to dance but not actually dancing. You think it might be working, but nobody is watching. They’re talking and laughing with each other. God, you wish you were them.
Then, a light from the heavens opens. Someone is sitting alone, with only his drink for company. You decide to approach him, and several scenarios run through your head as you approach the table next to his and sit down, facing away from him.
“Hey, do you mind if I sit here?”
“Hey, are you waiting for friends? Do you mind if I sit here for a bit?”
“Are you one of the DJs?”
With every second your anxiety increases, until you realise you’re staring at the potted plant in the corner with an unusual degree of intensity and you’ve drunk all your water. The drink was supposed to make you seem more natural, seem less like you were coming here tonight just to “talk to strangers”. As if that’s something people normally do. So, you get another glass of tap water. You sense a glint of concern in the bartender’s eyes. He doesn’t know what you’re doing. Neither do you. As you grip the new cup, you walk to the back and use the toilet, before returning.
Now you’ve been thinking about this scenario for an uncomfortable amount of time. The man gets up from using his phone and asks the doorkeeper if he can take the drink outside. She says no. Your eyes briefly lock for a moment. Oh god, oh fuck. After several more minutes of this hovering and trying not to look like you’re trying too hard, he leaves. Probably bored. You could have made his night better by talking to him, giving him a reason to stay at the bar. The glimpse you’d caught of his phone revealed green message bubbles – don’t WeChat and WhatsApp use those? What if he was an international visitor – what if his impression of Perth could have been better if you talked to him and filled the night with conversation?
No – instead you wrote out this account of the evening. And it hasn’t killed much time either. It’s not even nine yet. Maybe it’s time to dance, maybe it’s too early. But one thing is for sure: it’s time to preserve what little battery there is left on your phone.
Anonymous pretends to be okay.
Image courtesy of Pexels