Pinot Grigio in one hand, cigarette in the other, I am chatting it up with some guy outside of the bar because nobody smokes inside bars anymore and also nobody smokes, but the few left who do are forced to remove themselves from the rest and brave the elements. Not so bad this time of year, though. It’s cold but only mildly so and the autumn air smells of damp earth and freshly fallen leaves. There are a few bonfire pits around on the front lawn of the place and people are gathered here and there talking and laughing as their drinks sink them lower and lower into the back of their minds. The fires are wood-burning and the scent and scene is warm and charming. Twinkle lights strung all around in the many maple trees which surround us along the edge of the parking lot.
The wine is terrible because the bar is a brewery and I don’t drink beer and they don’t have liquor, so here I find myself taking large gulps of this watered down wine in an attempt to soothe my rattled nerves enough to listen to this man I do not know speak about things I do in a pleasant enough exchange. Holidays and gas prices, Thanksgiving plans and the bullshit that is Musk and Bezos and all the other fuckers who have this world by the balls.
It’s not that I mind small talk it’s just that it suffocates me sometimes and all I want is to be alone. He starts explaining to me that his wife is new to working out and she complains it’s making her gain weight instead of lose it and she won’t listen to him when he tries to tell her she is gaining muscle weight and losing fat weight but she doesn’t want to hear it and frankly at the moment neither do I. I think working out is bullshit, too.
The chatty drunk stranger finally makes his unceremonious exit to go back inside to order up what I can only assume is another holiday reindeer pale ale or whatever the hell these beer drinkers drink that I’m repeatedly amazed gets them so damn wasted. I can hear the band playing – some kind of country rock song. It’s just late enough that everybody should probably just call it a night but they won’t because the night holds nothing else for them after this.
I take the last drag of my smoke and crush the cigarette into the tall ashtray full of smooth sand. The glow of twinkle lights has become hazy under my gaze which is how I become aware that I am more than a little bit buzzed, incredibly enough considering the sad state of the offensive wine. When I get back inside, I see the dancing has begun. The volume and glare of everything is way over the top including the lights which are entirely too bright, illuminating a good bit of what nobody really needs to see.
As I am not one to know when to leave well enough alone, I get one more drink at last call and scan the bar for the guy I met earlier. I see him in the corner nearest the band, his hands rubbing on the small slender shoulders of a woman I assume is his wife who hates to exercise. She is sipping a bottled water and doesn’t appear to need to work anything out. My mind makes up a story about the intricacies of her life which I couldn’t possibly really know. I wonder how she does it. Stay sober as her husband staggers and stumbles. Stay fit in a world where everything is too much even as it’s watered down and it gets harder and harder to fit anywhere at all.