the drawing caught my eye. i started reading:
so im sitting here by myself at a bar right out of 1920. candles. dim lighting, mainly from the giant windows in the front. dark ceilings, bow ties thrown over the back bar. classic. crisp. a real new york joint.
i came for a quick bite and im staying for the crowd. well, lack thereof. and the blues on the jukebox. yeah im definitely staying for that. the bartenders name is “art.” good ole “art.” he’s old, slight limp, clean shirt, and naturally knows everybody’s cousin from here to brooklyn and then back over all the other boroughs. thats “art.” to my left and right are two very different kind of drinkers. i’ll start with the guy on my right. poor bastard.
he’s here for “lunch.” but before his meal comes he’s already slammed down two drafts. his only connection to the bartender is the sports channel overhead, shared knowledge from the realm of professional sports, of which i know almost nothing. nor do i give a shit. but anyway. “mr. two drafts” considers his shared enthusiasm for the major leagues, with our guy “art,” to that of blood brothers, equated to countless memories from a timeless friendship. i bet him and “art” go way back. this guy’s lonely. clear as day. the kind of guy who stays out a little later after leaving the office. doesnt just go home quite yet. he’s gotta stop in somewheres to “see about somebody.” hes gotta catch up. hes gotta do nothing. he pretends his life is more interesting than it is. hes gotta see “art.”
thats the one thing he shares with the man to my left: loneliness.
now this guy, sixty-five or older for sure. maybe a touch older then our guy “art.” he came in to see someone no longer “part of the picture,” as the barkeep so gently puts it. however, gramps does not understand. he keeps coming back to this same old watering hole, every few days, to see about “so-and-so.” “so-and-so” is lone gone. same old place, all sorts of new faces. thats new york city. “ah how cliche,” i say out loud to myself: the one aging waitress recognizes the old man. she’s kind enough to reminisce about all the other times before gramps had come in to see about “so-and-so.”
“another cider, boss.” ill keep writing.
the over eager “sports fan,” the lonely old man. both in to see about somebody. both just seem lonely.
“why the fuck is soccer on t.v.?” i sip my cider. ive always thought you can learn a lot about people, watching them drink. i like to stereotype and guess what kind of drink a person is going to order. let me guess, light beer for the sports fan? boom. and lets see, dry, london-style gin on rocks for our old friend to my left? nail on the head. seen it from a mile away.
at this point i notice a couple. shes pretty, both business types. hes got a bad haircut. wait. check that: shes not pretty. his hair cut…well it still sucks. damn bar lighting. “one more, then im done,” sports fan says, as if to reify to himself its ok hes drinking one more beer before going home to his family.
ottis redding slips through the air. love this song. love that jukebox. the air is upbeat. everyones feeling groovy. at least i am. sitting in that little bar.
gramps is on the phone again. hes just looking for somebody to talk to. “art” is cleaning, keeping his head down because he figures if he doesnt make eye contact with anyone, he can go about cleaning his bar undisturbed. sports-fan now has no “art” to rely on. he just blankly stares at ESPN on the t.v. as if he gives a shit. hes not listening. hes not even seeing through open eyes. he just wants some meaningful conversation. i cant give it to him. who am i? im face down in a notebook watching old men dissolve. “art” buys me a cider. what a guy.
“cheers art, happy tuesday.” i laugh at one of his jokes while he talks to sports fan. im bouncing my pencil on its eraser side. somehow i get sucked into a conversation with both sports fan and “art,” bitching about airline companies. why the fuck am i still here?
“one more cider, boss, then im done.” that sounds familiar. i feel a little drunk now. i think ill head home. you learn a lot watching people drink. i wonder if anyones learned anything about me.
unedited from one of my notebooks. two pages before a big drawing of daffy duck i must have did that day. 2014.