A Man Walks Into a Bar…

It goes up. It goes down. It goes round and round and round.

It goes up. It goes down. It goes round and round and round.

A man walks into a bar. The bartender says "Hi, It's good to see you, I haven't seen you in ages, how long has it been, are still drinking… was it a Blue… light?" 

I reply "yes, yes it's good to see you too, I've been busy, working mostly." I pay for the beer and move away from the crowed bar to the dance floor in the back.

I am initially disoriented but very little has changed. Everything is exactly where it was. The pool tables are where they always were. Same too the piano and the bars and the TVs and, well, everything. The bartenders are the same people too. The dance floor is the same. The DJ is the same DJ. The music style too is exactly the same. It's new music but the same beat. It's the type of music that I love. I make my way through and stand in the same place that I have always stood. I relax. Everything is the same. Nothing has changed.

It's been eight years since I last stood here.

My eyes adjust to the lighting around the dance floor. I begin to notice familiar faces. They appear much older than I remember. I wonder if they've been here every Saturday that I have not. Everyone I see, that I used to see, looks very old. Weirdly old. I suddenly realize they are probably thinking the same thing about me. All of a sudden I feel out of place. I feel like I no longer belong.

I drink my first beer a little quicker now.

I have not been out to a bar, drinking by myself, in eight years. Eight years of staying at home on Saturday nights and watching movies. Eight years of drinking pots of tea. Eight years of Saturday nights at home on my sofa. I begin to wonder why it's been so long since I've been out for a drink by myself. I look around. I begin to get more uncomfortable. I begin having arguments with myself. I begin to remember why I stopped drinking. Why I stopped going out to bars. Why I stopped. My comfortableness is now gone.

I order beer number two.

I remember eight years ago it was nothing for me to drink 15 beers in a night. And still want more. I remember needing to shut my brain off. Alcohol shut my brain off. My brain was still thinking. I must drink more. Why won't my brain turn off? I must drink more to shut this thing off. Stop thinking. I feel out of place. Still not right. Still can't talk to men. Still feel unworthy. MORE BEER. Shut up. Enjoy yourself. No. Can't. Not worthy. Stupid. SHUT UP Enjoy yourself. No. Can't. … … I used to have to drink until the stronger part of my brain would shut up. That took a lot of beer. And. Eventually. That part of my brain would shut up. I could never silence it. But at least it would shut up for a moment or two so I could enjoy myself. Enjoy the music. Enjoy being.

My brain began to race.

This is only your second beer Tom. You can't handle it. This is not the end of the world. There is no way that you could drink that much again. You couldn't cope before. No way you can cope now. You are not the same person you were eight years ago. Just try to relax and enjoy the music. It will be OK. You will be fine. No you won't. What makes you think you can handle it now?

I order beer number three.

Three beers is not the end of the world. Many people drink three beers on a Saturday night. It's Saturday night. It's only three beers. I try to enjoy the music. I like the music. Why did you even come out? You don't wanna be that drunk again, do you? Just go home. Shut up brain. Listen to the music. You like this song. Listen to this song. Just shut up and listen to the fucking song. I start to sing along with the song that's playing. Hoping that this will help. It always did in the past. OK. It's helping. I continue singing. This seems to be working. Good. Everything is under control. Let's sing the song and everything will be fine.

An attractive man slowly walks by and cruises me. Strongly. Oh. Fuck. Why did he have to look at me? Just pretend I'm not here. There's hotter men over there. Don't look at me. Go over there. One thing at a time. Fuck. There goes all that calmness that I just found. My brain is panicking again. I try to go deeper into the music. It's a song I love. It's a new version for me. I know the words. I sing along. Ugh. It's not working. Why did he have to notice me? I can't deal with everything right now. Just go home. No stay. 

I order beer number four.

I start to panic about everything. I continue to sing along. The man walks by again and cruises me again. I continue to sing along.

I order beer number five.

The bar is surprisingly quiet for last call. I tell the bartender that it's been eight years since I was last here. There's a little sadness in his face. He replies, "It's been too long. Good to see you again. Don't stay away too long next time." He gives me a peck on the cheek. I walk back to the dance floor. My brain natters away to itself. I continue to sing along.

I finish my beer and leave the bar at 2:30. I walk home. My brain is running a mile a minute. Was that good? Was that bad? Did I have fun?

I finally get to sleep at 5:30. I am emotionally spent.

The following night a man walks into a bar again.