16 Aug

I was back in Dayton, watching hipsters dance.

Hipsters, with few exceptions, don’t really dance. Generally they have to be drunk for it to happen even as such. (For this purpose, Pabst Blue Ribbon is considered extremely correct). Girls, the ones who are more elfin and drunken, aggregate in the middle of the dance floor and bop along with the one or two guys who are lithe and wan enough to look appropriate. Probably they are wearing skinny-legged jeans. The rest of them, guys and girls, the ones with thick-rimmed glasses and PBR bodies, lurk on the periphery. If there is a band, possibly they will nod their unsmiling heads in general consensus that yes, there is a band, and it is on the stage.

That night, there was no band.

Over the last several weeks, I’d spent most of my time emailing Polly. These were long emails, heartfelt and detailed and lonely and desperate. I had nothing better to do with my time and let myself believe she had nothing better to do with hers.

Sending out my daily resume and cover letter took only an hour or so, and there were endless menacing and idle hours left to kill. Probably I could have sent out more, but looking for work is very like dating. Continual rejection becomes exhausting, much more so than staring at the ceiling or making cats chase lasers. So I emailed Polly every day, waiting longer and longer for her to email me back. My account on Match went idle. Here is another rule of dating: If an email takes you longer than an hour to write, delete it. Have a drink instead. Sometimes the drinks belong to your roommates rather than you, but sacrifices must be made.

Earlier that day, Jason’s friend Kevin and his girlfriend Anna had come to visit. Kevin, a pleasantly bearded nerd, had a large tattoo of Samus Aran covering his shoulder and upper chest. Anna was neurotic and shaggy-headed, the sort of person who gets outline tattoos of Ohio. They’d dated once when they were teenagers, breaking up after inflicting truly horrible adolescent damage on one another. As adults, they were together again and engaged, which was obviously and enormously unwise. They’d break up again in four months. I got along with both of them. They invited me back to Dayton to go out with them. I hadn’t been outside in almost a week.

We were at some sort of diner . . . club . . . place. Someone had named it The Pearl. Inside were dancers and cheap Long Island Iced Teas in small plastic cups, and outside were Kevin, Anna, and the half-dozen or so people I barely knew sitting around a table. Although I wore a variant of hipster uniform, corduroys and a thrift-store t-shirt, all meant to camouflage, I felt the terror of imminent exposure. I couldn’t fix my own bike and I kind of hated PBR. Belle and Sebastian were no longer a current topic of conversation; I felt reasonably sure of that much. I made the decision to aggressively steer any potential music conversation in the direction of Nick Cave and Daft Punk. They weren’t current, but they were also as correct and as controversial as George Washington. Appearances must be maintained. Kevin offered to buy me some drinks. Gratefully, I accepted.

His friends were girls mostly, all intimidatingly attractive and all aware of their attractiveness. Kevin told me their names. Immediately, I forgot them. Someone’s phone rang. That someone announced the imminent arrival of a Katie. Kevin’s face closed off. Anna got up went into the bar in a huff. She huffed a stealth huff, the sort of huff that is aimed at one person in particular. It is not intended to be noticed by the group at large. Kevin chose not to follow her inside. Undoubtedly, later he would pay dearly. I watched all this with strictly anthropological interest.

Katie arrived. She caught Kevin’s eyes and tapped her lips with one finger, demanding a kiss.


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