24 Jan

The Ravari Room sat at the border between north campus and Clintonville. A number of other bars clotted the neighborhood, including the damp and yeasty O’Reilly’s along with Dirty Dungarees, an establishment made indispensable by its other role as a laundromat. Ravari shared a red brick building with Hounddog’s Pizza and was separated from the latter by an archway with a roll-down metal shutter of the sort used to prevent the vandalism of storefronts. The two venues existed in the kind of harmonious symbiosis that only pizza and beer can achieve. Delicately tattooed punk-rock waitresses brought pizza to the bar or beer to the pizzeria, swishing through the archway in polka dot skirts or Dickies and wife-beaters. Watching them made my chest ache. I had no idea why I decided to come here.

Actually, that isn’t true. I knew why I decided to come here. The walk from here to my house was only five blocks, and the Ravari Room sells draft Pabst Blue Ribbon for a dollar each until eight o’clock. My wallet has seventeen dollars in it. That’s all of my cash. Recent circumstances have forced me to accept that no one cares about me, or my degrees, or where I’ve been, or what I can do. At least, no one cares in the “here’s a job” sense of the word. I have an application in at a call center where, word has it, they will hire anyone. In the meantime, the money-sock at the back of my drawer held seventeen dollars.

The bartenders are punk-rock and tattooed, but not delicately. One of them put a PBR in front of me and went back to the other corner of the bar to watch a soccer game on TV. If it had been three hours later, he’d have made a show of carding me, but it was happy hour. I glanced at my cell phone. No calls, and I’d been waiting here for twenty-two minutes.  My date’s name was Andrea and she was late.

There is a learning curve to internet dating. Eventually you pick up survival strategies. The word “survival” is appropriate, because the absence of these practices will either lead to a heart attack brought on by hypertensive frustration, or to a lifetime of celibacy, which is almost as bad. One of the first things you learn is not to wait around if your date is more than fifteen minutes late. Also you learn to bring a book to help you kill those fifteen minutes that she will invariably be late. A naïve observer might ask why you wouldn’t just arrange to be fifteen minutes late yourself, but this is a bad strategy. You risk offending the rare date who actually arrives on time, and the book itself can be useful as a topic if the conversation stalls. Regardless of how excruciating the encounter is, both parties typically feel obligated to endure for at least half an hour under the pretenses of “getting to know each other.”

I sipped the now-flat beer I’d been nursing since I arrived. A wide-eyed woman in a business suit walked through the archway, clutching her purse with both hands like a castaway clinging to driftwood. She scanned the bar. We made eye contact and I waved. This also was a mistake; common courtesy suggests that you allow the other party the opportunity to escape. She moved toward me almost involuntarily, wearing the sort of expression that I imagine of people whose parachutes have failed to open but who have not yet hit the ground. Gingerly, she mounted the stool next to me and smiled her best meeting-the-dentist smile.

Next: Conversation!


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  1. Rebuilt Tranny

    February 5, 2010 at 8:18 pm

    I have a feeling a cat o’ nine tails is in the very near future.