CHEAP EATS Bars are wired for weird times. I know that. The combination of amplified music and vodka makes for surreally truncated, garbled conversation (if any). Which in turn makes for strange looks, nods of unknowingness, flights of fancy, and colorfully elaborate misunderstandings. Then the next day you have to e-mail everyone and say, "Christ, what happened?"
Restaurants are wired for romance. Coffeehouses are wired for wirelessness. That's why you get coffee on first dates. If they don't show up, you can check your e-mail. Second date, dinner. Third date, drinks and dinner then hopefully more drinks, then hopefully breakfast. But you don't just drink until after you are bored with each other, or are at least married.
I was not on a date. My date, the dumb fuck, cancelled on me. It would have been a second date, so I would have had dinner. As it turned out, I did have dinner with a good friend instead, so it was actually enjoyable if not romantic and then we went to see another friend's band play and everyone was there.
Now, if you're me, all your friends are in love with all your other friends, with the possible exception of me. And all their relationships are always at various stages of disappointment/dissipation, in which case they may want to confide in you, or else they are on Cloud Nine, in which case they may want you to confide in them.
It might be the same mechanism that makes people rubberneck car crashes or turn into drooling zombies in the glow of the Disaster Channel. They could be safe, held, and accounted for, but some rare, blissless part of them misses loneliness and/or craves the vicarious ache of your dumb fuck dates and serial dicklessness.
And some not-very-rare but raw part of you wants to talk, and tell, and hear, and feel, so this all works out very nicely, or would except that you're in a loud bar with a lot of strong drinks in your hands. And the next thing you know, if you're me, all your friends have left, some having said good-bye, some not ... and you live an hour and a half away, have keys to several neighborhood couches and crawl spaces, but miss Weirdo the Cat and are in general very, very confused.
It's late it's dark you've had at least a drink you're a lightweight you're afraid to go let yourself in to any of your many oddly departed friends' apartments because they are probably all in bed with each other, making happy, sexual, slurpy noises.
How did this happen? You trade your unfinished drink for a cup of coffee to go and, replaying the strange night in your head, you drive home on the verge of tears and, more dangerously, sleep. You feel hardly understood, hardly understanding, in broad daylight on solid ground, outside. Let alone at shows.
You remember saying to someone back at the bar: "I think I might try dating younger men, since older ones strike me as disappointingly immature. With younger ones at least I won't be disappointed. And there will be hope. Insane hope, but hope."
What they heard, between guitar solos and microphone feedback: "I think the fire was in the bedroom, since something something scintilutf8gly immature. With young rum the peaches won't be disappointing. Something something. I'm insane! Ho ho ho!"
Little wonder they looked at you sideways and left.
Fuck bars. Fuck restaurants. Fuck coffeehouses. From now on I'm going to stay home, in the woods. If my friends want to see me, they are more than welcome here. And I will feed them. Complete strangers too. If they want it to be a date, I have coffee!
We can sit outside, and the only interference to our clear, body-boggling verbal connection will be birds and squirrels, and/or the sizzling of chops and chicken. Inside, the sound of a clock and the smell of bacon. This is called home field advantage.