I was back at the bar, back in my element.
People often have a safe place where they would do their thinking and reflecting on everything going on in their lives. For some, it’s church. Others choose a quiet spot in the middle of nature or the outdoors.
For others, it’s the privacy of their own bedroom.
For me, it was the bar. There was something about bars that made me feel safe, as if I was hiding in my own little cell from the world. It made me feel invisible and dominant at the same time.
I ordered my usual – a Vodka 7up and observed the people coming and going.
I sat on a little wooden stool, in the far right corner.
There were a lot of women. Some came in dragging their men by the hand, some came in groups to talk about men inside and outside the bar, and others just came in alone looking for a quiet evening or some drinks or someone to crawl under the sheets with.
But it wasn’t the women that raised my attention. It was the men coming in with them.
They all wore the same depressed face: the hopeless grief-stricken expression of someone about to commit suicide. They seemed to be living in torture, suffering excruciatingly through every passing minute of their miserable lives.
I wondered, why did women do this? Why did they make it so hard on men?
They knew they were cleverer than us, more powerful, more persuasive.
But why did they have to torture us?
They tortured us into falling for them. They tortured us into loving them. They tortured us into pleasing them.
They even tortured us into getting in bed with them.
I saw men taking the bait and getting hit hard with rejection; I saw men at the mercy of their women out of pure naivety or fear. Was it all worth it?
When Shakespeare spoke about love, he surely didn’t imagine it of the like.
People were cheating each other, people were fooling others into thinking they had figured it out, as if they had struck gold by coming up with the infallible equation for love.
But they were just jesters running a mad show that left the loners out there looking like the sane ones.
It was repulsive, disgusting and humiliating.
I was up to my fifth drink.
The bar was still stocking up with people. I was getting bored and uninterested by all the faces coming in, ordering drinks, drinking, pretending to laugh at each other’s jokes, and leaving.
I started thinking about the different women I had encountered in my life.
After tonight, I realized most of them were whores: money-chasing whores, attention-seeking whores, or just whores. That last bunch was the least unpleasant of the lot.
But out of all these women, out of all these faces and bodies and curves, one stood out clearly in my mind. Even the alcohol I had consumed wasn’t enough to cloak her face or mask her smile or keep out her voice.
She was perhaps the only genuine woman I had met, the only one that saw through the booze and bad writing and smoking and bad hookups, the only one that made me feel closer to understanding the elusive concept of love.
The memories started unwinding in my mind and one in particular stood out above the rest and took me back to a time when we had spent an entire day fighting and I ended up driving down to her place later that night and throwing rocks at her window so she’d come out and look at me. I remember that moment clearly; I remember not asking for forgiveness that night, I remember not wanting to justify myself or getting into the messy details or apologizing.
I remember waiting outside her window for an hour and a half just to see her head pop out of that bedroom window and look at me.
I remember finding peace and forgiveness in her eyes when it did.
The world seemed to lack enough booze to fill you up so you’d have the necessary courage to walk up to a woman like that and embark on something special with her.
The world also seemed to lack enough words to fill you up when you came back from a journey like that into the harsh reality of social relationships.
I wondered how I’d ever meet someone like that again in my life.
And for once, writing was not the answer to my conundrum. It was just another bystander on my road to recovery. Just like booze. Just like acquaintances. Just like other women.
Way into the night, the bartender was pouring my last drink and the bar was emptying up at last. I took one big hit, dropped my glass on the table, paid my bill and walked out of the bar drudgingly.
I thought about her one last time on the way home and told myself, ‘you’re both gonna make it.’