Observational Essay No. 1

{Drafted longhand on Thursday, June 14, 2007. Yet another reason why I’m never without a pen and notepad.}

Several writers I’ve spoken with often find their literary juices flow most easily in the quiet confines of a coffee shop or a comfortable chair.

But not me.

I write — when I’m not at home — most easily in bars, when I’m alone.

If it were most socially acceptable — and less smokey — I’d bring with me my Macintosh.

But much like the light tan ales and rainbow hued vodkas, words, at times, flow most easily for me inside bars.

The obvious and quickest conclusion many would draw is that the booze makes it easier for me to write. I don’t believe that’s the case, though. More times than not, I retreat to a very small list of local bars to hide … and the writing just seems to follow me.

In my attempt to hide in a venue traditionally associated with socializing, I find it most comfortable to cozy up in a corner booth or table. I nuzzle next to the wall like a lover on early Sunday morning.

In this particular bar, I avoid the booth 10 paces in front of me. It’s where he and I shared a drink on our first date so many years ago that it feels decades have passed.

The champagne tastes sweet on my tongue as I watch other couples in this bar. While I want to kiss the kind soul who used his (or her) hard-earned cash to play “Devil’s Haircut” by Beck, I think of the thousands of moments that have passed since that night in that booth.

I am grateful that this bar is not more crowded on this muggy Thursday night. The noise level is ideal to (unfortunately) to hear a woman in her early 20s talk about “shit going down in front of that Taco Bell.”

Such banal discourse, regardless of this young woman’s blood alcohol level, enrages me to no end. Would you be willing to discuss meatier topics? More events that satisfy human curiosity and impact life on a grander scale?

But back to the booth.

I am just now realizing how much life I’ve lived between the span of that night and this one. I wonder if the dirty black ashtray sitting on the tabletop, in the rear left corner, has remained all this time.

I outstretch my legs as the TV asks me (and everyone watching) if the San Antonio Spurs are the “next dynasty.” (Do I care? No.)

A song by INXS I recall but do not recognize is now playing, and I envy/crave the close proximity of the other couples in this bar.

Here’s the thing about sitting in this now-empty bar on this now-darker Thursday night: I don’t feel sad or alone or any feelings of that nature. In fact, I feel quite the opposite.

I feel empowered and aware as I put these words to paper.

But now I hear a cell phone ringing … and wish it were my own.

It’s true: I am in love.

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