I just wrote the first chapter to a new thing I’m working on. Piper and I spent most of Sunday wandering around lower Manhattan inventing bars so I could write a book about it. Maybe we’ll write a book about it. I don’t know. But we came up with a long list of dreamy, fantasy, impossible places that should definitely exist. It took me a day or two to figure out what to do with it, but I’ve finally settled on a book taking place during a series of dates at our little fantasy bars. I started with a place built like a park where the food and drink is served in picnic baskets, and so far I think I’m off to a good start.
To clarify, I’m at Dempseys up the corner from my tiny apartment. It’s an Irish bar that has a live Irish session every Tuesday, and while I’ve only been here a few times since I moved in, I mean to come every week. I have a memory of coming here after prom, but it’s possible it was another bar named Dempseys. Either way I was too young to drink and stood outside with friends as the much cooler kids went inside where someone knew the bartender. What a strange thing to imagine now at forty. A gangly nineteen-year-old version of me is hardly something I can remember.
But tonight is my self date where I take myself out and do the things that I want to do. I made a list, although to be honest last week I came here too. I miss hearing live irish music, and even if it reminds me of my ex I’m happy here. Maybe because of it, I don’t know. But I am happy here, and the writing is helping as well.
I don’t often write in bars, and the reason it simple: I feel foolish pulling out a laptop in a dark bar and typing down words. Maybe if I could write by hand in a notebook it would feel different, although I’m sure no less pretentious. But today I said fuck in and came down anyway. I have a corner booth right next to the music, and I currently have one pint of Guinness and a chicken sandwich in me. It’s a good start.
Of course, I also have one chapter down, which is helping everything.
Music like this is one of the few things that makes me wish I had been born in a different time. I long for old timey pubs with men and women singing as they raise their glasses to old friends. Maybe it comes from playing too much dungeons and dragons as a child or maybe it comes from somewhere else, but it’s a longing that feels built into me. And it’s one I’ve never felt very comfortable with me. It’s nerdy in a way that’s not cool at all. It’s geeky in an ungeeky way, and so I’m stuck here by myself, wishing it was two hundred years ago, and I was in a city pub lit by candles. Lit by beer drinkers and whisky lushes who speak in voices I can barely understand.
Imagine a bar with sawdust on the floor, an old woman playing the fiddle in the corner, and a dog in front of fire and you’ll understand. Imagine bartenders in low cut blouses, cherry smiles, and flowing dresses. Forget the smell and the suffering that always exists, and instead focus on the people. The people coming together to talk, to sing, to make music.
Our bars are about being seen or possibly getting laid. I’ve been laid before. I like it, but I have to say there must be something else to do in a bar. If drinking and flirting are the only two options then we’re missing out. A random trivia night doesn’t hurt, but it’s not the same thing as the imaginary places I dream of. The ones I long for and try to recreate without any hope of success.
But right now, it’s pretty damn close. I’m the only asshole on a computer, and I can hardly count the fiddle players. A man sung a song so perfectly off that it might as well be eighteen hundred and fuck if everyone didn’t clap like he was Frank Sinatra on New Year’s Eve. The walls are stone, the tables wooden and scratched, and for the first time in a while I’m not anywhere close to the oldest person in the bar. Other than my laptop, you’re be hard pressed to guess what year it was from a photo. For thousands of years humans have gathered to make music, to tell stories, and to come out of the world of strangers and into the world of friends.
Is there irony that I’m sitting here alone? Is it odd that a world as close to perfect as I can imagine, I’m sitting here writing instead? But what is there to do? Move to a table with people I don’t know? Flirt harder with the waitress and hope for an introduction? I’m a single man at a bar in twenty-fifteen, and so solitude is probably my best option.
I have to say, it helps having you here.