I was in a bar last night. Clearly the wrong bar. The chat up line was, “awright gels ow u doin.” There was a woman dancing like she was looking for the loo but had lost her satnav, a sort of bent over stutter that took her north and then south with the occasional look in her mental map at what east and west had to offer. The guys had dressed up … t-shirts and jeans. If that was dressed up then god knows what the daywear was. A couple of rinsed out blondes stood next to the DJ in skirts short enough to match their IQ's, chewing gum in time with the throbbing base beat that vibrated through the floor, threatening to undermine the planks.
Ordinarily, I don’t mind a bit of spit ‘n’ sawdust but I had gone out seeking sophistication, an air of elegance, not the feeling that I should be holding a luger instead of a lager. I went to the bar. The barman kept calling me 'mate' until I ordered an expensive Belgian beer (which took four minutes to find on the till since the usual clientele drink beers that you wouldn't experiment on a rat with) and thereafter he referred to me as 'buddy.' I wasn't sure if I should take this as an upgrade in my status or whether it was just that the barman had suddenly discovered American roots.
I sipped the beer slowly, struggling to decide whether to move on or wait until the place 'got better.’ A glance around told me that sipping was not the preferred method of consuming drinks in the venue and that perhaps I should try the ‘glugging’ style employed by everyone else in the venue. I didn’t want to stand out.
“Wanna boogie babe?” The question caught me by surprise, not only because I didn’t understand, thinking that a ‘boogiebabe’ was some sort of cocktail, but because I hadn’t noticed anyone close enough to ask a question.
I spun around. At the bar, two girls giggled like teenagers, which is a misnomer as their combined ages divided by seven may not have hit the teens.
“Err, a boogiebabe?” I said.
“Yeah babe. Fancy it?” the shorter of the two said, combining her response with some sort of hip wiggle that was designed to demonstrate what a boogie was. At least I hoped that was the intent.
“I’m ... uh ... I’m okay ... just having a drink first,” I said, hoping that my answer would be taken as a diplomatic refusal but aware that the use of the word ‘first’ could give the impression that I was up for some future boogie. I wasn’t.
My answer seemed to suffice and she took a long slurp straight from the neck of the bottle of beer that she was holding. Her companion decided to get involved.
“You’re all right you. Ain’t seen you here before.”
And you won’t see me here ever again, was my mental response.
“Err ... no, I’ve not been ... first time tonight. I am meeting ... err, meeting a friend.” I felt the need to excuse my lone presence.
“Stood you up then has she?”
“No ... no. He’s a bloke.”
“Oh, right. You gay then?”
I momentarily marvelled at the leap of logic that had concluded that if I wasn’t meeting a girl, but was meeting a bloke, I could possibly be gay.
“No ... just a friend. A work ... work ... person.”
The two of them giggled again.
“He handsome like you then, babe?” the short one asked.
It was a question I couldn't answer, not only because the 'work person' did not exist but a yes would have come across as narcissistic arrogance and a no would have come across as .... narcissistic arrogance! I decided to ignore the question.
"Err ... I am just going to ... outside ... for a cigarette." (I don't smoke.) I turned to walk away.
"We'll come wivya. Fancy a fag meeself. Wot about you Sue?"
I jumped in before Sue could respond.
"No ... I mean, I haven't got any cigarettes ... fags. I meant I have to ... to go to the shop ... down the road, to err, get some. Won't be long. I'll be back for that ... boogie."
"Catchya laters," the short one giggled.
'Laters' wasn't going to happen. I would sooner take up smoking.