The shitty pub
I used to, almost fanatically, go to a shithole pub.
But I stopped about 5 years ago. All of my friends were going to it every goddamn night for a pint or two and I didn’t really like it. It stunk. The beer was rubbish (always flat), a lot of the people were faceless — there were many I knew only by face and the faces I did know more personally seemed to act all different once they set foot in the door. The decor sucked — a shitty cold blue. People I didn’t know kept poking me in the ribs, I’d open the bathroom door for someone and suddenly they’d want to be my friend. People seemed clumsy — like they were all thumbs. This pain in the arse kept popping up from the corner of my eye, coming up to me, trying to sell me all sorts of shit I didn’t want or need. One time I went to the bar for a beer and the bartender yelled out to the entire room ‘She’s, like, getting a Sierra Nevada Pale Ale this time — any other punters on the Sierra Nevada Pale Ale folks? Anyone, like, want to be friends with — what’s your name, love?’
‘Me? BlardyBlar’ —
‘Anyone, like, want to be friends with BlardyBlar? Does anyone like the Sierra Nevada and, like, want to be friends with BlardyBlar?’ Next minute I’m surrounded by a shitload of potential new friends, all holding their addresses out to me. Poking me in the ribs. All thumbs.
And the friends I had already accepted into my life inside this shithole had nothing new to say because I’d heard their updates every day for the last god knows how many years. They’d say ‘Oh, like, did you know I bought a Blarr?’ .
‘Yeah, I, like, heard you tell BlahBlah yesterday.’
‘Oh, yeah. Shit it was, like, so funny…want to see a photo?’
‘Yeah, nah, I, like, saw it already, BlahrBlahr showed it to me.’
‘Oh. Ha. It was, like, cool though, eh?’…
Speaking of photos, they would often pull these (decent enough) photos and video clips out — family, travel, I-Am shots, kids’ school concerts, cats on keyboards, dogs catching frisbees, abs, etc — and that was alright but , well, you know, I can get that via text or whatever these days (if I must) and I don’t need to meet them at the shitty pub to share that sort of thing.
The thing that irked me the most is the way they behaved at the shitty pub. Fake. Fake as fuck. At home we’d just hang out in our trackie pants and sit on the couch and talk about good, heartfelt stuff — we’d make a solid connection, whereas, at this shithole place, they’d puff their chest out and show their best side only and play with their hair continuously and god help them if an ex-boyfriend appeared out of the blue – they’d suddenly bang on to him about how marvellous their existence was. What was worse is they’d start trying to convince me too, like they were stuck on autopilot with it, when really I knew they were sort of, pretty much crying on the inside. I’d look at them like ‘Hey, man, it’s, like, me you’re talking to – we know each other, like, for real’ and they’d be like ‘Shhh-shhh, here comes, like, BlachtBlacht’s sister. She liked my photo the other day. I want to, like, see if her abs look as good as mine’. They’d gotten so used to spinning this utter drivel that they’d forgotten who they were talking to – namely, someone who didn’t buy their PR job. Didn’t need to buy their PR job. I knew them inside out, flaws and all, they knew mine. I didn’t need or want to see this other side of them. It cheapened the whole thing. They were becoming a shadow of their former selves.
You should have seen the ex-boyfriend though – he looked like god’s gift when he pranced past us like a dancing bear, lovely smile, doing the ‘watermelon under each arm’ walk… But the moment he was out of earshot he’d drop the fake walk, pull the fake front teeth plate thingy out and drop it into his manbag along with his self esteem and then cry into his beer. I know this because I saw him when I went to the bathroom – he opened the door and I didn’t recognise him without his front teeth, puffy eyes… I squeezed his hand but kept one eye on the gummy smile. I can remember when he lost those two teeth — rugby incident — I was there. Before this shitty pub even opened.
He wanted to be friends again. Meet up at the shitty pub more often. We’d sort of un-friended each other for a bit there. He was blue. It was upsetting — I’d always thought he was a good guy. He was a shadow of his former self. I felt bad for him. But I didn’t want to re-friend him, be a prop in his efforts to re-friend my friend, his ex. How about that? This pub seemed to be making me a shadow of my former self also.
You should have seen it at peak time, this fake place. The way everyone’s eyes darted around the room to watch what everyone else was doing . Talk about exhausting. Every so often I’d see someone throw up into someone else’s beer.
The amount of times I’d say to my friend ‘Hey, like, I want to leave, let’s, like, go somewhere else, this place is, like, gobshyte’.
And she’d say ‘Oh, no, look, we don’t, like, come here often – only, like, once or twice a week and, when we do, it’s, like, just to have a quick pint, like, keep in touch and, like, share photos. Other than that… Oh, bugger, I just, like, missed the tail end of the joke that guy over there just told. I don’t, like, get the joke and I’m not, like, interested in him, but it might, like, impress Blah and make BlahBlahBlah jealous if I, like, share it’.
And on and on it went. I said, ‘But, no, that’s, like, not quite true, is it? We’ve both, like, been coming here every night... like, EVERY night, for god knows how many, like, years. I’ve seen, like, ALL the photos you have to show and what you, yourself, haven’t shown me, BlahBlah showed me.’
‘Yeah, I know, I know, but, like, I want to stay… like, BlahBlahBlah and BleurBleur might be coming in later and, like, I want to see their photos – their sister’s, like, best friend is friends with my ex-ex-boyfriend and, like, he has a new girlfriend and I want to, like, see what she looks like. I want to know if she’s, like, slimmer than me. He used to, like, tell me I was fat. He should, like, see me now, right?’.
She did looked slimmer. But she seemed slumped over a bit. I wanted us to get the hell out and go home and sit on the couch in our track pants. Talk it through. Like we used to.
I wanted to be with my friends. But not here. Not like this. I’d persevered for so long and the shitty pub just got lamer and lamer and lamer.
The bartender — ‘Selfies! Selfies on tap! Anyone? You, my darling, like, what’s your name?’ …. ‘BlarrBlarr? Punters, BlarrBlarr has just, like, bought a round of Selfies on tap. Anyone want to, like, be friends with BlarrBlarr? C’mon, who wants to, like, have a Selfie?’.
I believe this constituted the end. I’d reached the end. So I left. Threw my money on the bar and deactivated before I felt the need to explain myself.
When I went to jump in a taxi out the front, the driver said ‘Where are we, like, off to, love?’
‘Um — ’
‘Sorry, love, before we, like, go anywhere, you have to, like, punch your pub membership into this machine. We are, like, affiliated. You can’t, like, ride in this taxi unless you use the pub login’.
I told him I’d left the pub. He said ‘Well, sorry love, you’ll have to, like, hop out’.
‘But… can’t I just give you my usual ID? Like, nothing to do with the pub? I don’t LIKE the pub, I’m not going back to the pub. I don’t LIKE it anymore’.
‘No, love. Anything else is, like, becoming obsolete pretty much. Soon, this’ll, like, be your only choice in login. Look, it’s handy — if you, like, punch in your membership here, you are, like, able to share all the affiliated memberships with everyone at the pub. Listen, like, even the music we’re about to play on the radio can be, like, shared with that lot in there, if they’re interested’.
I jumped out and walked.
That was 5 years ago. People still come up with a myriad of reasons why they are still going to Fake Bar, the shitty pub. Whatever, I get it. A sense of belonging. A fear of missing out.
I’m missing out, sure. Not on the photos and the quality friendships and the quality connections — that’s all been enhanced.
I’m missing out on the bile — the download of discharge I didn’t need and never wanted but which the shitty pub managed to fully convince me and my friends that I liked and would be lost without.
Leaving that shithole has transformed my life.
The way I see it, so many things happen in a day — to us, to others, to the world itself – what we see, what we consume, doesn’t have to be what the world decides it should be. It needn’t always be the traditional propaganda — the evening news or the city rag or the arseholes sharing the commute or the online ‘feeds’. It can be everything we choose and nothing we don’t. It can be good shit and it could be no shit. No shit at all. Instead we can just sit and ‘be’.
We can think. Think of someone special. Think of something that evokes strong emotion and trumps the numb. Think of someone or something we used to know. Think of something we learned somewhere. Think of sex. Think of something we want to learn. Think of someone we just met. Think of someone who we want to get to know. Think of sex. Think of how graceful our dog looks when he’s running on the treadmill. Think about the unthinkable — when our dog is no longer gracing the treadmill.
We can look. Look at the world we are sitting in. It’s ok to sit and think of nothing, just look at the blade of grass, in a daydream, with the eyes unfocused — how many times have we gone into unfocused daydream mode, the whole time our brain telling us ‘Not now, you need to focus, do this later’ but later never comes. Look at the bird on the wire. Look at the word ‘Like’ and see it for what it used to be. You liked it. It meant something. Look at something that evokes strong emotion and trumps the numb. Look at the cat with three legs. Look at the other neurotic cat looking at you like you’re offensive, like you’re a staff member, but they like you. Look our loved ones clear in the face. Look at the tree. Look at the heat haze in the clear, still, blue day. Look at the melancholy in the stunningly icy grey day. Look at the people having their morning. Their day. Their evening. Consider that they are people. They are people, doing it, just like the next person.
When we think and look at what we choose — when we are fed, as human beings, with as much good stuff as we can get our mitts on — then when the shit hits the fan (as it inevitably does) we are better prepared, aren’t we? We are informed. We have been looking at the right things to give us the perspective we need to choose what comes next. At the very least, we are well practiced at locating what we do need as opposed to being spoonfed bile and discharge.
Time poor? Put the fucking device down. When you pick it up again, phone your nanna. Help the old man across the road. Cuddle your dog. He’s waiting for it. He friended you ages ago. You like him. He loves you. You love him.
See it. See it all. Before the moment passes.