Adventure to the Bar
Previous chapter: Prologue.
She dons what she calls, “her cutest top,” which in reality is just another collared flannel shirt with a nice pattern. Her black boots are laced up and her dark jeans are tucked under the flaps. She gels her short hair, accentuating her part. She makes sure that her jeans aren’t too tight. It’s the androgynous look she’s going for, as she makes her way to one of the bars that welcomes both the queer and straight, the questionable and the moral, the suspicious and the conspicuous.
It’s the first time she’s ventured out like this in five years. And she’s nervous.
“What the f*ck am I doing? Why am I doing this?”
I’m sitting at the bar counter, with a simple rum and Coke in hand. I’ve always been hesitant to go into a bar. I had met my ex-girlfriend in school and when we graduated, it was a matter of finally being able to live together after doing long-distance for a while. That was a nice story my family wanted to hear, especially after the whole messy coming out process. I didn’t want to have to say that I met someone at a bar, and that now we’re in some kind of relationship. It was a matter of saving face.
But the pangs of painful memories and loneliness sometimes get the best of me, and so tonight, on the anniversary of our breakup, I decided to venture out to Gordon’s, a spot where all the gays and straights and everyone in between often hang out, mostly young professionals though. The straights were mostly curious, the gays were mostly serious, and everyone in between just wanted to have a nice drink before heading back to their jobs the next week. It was a good combination.
Gordon’s has this nice feel to it, vintage and rustic, while still maintaining a hint of elegance. It’s a mixture between the hipster San Francisco coffee shop and the upscale New York City sushi restaurant.
A man walks in dressed in an incredibly expensive-looking dress shirt and pants, a little too out of place for Gordon’s, as everyone here doesn’t really go too far above the pay grade to dress up. He has the face of a stereotypical frat boy, clean-shaven, crisp haircut. I imagine he wore boat shoes and bro tanks at some point in his life. His shined shoes click-clack against Gordon’s aging floorboards. He heads towards the counter, where I’m at. I turn so that he has a side view of me, in hopes that he didn’t catch me staring too long.
“Howdy, is this seat taken?” he says, gesturing next to me.
“Erm, no!” I sputter, trying to feign surprise. I can see his eyes flicker. My high-pitched voice gave me away.
He grabs some whiskey and ale combo and takes a seat next to me. He takes a couple sips and turns. “A cocktail on me?” he says, eyes scanning from my face to my midriff. And stopping there.
I hesitate but can’t resist the urge for a gin and tonic, and before I know it, we start talking.
Our conversation gets deep and intense. We talk about our careers, although I hide the details of mine mostly. He was a computer engineering major, I was a computer science major. We talk about our dislike for following the trend that everyone follows, the system that’s in place. While I still believe that it’s in there for a reason and that I am still following it to a certain degree, I soon realize that he hates it. He used to be a venture capitalist after doing development for a few years. He has been out of the software industry for a few years now, doing his own thing. He talks about his childhood and how he loves the freedom now.
And then, he shares his EyeChange obsession. I immediately cringe. His tone shifts. “I have this business, see? Everyone deserves a chance to escape their reality. You know, the idea that we’re f*cked for life is just the beginning. Just leave that behind when you come to my studio, that kind of thing. I develop these immersive games for EyeChange that let everyone feel like they’re a superhero. You know, Tony Stark or something. They put on the EyeChange, and when they come to my studio, they can feel like they’re flying and beating up the bad guys, just like the movies! There’s other stuff too, but those are my favorite.” he rambles excitedly.
Innuendo shrouds those statements, but I play along. I ask if maybe I can see what he’s doing sometime. He agrees. Drops me his number.
“Just give me a text or something when you want to explore it. I’ll show you my studio,” he says with a wink.
The cologne immediately disintegrates as he pushes his glass to the bartender and gets up and leaves. “See you around,” he says, “Also, did I mention that I dig androgynous chicks?”