The air felt thickly liquid andย smelled so cloying I could hardly stand it. I felt like I could become intoxicated just from breathing the sticky-sweet air. Funny how I had never noticed the odor before.

Everyone in the room clutched frosty glasses of beer, with the occasional glass of red wine. You didn’t come here for the wine, though – you came to this hole-in-the-wall on the pier for the beer. You could choose from 88 kinds on tap if you didn’t fancy the hundreds of bottled craft brews. A veritable rainbow of alcoholic colors filled the glasses around the room, from honey to wheat to washed-up-on-the-beach tar, for the more adventuresome palates.

My glass was clear, sparkly, and refreshing because I was very thirsty after drinking too much espresso in an effort to stay awake. I kept my hand on it even when I set it on the table, my fingers tingling numbly.

The band of middle-aged white guys with identical shoulder length hair tuned their instruments, gearing up to play standards: covers of The Ramones, The Rolling Stones, Social Distortion, Led Zeppelin – the usual diveย barย suspects. The drummer sported a faded t-shirt with “The Dude Abides” scrawled below Jeff Bridges’ face, which I thought was a nice atmospheric touch. They launched into an uninspired rendition of “American Girl.” What they lacked in talent, they made up for in volume.

As the friskier members of the crowd jumped around on the dance floor I found myself staring at the mural on the back wall. Kurt Cobain, Jimi Hendrix, Stevie Ray Vaughn and other legends adorned the wall, painted with painstaking detail yet little attention to perspective and proportion. Stevie’s arm was so short his guitar tucked into his body at an unnatural angle. Mick Jagger’s lips were way too big, but not on purpose. The Beatles crossed Abbey Road on legs that connoted no movement at all.

It was getting loud. The swarm of people surrounding me shouted to make themselves heard. My ears rang.

I lifted my drink for a sip, then for a second wondered “what if.” What if I picked up someone else’s drink by accident? Would I have to start over? Would anyone believe it was an accident? Would I break down crying? Scream and throw the glass?

Or would I continue to drink, hoping no one would notice?

I took a sip of my water, glad I didn’t have to find out tonight.

Dive Bar

Photo Source

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When I Go There Now — 38 Comments

  1. I usually hate atmospheric details. I hate teaching novels where the author blathers on and on about unnecessary description of the flora and fauna…yet, this is something else. I’ve metaphorically been to that bar, and you captured it completely. I would have read it and enjoyed it even without the last two lines that add so much to the story. Please tell me one of these is being worked into a bigger piece.

    Agents and publishers! Are you aware this girl is unsigned? Do the reading public a favor and give her a book deal!

  2. Love the details! I haven’t been to a bar/club since I left that whole scene, though I’ve been to pubs that serve food. Those don’t smell so bad. I’ve also realized that I don’t like beer. It’s like drinking bread. But back then….

    • I don’t really like beer, either, but I wouldn’t turn my nose up at a glass – especially at the end in what I think of as my “Gollum” days. Yea, pubs that serve food? No problem. Bars specifically for drinking? Weird being there.

  3. This was cool.I love the way you tie in the pop culture references with first the alt rock bunch and then the legends – what a great way to create an atmosphere and a feeling to the scene. (also not every day you get Social D references!)Not sure if I’m using I’m using the right adjectives but in short – I liked it I think I will use music in soe of my fiction to help with setting and so on.

  4. Great details! I don’t go to places like this anymore, mostly b/c I’m a wine snob. I don’t love beer except for occasionally and they always have terrible wine at those places. You are very strong for going in there!

    • I was always the same way about beer until the end, where I would’ve drank paint thinner if it’d given me a buzz. I was more of a wine person, too. No matter how many years pass, it gets easier, but then it doesn’t…

  5. Like some of the others I wasn’t sure where this was going, but when I got near the end my heart stopped! I swear I could feel the details and atmospheric details clicking into place. I’ve re-read it a couple of times now and I have to say that I love it. Great job!

  6. Funny and poignant and wonderfully descriptive. One day at a time, one social engagement at a time, right? And wait a minute – how could anyone play an uninspired version of “American Girl”? That’s hard to do and just plain wrong! ๐Ÿ˜‰

  7. Firstly, this line “A veritable rainbow of alcoholic colors filled the glasses”, creates the most amazing imagery in my head!
    There are other great lines in your post which all recreate that place beautifully. I am left mystified at the end of the post. Great Post. ๐Ÿ™‚

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