The air felt thickly liquid and 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 dive bar 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.
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