I won’t lie. I’m sitting on a bar stool, about 98 percent through an IPA already warm from when it was poured from the tap. I like IPA on tap, unless it’s some brewer’s idea of “fabulously crafted,” like the ubiquitous citrus or berries added to craft beers these days. I like my beers hoppy and well, beer-like. I drink lemonade, fresh-squeezed on hot summer days. I drink beer after a hard day of everything, when I’m thirsty.
I’m at my usual watering hole, one I haven’t frequented in a while, not since I turned in my writer’s profile, sitting at a bar with my mini IPad, phone, and beer, cut off from everyone around me, in my own world, and looking writerly. Since returning to school, I turned in a writer’s physique, the dark and isolated moody mole, for the yogini, lithe, smiling and sociable. I haven’t acted the role of student since 2009.
As a newly-minted Yoga teacher, I come to my old haunt with Ipad and phone in tow but with much more readily available conversation—Do I look less haunted and awkward? The usual dude with the beak nose is here, the one I always shunned with a slight inner wince, like finding lint or dog hair on my black pants, so conspicuously undesired. Tonight, he starts the conversation, probably sensing my defenses down. I believe I exude more pleasantness, an openness without obscene happiness and gaiety.
So he starts talking to me and I listen, nod and acquiesce. And he mentions “coming to your core,” and “feeling what’s right,” and I smile. He also mentions quite a few times that he is from Wisconsin, visually confirming that fact each time he drinks Cabernet Sauvignon from an unusually large wine glass with a Green Bay Packers logo etched into it. He mentions just as many times his occupation, “an engineer with the government.” His daughter sits main stage in our conversation, now 17 but 10 at the divorce.
I listen and enjoy his company til he leaves for an alleged birthday party. The man who replaces him to my right, stool side, is the old me, sunk into his palms to cheeks, elbows resting on the bar, staring into his dinner and phone. The role of me, the gloomy bar side patron, will be played by a balding, bespectacled, middle-aged, backgammon-on-the-phone-playing, fried-chicken-eating guy, enclosed and bordered from what could be his for the taking—communing with another human in awful, entangled stories of sublime wonder and banal wickedness. A good laugh or nod in commiseration, at least.
To my left, a soft smile, dark curls, a hint of floral perfume, and a large glass of what looks like Cabernet recently poured for this latest bar fly. Maybe I’ll start the conversation this time.
Huntington Beach, CA
Pamela Gerber is a Renaissance woman: freelance writer, college English instructor, skincare business owner, retail employee, and Yoga teacher, living in Huntington Beach, California.