Refrain from mixing feelings with mixed drinks.
He has a blonde spot, I remember thinking when I first saw him. I’m going to name it Richard.
It’s been two years since I made that observation, my mushy mind concludes, and I still don’t know his name. I’m sitting alone at the bar, with two martinis settling in my empty stomach, but I see him from across the room. My attention turns back to my drink that sits before me, my finger tracing it up and down. The condensation on the glass beads, and my finger pushes them down, down, down to meet the cool wood on the table. I see it expand on contact, and I press the pad of my fingertip onto it, feeling the cool liquid adhere to my finger.
It had been a rough day. I rub the water back and forth between my thumb and forefinger methodically as the events flash once again before my eyes. I was inexplicably fired, for reasons I will never share, and John just broke up with me before I left the office, via text, telling me that I had too many disorders and that I needed serious help. My ego had shattered into a million pieces; my mind had turned to Jell-O, and the only place I could think to go to was my favorite bar, Martre.
As I sat with my own quiet thoughts, I came to the utter realization and fascination that the only two things I knew about this man were that he had a blonde spot (named Richard), and that he always ordered a whiskey, neat. I liked that I didn’t know him. It meant that there was still a space between us; the connection had not yet fully formed.
I wonder if he has noticed me, I think to myself as I resume the tracing up and down the glass once more. I wonder if he has a special identifier for me, like, dry martini, or brunette with bangs, or, if he’s a real special guy, maybe enchanting goddess. I almost scoff at myself, at my ignorance. I can only hope he even knows what I look like. Or maybe, I thought further; he doesn’t even have awareness of my existence. I didn’t like that thought. I hated it when my brain came up with hypotheticals. I didn’t like it when it turned against me, primarily because I thought that it was the only thing that stays with me through all this shit.
Rick, the bartender and lankiest person I’ve ever met, slides me the bill. He takes my empty glass in exchange, and I reach for my wallet. My purse is small, but it still takes me quite a while to dig around for it. When I do locate the worn leather zipper wallet, I fumble with it, my fingers feeling large and clumsy.
Once I hear the satisfying zip open, my vision becomes rather blurry as I try to take out a twenty. I spit out a laugh as I my fingers fumble over the faded bills.
It takes me a good two minutes before I hand over the money to Rick, who waits patiently as he dries an already-dry glass, a flat expression etched onto his face.
“Keep the change, you,” I say and my mouth opens slightly as I wink to him. I try to be seductive, I always do, but I think I give off more of a murderer vibe. Rick gives me a meek smile and curt head nod in return, and I begin to swivel out of the barstool.
The murmurs of the customers, dim lighting, and two martinis have made the bar turn into a bubble. I feel stuck on the inside, the cheers and laughter entering my skin and seeping through my bones. I can’t see much, my vision has turned a bit blurry, but I do still see him. I see him and I see thick red framed glasses and I see a white T-shirt I want to inhale so I can smell his smell and I see a freckle on his jaw and I see Richard, sitting right there in that little patch of mousy brown hair.
He laughs to his friend, takes a swig of his beer, and his eyes track the room when they suddenly fall upon me. I stand there, mouth slightly agape, and electric currents zing through my veins, all the way down to my toes until they shoot back up to my chest. I begin to float up, up, up above the crowd at the bar.
He gives me a quick smile and a tilt of the head, and then he places the attention back to his friend. I’m still standing there, the mixture of martinis and emotional turmoil playing a sick game on my social cues.
Eventually my feet drag me forward, and I navigate through the crowd to find the door. My hand grips the cool steel knob, and I turn slightly to look back to the place where I was just standing. That place. My heart, still beating, remains there. My mouth finds the nook in my scarf, and I bow down to face the cold as I open up the door, and am greeted with the harsh reality of life and responsibility.
Allie Antonevich is a senior at Lexington High School. She enjoys writing for her school’s newspaper, The Musket, as well as her personal writing blog, In Other Words. Allie also loves obscure what-if questions, making zines, and keeping journals of her fairly average life.