Bar Talk

I’m at this Louisianan bar/restaurant just north of Times Square, right on restaurant row, and I couldn’t be in better company. I’m splitting a table with three of my closest friends; Evan, Kevin, and Alvin (ok his real name is Alex, but doesn’t it sound better with all of them ending in ‘vin’?), and we’re splitting some appetizers and drinks. Just like at every other bar, I’ve managed to order the one drink that couldn’t look any less manly. The guys all have their mint juleps and whiskeys on the rocks, and I ordered the Hurricane, which sounds tough enough, until the sassy, disinterested waitress puts down this towering pink and orange affair in front of me, complete with a cherry and fluorescent straw.

Besides the fact that I yet again look like the fruit of the group (you know what, baby blue and purple do look really good on me, so suck it), I’m having a good time. If I was deserted on a tiny island, I’d want these guys here with me. Fuck food, I’ll snack on Kevin when he is sleeping, but that’s beside the point.  What I mean to say is this; I’m in the best of company, the people that I care the most, and no matter the shade of pink the liquor is, I’m getting happily drunk.

But there is this little twinge, this icy ball seeded curiously enough around where I think my kidney is, and I can’t put my finger on what exactly it’s doing there. It doesn’t hurt, I don’t think. It’s not a kidney stone, not an ulcer, not a heart attack that is somehow hitting me about two feet below where it should, no it is nothing physically life-threatening, but it won’t leave…and I’m not a doctor, so it actually might be life-threatening.  It tempers my jolly pink mood, wavers my concentration from my friends, and as I’m sipping my PRIDE Hurricane I start to think that this frigid spot is where loneliness manifests itself in me.

Seriously.  I’ve been single in New York for about three months now, I kissed one beautiful dancer (down the street from Times Square too, isn’t it just magical OH MAH GAWD) who danced back to her home in Europe, I fell in love with someone on the subway and said nothing, and I’ve gotten teary alone in my shower too many times to count. So ridiculous or not, this goddamned little chunk of frozen goods being stored in my side could definitely be the new materialization of how alone NYC can feel.

So when I see this kick-ass redhead sipping her martini at the bar, you know I fall hard.

God damn, she looks like a full-figured Isla Fischer, and my first instinct is to tell her that even though I’m more of an Owen Wilson type, I’ll totally be her Vince Vaughn. She can lie to me about being a virgin on the beach, and spray that stingy medicine on my fucked up knee because I won’t let her blow me in the bathroom, and propose to me that we sleep with a brazilian beauty together while I propose that we should marry, all of that crazy shit because honestly, if my biggest dilemma in life is that this redhead is TOO kinky, then there is a God.

She’s out of my league. Like I’m still in tee-ball while she’s pitching for the majors, that’s how her sexual prowess looms over me. This redhead is the kind of girl that I would see on the street and automatically look down as she passed, as if making point that I since I’m not overstepping my boundaries, since I know my place in the sexy hierarchy of sexiness, maybe she’ll throw my a bone and smile, or just flash me her panties. I’ll happily take either.

Now, before I tell you the rest, remember that I am drunk. This Hurricane, though it could successfully march in the PRIDE Parade, packs a punch. I’m sure it’s the drink that all the young cute girls order, so the bartender makes it extra strong in hopes that he can pick up at least one inebriated teen and take her home to his bartender pad, full of mystery and exotic booze and roofies.

So before I can change my mind, I slam back the rest of the Hurricane – and by slam I mean sip quickly through a straw, you can’t really ‘slam’ this tall curvy glass without spilling – tell my safety net buddies that I’m going to the bathroom because they would not condone what I’m about to do, and I try my best to look confident and walk to the bar without stumbling. Or drooling. I try to summon a mischevious gleam in my eye, try to adopt some mystery that the buff bartender seems to be so good at cultivating, and I sit myself on the barstool right next to the ravishing redhead, who is in midsip, and I say “Don’t.”

“What?” she says. Kind of pissed.

I turn my body so I’m leaning my back against the bar, letting her look at my right side, my good side, the vein shows just a little on that bicep and I don’t have as many acne scars from my youth on my right cheek.

“Don’t keep sipping that drink.” I’m internally praying to the gods of mystery and coy that I’m coming off, well, mysterious and coy.

She turns herself to me full on, and I’m not ready for her beauty this close up. My legs transform to overly ripe, bruised bananas, and it’s all I can do to not slide off my barstool and collapse on the floor in worship. She’s wearing a black skirt cut just above her knee, and it rides up every so slightly as she moves, letting me glimpse her smooth, muscular thighs, and I can’t help but wonder where those go, and what color panties I would meet along the way. I’m like a kid in toys-r-us, I’ve jumped from my lowly place on the sexual hierarchy by talking to this stellar Irish lass, and I’m about to be overwhelmed by her playthings. Her probably 34-C cup chest its barely covered by this whispy, silky top thing that I don’t understand but I thank God for, and she has this line of freckles that runs right up the left side of her creamy swan neck to her earlobe, it’s literally a map that God has drawn in freckles. Her cerulean eyes glint with fire, her perfectly plucked eyebrows narrow, her forehead wrinkles ever so slightly, and her plump lips that I would love to suck on purse together; she says one word, “Why.”

I didn’t plan this far ahead. I’m drunk. I can’t handle this pressure. I say the first thing that comes to my mind, which is, “Foreign policy.”

I figure short and simple will be best, even though I don’t know what the fuck I meant by ‘foreign policy’…but she hasn’t walked away just yet. Maybe she’s had a boring night, maybe she likes to string along pathetic, fruity-drink baby-blue wearing men like me, but something has kept her here for our fifteen second conversation, and she’s giving me the cutest WTF? look, so I figure that I might as well go for fifteen more.

“I’m sorry, I don’t do this, but I can’t just let you sit here and wield your weapons of mass destruction like you are.”

“Umm…”

“Look,” I say. “I’m just pulling a Bush Administration move here.  The way you…just are is inhumanely bombing the hearts of all of the men in this bar, myself included, and I thought that if I could intervene, confiscate your WMDs, then maybe we could spare all off these hapless men from annihilation.”

She gives this short, disbelieving laugh, and the smile she flashes all but nukes my Middle-Eastern country heart.

“See that’s what I’m talking about right there.”

“What?” she asks. At least she’s smiling, and I’ve definitely logged at least thirty more seconds.

“That smile, right there! You have to be careful with who you hit that with, because most of us men won’t survive that.” She laughs even harder, so I press on.

“And your hair, what is up with that?” She runs her hands over her hair quickly, smiling nervously, self-consciously, and in that moment I’m emboldened by just how human she can be. “Don’t you know it is a crime to have hair this brilliantly red? It’s like it’s permanently on fire, and I’m sure you don’t have a permit for that. And these curls,” I lightly take one of her burning locks in my hand, “this is just too much. No one can survive this.”

She flashes me a look in the eye, and I realize that I’ve just touched her, that I’ve been talking with this woman that is waaaaay to sexy to even make it into my porno stash, and that I’m talking about FOREIGN POLICY WHAT THE F***, I’m starting to have a mini, internal meltdown, and it’s all I can do to slowly lower the curl, and give her the best smile I’ve got (still praying to the gods of mystery and coyness).

And in this pause, in this stillness as I wait for her to say something, anything besides ‘get away, you rapist’, I realize that the icy knot in my side has dissipated. I’m not sure when it left, but I see this; loneliness in NYC is a conquerable thing. Whether this girl keeps talking with me, or runs from the bar screaming at the horrors hidden in my smile, or we spend the rest of our lives together rutting and making demi-god children, I know that this stupid loneliness is beaten simply by connecting with someone, by trying to build a future instead of crying in my shower as I beat off with baby oil on my memory of last nights’ porn site.

So I stare this redhead in her eyes that can eradicate third world countries, I breathe in the Louisianan Bar life in NYC, my best friends just across the room (the Vins), and this tempting redhead named Katie (thank you very much, I’ll take my bow), and I wait for whatever is coming.

And breathe.

Published by Neil Stratman

I'm an actor currently based in Chicago. Woot.

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