Thought Catalog

A Girl Walks Into A Bar

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I chose this place because it’s familiar. See that two-person table? That’s where I sat the first time I came here, opposite someone I thought would eventually fall in love with me. I ordered the pulled pork and grits. Two years later, I shared the same table with another guy; one I thought would stay in love with me. The menu had changed, by then. Steak and eggs that time. And over there, by the window? My parents and I, we sat there on my birthday. I drank three Bloodys as my mom looked on in dismay, right before she joined in.

But here? I sit alone. I come here to read, I tell you, because at home there’s a television and a computer and rooms to clean and naps to take. Subtle distractions that sidetrack me in ways that the shriek of silverware kissing stoneware and the din of empty conversation don’t.

You never distracted me much either, especially not the first time. Asked how the book was, asked what it was about, asked why I chose it. You replaced my drinks before I had to ask, filled my water glass after a sip or two had gone missing. And despite sitting in a busy restaurant on a barstool, I was comfortable.

So I continued to read here, at the bar. And we continued to make small talk in between chapters. After a few of these encounters, small talk became big talk, or medium-sized talk, maybe. We learned that we’d lived in neighboring counties as teenagers, so I told you about this abandoned insane asylum we’d lived close to. How my friends and I would trespass to explore the buildings and their contents, all frozen in 1996 – the year the campus closed for good. All that was left behind were shells of buildings, a time capsuled tribute to the failed institution. In one room, I told you, there were these thick silver chains affixed to the walls, the type you’d find in a dungeon. The type meant for prisoners. These chains restrained patients on their worst days.

The conversation turns to you next: the Master’s in psychology you’re pursuing and what you do when you’re not here. Everything spills out easily, and I like you for it. I want to hear your stories, not read the printed ones that lay in my lap.

We, you and I, only exist in finite parameters, at this bar, on certain days of the week. You have a life outside of these walls that I know nothing about, relationships and hobbies and a family and of course I knew that, but hearing those leaked bits of your life made me realize how little I know you, how well you know me. I think of the countless hours you don’t spend here but elsewhere, places I’m not invited to. And then there’s me, no one’s paying me to be here, I’ve chosen this seat and this bar and this book. Here’s your invitation to my places.

I don’t dig for more, instead I imagine how you spend your Sundays and how your Thanksgiving was; I picture your hypothetical girlfriend and the silly nicknames you call each other. She’s great; I know this because guys like you always have girlfriends I can’t help but fall in love with. She doesn’t go to bars alone.

I choose not to humor this camaraderie because, comfortable as I am, I know you’re just doing your job. Driving conversation, keeping my glass full, making me feel at home. As a bartender, as a psychologist. This is what you do. We’re both playing a part here, each of us reading from a script no one has written. You: the charming, the intrigued, the attentive and I: the patron, the patient, the tipper. I begin to wonder what my real motivation is in eating, reading, drinking here regularly. Maybe I come here alone not to read, but to have someone ask what I’m reading.

In my short-lived fantasies, you joined me on this side of things. We had a conversation that didn’t culminate with me signing my name on a dotted line. But in reality, I’ll sit on one side of the bar that separates us and you’ll stand on the other, and we’ll continue to play our roles. Everyone’s got chains to wear. TC mark

image – John Pickens
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  • Anonymous

    LOVE.

  • LazyReader

    “She’s great; I know this because guys like you always have girlfriends I can’t help but fall in love with. She doesn’t go to bars alone.” ….. sounds like every good guy I’ve ever met.

    Just LOVE this.  Wonderful piece.

  • Mick Moss

    TAKE A LOOK MY CHAIN, TOOK A LOOK AT MY CAR

  • http://twitter.com/snuggiebunnies Olivia Moore

    great read

  • Anonymous

    Oh, the familiarity…

  • Anonymous

    Why don’t bartenders want our friendships? We’re interesting people when not supplied with drinks.

  • http://twitter.com/SoosSahar Sahar Soos

    I loved this! great read!

  • Valerie

    Stephanie you’re awesome!

  • Willowash98

    Totally random. but is the abandoned psych center you are talking about from Kings Park? / on long island? bc if so. i did the SAMMMMEE thing when I was young with friends before it closed in 1996….

    • zlady6

      same question. used to go kayaking a lot in the summer and see that eerie building just lurking there. ..it would always give me chills..i can’t believe you went inside! (if it’s the same one)

      • Willowash98

        yes! the main building 93 is all closed off now but the asbestos buildup got so bad and so many drug dealings went on they kinda are closing it off and have camera monitors and such

    • http://omgstephlol.tumblr.com Stephanie Georgopulos

      Letchworth Village, odd coincidence!

      • Willowash98

        that is crazy! how interesting with the similarities… loved your piece by the way. good job!

      • http://omgstephlol.tumblr.com Stephanie Georgopulos

        Thank you (that goes for all of you!)

  • Rebecca

    I really love your articles.

  • timelife

    your articles are incredible, gurl.

  • Riana

    i love the last two paragraphs. amazing.

  • Anonymous

    This is one of the few articles on TC that I didn’t get bored of halfway through.  Loved it!

  • Anonymous

    50.gd/2g

  • Anonymous

    50.gd/2g

  • Tgrenville

    LIKE!! I shared this article earlier today with the heading “um, this is me?” …. ur writing is really amazing….. signed, a bunch of girls in Toronto who think ur awesome. 

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