I tell him I want one more round before we go. Sometimes I wonder if my drinking disgusts him, most times I could care less. One of the televisions behind the bar plays a football game. Thankfully, the volume is low. There’s a commercial for pizza on another one, a shampoo commercial on a third one. The fourth one is too far out of my line of sight to tell what is playing on it. I briefly wonder if cartoons are on that one. I would much rather be watching cartoons than anything I can see on the other three.
The bartender keeps calling me this guy’s girlfriend and I cringe inwardly every time I hear this word. I live in a generation where relationships mean nothing, even to me. I cannot bear the thought of being tied down to someone, of being responsible for someone else’s happiness and well-being. My date doesn’t seem to mind. Maybe it’s because he knows I’m not that type of girl and because he also knows that I know that he’s not that type of guy.
I know my breath reeks of dark beer by now. I try to remember the last time I’ve eaten anything and briefly wonder if it’s in danger of coming up later at some point in the night. I sit still for a moment and try to decide if my stomach feels queasy. For now, it doesn’t.
He’s sitting on the bar stool next to me, his body turned towards mine but his attention on the television in front of him. I appreciate the fact that he doesn’t have a cell phone. In a world that’s obsessed with technology, it’s nice to know that your shining personality and conversation is enough to hold a person’s attention. Even so, we’ve known each other for close to a year and have barely said more than five words to each other. I can’t say that I mind the silence. It’s better than rattling off words that mean nothing. Words that I could be using on something more important, like my writing.
I dip my hand in the bowl of cocktail peanuts on the bar in front of me and pop them in my mouth, one by one, sucking the salt off of them. My mother once told me that bartenders place peanuts at the bar because they make you thirsty and then you end up ordering more drinks. I think about this for a moment and then ask the bartender for another dark, Irish Car Bomb and a glass of water. He gives me a funny look and briefly glances at my companion but ends up bringing me what I ask for. I find myself wondering what time it is. I’m so sleepy.
Eventually I realize that all of the Irish Car Bombs have upset my stomach and I can feel it gurgling. I halfway turn to him and mumble something about getting food later. I don’t feel bad for all the money he’s been shelling out tonight because in reality, he hasn’t paid a dime. I’m a working girl. I’m as independent as I can be. I can afford this. I wonder if that knowledge makes him feel threatened. I doubt it does. He’s probably just another moocher like all the others. This doesn’t bother me either and I wonder if it should.
My eyes get heavier and heavier and I’m ready to go to sleep. I yawn and don’t even try to hide it. I lay my left arm flat against the bar and rest my head on it while simultaneously pulling out a cigarette and a lighter. I attempt to light it sideways and he laughs and pulls the Marlboro from my mouth, pulling out his fancy, silver lighter and sparking it for me. He inhales deeply and I watch the smoke rising in it’s intricate dance. I don’t know how many minutes go by but I become more and more frustrated that he still has my cigarette. I decide to start running a tab on him. While he has his own car, I usually do most of the driving and he lives out of my way- not near to me and not near to any of the bars I like to frequent.
We haven’t spoken since we sat down at this bar over two hours ago. We’ve both been watching the television, watching our hands, watching the bowl of peanuts and our glasses emptying and then refilling, looking anywhere but at each other. I love this pub. It’s one of my favorites and I wonder when the time comes when he and I have tired of each other if I will still love this bar stool, that television, that bowl of peanuts, my Irish beer. I imagine someone else sitting on his bar stool, a lot of someone-elses, and as I stub out my cigarette and he swallows down the rest of his beer, I don’t even flinch when he reaches for my hand and leads me to where tonight will end.