He comes in first. A fit, baldheaded guy in his late twenties or early thirties. He orders a Jack & Coke and asks for some quarters for the pinball machine. She comes in fifteen or twenty minutes later. A full-figured black woman with elaborate braids. She might be his age or maybe a little older. She asks what the specials are and orders the Schlitz tallboy, along with a shot of Jameson. She makes a show of fumbling for her wallet until he gets the hint and pays.
From the way they greet each other it’s clear this is their first meeting. But they aren’t complete strangers. This is a Tinder date or the like. When I work door every other single person sitting at the bar is swiping through an endless rogues gallery of romantic possibilities. So these two obviously know something about one another.
Every time I pass them the talk is of sex. I don’t eavesdrop long enough to get context but one time she’s going on about baby oil, the next he’s talking about favorite positions, then she’s saying she was in a strip club but she wasn’t doing anything. They sit facing each other, away from the bar, but don’t touch much. But he’s always trying to hold her gaze, to get closer.
When it’s time for another round, I forget her shot is Jameson and she makes a show of mock outrage, says generations of Irishmen are rolling over in their graves because I mistakenly offer her bourbon. I take away the Schlitz can, still three-quarters full. She asks for a PBR. He sticks with the Jack-and-Cokes, tipping about fifty cents per round but paying for all of it.
At last call she finally fishes out a $20 and treats him to a shot. He’s trying to get her to come home with him or at least tell him where she lives. After sitting inches away from him for hours, it’s clear she still hasn’t made up her mind. She gets up and leaves without a thank you. He follows.
The next day I see him on the train downtown. He’s wearing the same t-shirt and red pants as the night before. No way of knowing how his night ended but there he is going about his day.
p.s. I wrote about a new drawing show at the museum.