|OH OH! You're halfway there...|
“Hey man!” a voice greeted Bob just as he was crowning the threshold of the door; born into the bar he braced himself for another meaningless conversation. The environs were indistinguishable from the thousands of other “Irish” bars that litter American cities. Places that seem premade and ready to ship once a liquor license is obtained and drunks have been secured. The only thing imported in this particular “Paddy Palace” was the female cousin of the owner who found herself in San Francisco on “holiday” and was dutifully standing behind the lacquered barrier. “Hey Bob!” the voice rang from just over his back shoulder as he continued his journey down the length of the bar, pass empty stools and just as empty regulars. He pivoted to acknowledge what he privately hoped would just disappear. The succession of words making up the sentences that were sure to follow would undoubtedly engage him in another vacuous and pointless exchange. The kind of seemingly endless interactions his life consisted of when he dared venture from the security of his one-bedroom compound. Bob felt the recoil of a smile involuntarily command his face as he reached his hand out to complete the tired gestures of incidental greetings. The only component that made this the least bit exciting was the anticipation of getting the greeting down right. “Clasp hands while pulling the subject inward into a half hug followed by a fist bump to the top of the subject’s back”, he thought to himself, “I think that’s where this greeting is heading.” He had been in the neighborhood too long. He viewed everything, including spontaneous greetings, with a clinical detachment. He felt like a resident doctor eager to test his knowledge of diseased social protocols. The exchange went poorly because he had misdiagnosed the patient, who clearly wanted to do that thing where palms interlock culminating into a fist bump explosion. That’s why he hated all of it. “So, Bob, you gonna sing tonight?”, the talking started. “I’ve been here since noon for the soccer game, I’m WASTED!...I should probably eat something other than Fernet! HA! HA!”, he laughed, sending bits of spit just over Bob’s shoulder. “I might get up and do a song...” he continued. “Yea, you know what you should do? Do you?...Motley Crue!...How’s that one tune go? You know, I’m a dreama..” words rattled off like a Gatling gun. With each sentence it felt like more rounds were being pumped into his body – like in the movies when gangsters shoot their victims so many times the person is stood upright flailing in place before collapsing in a heap. “I need to get something to eat or I’m not gonna make it…FUCK IT! I’ll just have Fernet! HA!...Were you here last night? It was CRAZY! We were getting all kinds of FUCKED UP!” the excited voice raising to match and eventually trump the group of twenty-something girls caterwauling through “Living On A Prayer”. Each trying to pull the microphone closer to their mouths simultaneously, while mimicking the moves of their own imagined stripper past. “Yea, you should sing some FUCKING CRUE DUDE!!”, the voice enthused never noticing that Bob had already turned away and retreated in the main room. “Why do I come down here anyway?” Bob wondered as he intently began flipping the pages of the red vinyl-covered karaoke book laid out at the table in front of him. Maybe he would do Motley Crue after all.