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Barfly on the Wall


7:24 p.m.

I arrived at a local bar with two goals: to order nothing and to sit there like a bump on a log. Why would I do this? Well, I suspect that when you sit at a bar by yourself and remove the purpose of drinking alcohol, others are bound to question why you're there. I wanted to see just how long it would take an employee to wise up and request that I leave the premises.

Judging from the number of cars in the parking lot (head count: one car) O'Terrill's was near empty, which led me to propose a hypothesis; this experiment will turn surreal sooner than later.



7:25 p.m.

Three men sat at the bar, each with one heterosexual empty stool between them. The men stared at me as I sat down and then they went back to paying attention to the television and dinner plates in various stages of consumption.

A woman reading a newspaper at a booth stood up and greeted me behind the bar.

BARTENDER:   Hey. How are you?

PLUG:   I'm good. How are you?


PLUG:   I'm good for now.

BARTENDER:   Oh. Okay. Hanging out for a second?

PLUG:   Just hanging out for a second.


The bartender walked to a customer who was seated at the other end of the bar and suspiciously poured him a drink even though he didn't ask for it. Perhaps he knows sign language. Or perhaps he's security and serving him a drink he didn't ask for is like tripping a silent alarm.




7:31 p.m.

The man seated next to me (seen right with the cap and glasses) passed a bag of Doritos my way and said, "These are yours." I think he misinterpreted my solitude and staring as a cry for nourishment, so I'll have to remember that trick if I'm ever forced to panhandle.

Cheese-flavored tortilla chips are a very generous gift that can not be denied so I told him, "I'll take them in my lunch tomorrow."

My neighbor got off of his bar stool and patted his pockets. He exclaimed to the bartender, "Welcome back, Jamie."

The bartender lovingly yelled, "Thanks, Mel. Have a good night."

Thanks, Mel, indeed. Whenever I lick orange powder off of my fingers, I will think of you.




7:35 p.m.

I'd been seated at the bar for eleven minutes when the bartender approached me a second time. She asked if I was okay and would like water or something.

No thank you, I told her.

She left the bar area a bit perturbed and sat back down at the booth with her newspaper. A few minutes later, she walked outside dialing a number on her cell phone. Moments later, the man at the other end of the bar who had been getting free drinks walked out of the bar talking on his cell phone. I'm not usually a conspiracy theorist, but something was fishy. I blame sobriety.

The one remaining genuine customer at the bar divided his attention between two televisions: one that aired a soccer game and another that aired a science program. I, however, was fascinated by a drawing of a half-man/half-dragon who breathes fire out of his nose. Drunk kids draw the darndest things.




8:10 p.m.

I can't stress enough how dead this this bar was, which increased my paranoia all the more. The bartender and the suspicious man at the end of the bar had a private conversation while awkwardly covering their mouths from from my view. It's 7th grade all over again.

I deduced that the owner of the bar just walked into the room because the bartender broke away from her secret club to ask the owner which rum he wants to use as the well rum.

One minute after that, another man entered the bar and sat on a stool next to me. Thank you, gentlemen. There is safety in numbers.



8:31 p.m.

The vibe inside O'Terrill's has definitely shifted. The owner and latest customer can't stop laughing. I feel so jovial now that my position here has morphed from sore thumb to a forgotten-about observer. It was time to change all of that.

PLUG:   Do you mind taking my picture?

NEIGHBOR:   Where do you want it?

PLUG: Just from, like, where you are. [Neighbor takes photo] Thanks a lot. I'll buy you a... How about a glass of milk?

NEIGHBOR:   I don't drink milk.

PLUG:   You don't drink milk? How come?

NEIGHBOR:   That stuff will kill you.

PLUG:   Are you serious? Are you lactose intolerant?

NEIGHBOR:   [shakes head]

PLUG:   Oh. No, you just don't like it.

And just like that, the laughing stopped.




8:54 p.m.

It's clear that the bartender and owner have accepted the presence of a seat-filler with no intention of drinking. Little did they know that all this talk of not-drinking made me thirsty. Ninety minutes after my arrival, I called off the experiment and called over the bartender.

PLUG:   I've decided that sitting at a bar without drinking is kind of boring. Can I get a glass of milk?


PLUG:   Yeah.

BARTENDER:   Do we have milk? [Owner shakes head]

PLUG:   So you can't even make a White Russian?

BARTENDER:   I have half and half. You don't want to drink that.

PLUG:   You're right. I don't want that. I've decided not to get anything. I appreciate your help though.

BARTENDER:   Sorry we don't have any milk.

PLUG:   It's okay. Thanks. Have a good night.

BARTENDER:   You, too.




Issue #33: Some say that this is their favorite issue. And I say that I just made that up.
Issue #33