The Bar

He sat at the end of the bar with a cold glass of ginger ale in his right hand. His head was tilted slightly downwards – an eccentric scientist would probably estimate the tilt to be at the 10 degrees, just high enough to see the menu scribbled along the dimly-lit walls yet low enough to fit the stereotypical image of a loner at a bar on a Friday night. Every so often the man at the end of the bar would grip his glass with resolve, pull it towards his dissenting lips and take another sip, regardless if he was actually thirsty or not.

In the corner of his eye he spotted a man with a 5 o’clock shadow and stylized hair walking towards him. That man was carrying a glass of dark-brown liquid in one hand and a fist-full of change in the other. The man at the end of the bar looked behind him and noticed a jukebox that looked like it was from the 1950’s. He thought to himself that the hair-styled man was looking to fill the ambiance with some contemporary pieces, the usual songs about love lost and maybe hopes about the future. If he had bet his life savings on this gesture he would have, at least, earned enough money to pay rent for a duration longer than three months in a row, the man at the end of the bar thought. He smirked at the lost opportunity as he turned his head back towards the menu, sipping another mouthful of ginger ale.

He felt a hand on his shoulder and turned around to see the hair-styled man sitting beside him, still cupping the glass of dark-brown liquid in his hand. The jukebox began to play the requested song, cutting the silence between them in two.

“You ever hear of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons? 1950’s pop-music legends, I tell ya,” the hair-styled man said with a slight drunken slur.

The man at the end of the bar turned his head back towards the menu, head tilted almost-parallel to the tabletop. “No, can’t say that I’ve had.”

The hair-styled man chuckled.

“Ah, it’s alright. Not many people have either,” he said, sipping the dark-brown liquid.

The song playing from the jukebox entered what sounded like the chorus. The lead singer had a certain mystical shrill to his voice, almost bordering tonal mockery yet soothing to listen to. It didn’t help that the melody was so damn catchy. The hair-styled man began to sing along, albeit without the same vocal quality.

“Sherry, won’t you come out tonight?”

The song had entered a section with prominent rhythmic beats as the lead singer paused for a brief moment.

“So friend, what brings you hear tonight?” the hair-styled man asked, “Girls?”

“Nah. Nothing like that,” the man at the end of the bar replied, subtly sucking in air at the end.

“Let me guess, self-deprecation?”

The man at the end of the bar started to feel annoyed.

“Now you’re getting on my nerves, friend,” the man at the end of the bar said, putting emphasis on the last word.

“Ha,” the hair-styled man laughed as he placed his dark-brown drink on top of a coaster, “just playing with ya. I’m gonna be frank, I’m a little bit drunk so I’m feeling a little talkative tonight. It’s my birthday today, but all the guys down at the other end of the bar don’t really care. They just want an excuse to drink!”

Somehow the hair-styled man took a large gulp of his drink in-between sentences without the man at the end of the bar noticing.

“So what’s you’re story, man? I’m all ears.” the hair-styled man asked, cupping his free hand over his ear.

The man at the end of the bar took another sip of his almost-empty glass of ginger ale. He lamented at his peril.

“Well, I just graduated from college-”

“Congratulations!” the hair-styled man interrupted.

“…thanks,” the man at the end of the bar said, trying to sip from an empty cup. “So I just graduated and I’m sorta at a crossroads here. You know how it is. The economy is still not that great and it feels as if there’s a huge burden on my chest to start becoming part of the outside world. I’ve applied to a lot of places and it hasn’t turned out well for me so far.”

The mood turned a bit sour between the two.

“So here I am on a Friday night, talking to a drunk man,” the man at the bar said as he calls for the bartender for another glass, “about my problems. Sort of feels a bit cliche, actually.”

The hair-styled man took the finishing gulp from his glass.

“Well, I don’t know what to tell you, man. It sounds rough,” he said as he added a refill for his drink along with the ginger ale, “I know when I was in your shoes I was feelin’ kind of down too. Lots of sleepless nights and lots of despair.”

The man at the end of the bar dipped his head lower than he has ever before.

“But you know what I’ve learned? It’s that you just gotta keep on tryin’, you know? Even when all you got is your head on your shoulders and the shirt on your back, you just gotta keep on tryin’. It’s like what that one guy said, ‘You miss a hundred percent of the shots you don’t take.’ I think it was from Lincoln,”

“Wayne Gretsky.”

“Yeah, Lincoln!” the hair-styled man affirmed while completely ignoring the man at the end of the bar’s correction.

“Point is, you just gotta keep your chin up and set your eyes level to the horizon. And only look up, too,” the hair-styled man said, “You know dogs can’t look up? Deer too. You’re at least better than those guys at the get-go!”

This guy is off the wall, the man at the end of the bar thought.

There is a loud rambling at the other end of the bar, with an arm raised up and doing a “come here” gesture.

“Ah, gotta get back to my friends over there,” the hair-styled man said with even more of a slur than before, “Twas’ great talkin’ to ya, kid. Just remember, keep up at it! Whaddya got to lose?”

The hair-styled man got up from the bar stool, nearly knocking it over in his drunken movements, and stumbled down the walkway towards the rowdy crowd at the end of the bar.

“Gotta look up, he says…” the man at the end of the bar whispered to himself as the bartender reached for his empty glass.

The man at the end of the bar waved his hand. “No thanks, I think I’m done for tonight,” he said as he reached into his pocket for some cash as a tip, “I got some resumes to send out.”