With No Twist

19 Jun

No thanks.
She says:
–I can’t drink anything like this. I mean, I can do like the chocotini or the appletini but this, with gin and…
No thanks. I don’t take anything in it. Not even olives. Not a dirty one. Not a vodka one. Oh God, definitely not mixed with that. No thanks.
— …like, I just wouldn’t be able to do it.
She places it just below my nose, on a foam coaster with a drawing of a blue hog. I am alone. There is a match on the giant high-def behind me, but we’re at the half. My team is losing. I am alone in this pub at two-thirty in the afternoon on a Tuesday. Two servers constantly walk by and ask if I’m all right.
No. But there’s no time to get into it. And no interest.
–Yes, thank you.
Yes, thank you.
And again.
Another server walks in. She asks for a glass of red wine. She leafs through the Independent, text messaging on her mobile with the left hand. She looks across the bar at me. She lights a cigarette. And then another. She dials a number. She talks loudly. I am saving the stool next to me for…
–Everything OK?
–Thank you, yes.
–Would you like another?
–Thank you, yes.
The stuff hits me like shards. Little bits of sharp glass burrowing into the skin from the feet up. The girl at the other end of the bar, the off-duty server, receives her order in a Styrofoam container. She talks loudly to the barkeep. She dials a number on the mobile. She waits. There is nothing. She lights another. The shadows move from the library, behind me, and bleed onto the corner of the bar. They creep up slowly. The barkeep shift changes. It’s now an older woman with a heavy Irish accent. She looks like Brenda Blethyn. I think they get these people out of Central Casting. Why would any Irishwoman want to be here? Now. In this part of the country? Serving at a pub? I don’t trust anything or anyone anymore. It’s all sent from Central Casting. It’s all manufactured for our pleasure. She asks in her Irish accent what’s mine. I tell her.
–Twist of lemon peel?
I say no.
–Olive? Onion?
I don’t want a salad. Just a martini.
–Thank you, nothing.
The off-duty server gathers her things and leaves. She walks by and shoots a look and smiles. I smile back. She’s followed by another young woman in black uniform. In transit:
–Everything OK here?
Shards. Absurdity. Contradiction between the desire of human reason and the unreasonable world.
–Peachy keen.
I don’t know why I say that. It’s smug. I’m not usually like that.
The contradiction must be lived; reason and its limits must be acknowledged, without hope. However, the absurd can never be accepted: it requires constant confrontation, constant revolt.
Peachy keen.
Dandy.
What in hell?
The sun moves. The second half begins. There is just me again. The barkeep has tucked her Irish self away somewhere and I’m left staring at the upside down bottles.
Bushmills. Johnnie Red. Black. Cutty. Chivas. Grouse.
And then some fancy stuff: Macallan. Glenmorangie. Abelour. Balvenie. Lowland, highland…I don’t know any of this stuff.
I am alone. Men in orange are fighting men in yellow on the high-def behind me. The volume to the match is down. The pub is blasting Phil Collins on the speakers. Then Bonnie Tyler. Then Wham. It’s a horrible time warp. The door opens and outside light floods the bar momentarily. It’s an old, decrepit woman with blue hair pushing a walker. The back legs have been shoved into cut-out tennis balls, in order for the walker to slide smoothly. She labours past me. She smiles. I smile back. She disappears somewhere. I don’t see her again.
–Another, sir?
–Thank you.
–Twist of lemon peel with that?
–No, no twist. Thanks.

(Author’s Notes)

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6 Responses to “With No Twist”

  1. Slyboots 19/06/2008 at 9:13 PM #

    I like this one- it conjures up just the right amount of isolation and interaction. I love the loud server on her phone- trying to suck up all the attention in the room- she got yours. Ah, kids these days.

  2. (S)wine 20/06/2008 at 5:49 PM #

    Thanks.

  3. Slyboots 20/06/2008 at 7:21 PM #

    Oh, and hey, take off, eh!

  4. momentofchoice 22/06/2008 at 5:04 AM #

    i think i’m due for a chocotini.

  5. (S)wine 23/06/2008 at 4:50 PM #

    You’re on your own for this one. I’ll be at the place at which they don’t assume I want vodka with dry vermouth. Which basically is: at home.

  6. momentofchoice 23/06/2008 at 5:58 PM #

    actually, you’ll be carting me around canada thank you very much. woot!

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