The smell in here is terrible, hot, and choking. I imagine I’m trapped inside a giant Plexiglas box, the walls of which are covered in a filthy yellow film, as I gulp down lungfuls of swirling second hand smoke in the name of relaxation.
The room is so fucking loud I can’t hear myself think, and I’m pinched between two rickety tables in the middle of the floor. Result – every time one of the painted, shrieking secretaries behind me wants to have a pee, she shoves her chair hard into my back.
At first, the old girls were aware enough of their surroundings to mouth the word ‘sorry’, to which I’d reply with a tight grin and a wave of the hand signifying, ‘No problem.’ We are nothing without manners.
As the night wears on, they’re lucky if they can stand up on their own let alone apologize for whacking me in the fucking shoulders, or spilling my drink. I grit my teeth and ask my friends (once again) if there isn’t another table available. No such luck from these fuckers.
“No way!” They’re all smiles. “This is a great table! We’re right in front of the stage! Rocky’s playing tonight!” Somehow, this answers everything. Outnumbered and outgunned, cheap beer and simple times are all that matter to this lot, adhering to a simple philosophy: Any bad situation can be easily mended with a tired joke or a gander at some pretty bird across the room. “You just need more beer!”
“No, I don’t.” I shake my head, confused, somewhat irritated. “And your logic is fucking retarded.”
Relax, calm down. Something must be done. I examine my options. One, I could lose my shit. Stand up, shout my good-byes, call everyone a bunch of dirty names and stomp out early. Bad form. I’ll become an instant asshole, and no one will understand the real cause and effect of it all.
Two, I can quietly get up, thank everyone for a good time, and slink back to my depressing little apartment near the Metro for a late snack and a movie, which sounds so utterly fucking depressing that I decide against it straight away and head straight to option three, which is ignore the bad vibes entirely and lose myself in a conversation with my trusty notebook, as I’ve done a hundred nights before, as I’m doing even now.
So why am I here in the first place? Because the few friends I have in my immediate life graciously invited me. They haven’t known me for very long, but they told me when I arrived in Old Town that ‘Murphy’s was the place for a guy like me.’ I never got a real explanation.
Now, being lower-class, an atheist, and a spin doctor for the Man you’d think I’d employ some really effective anti-bullshit measures, making me completely impervious to such shameless ego-stroking wankery. You’d think. It should in fact make me ninja smart, a man who carries out his personal affairs with the steady precision of the Godfather himself. It should, at that. Instead, it makes me just another sheep on the abattoir ramp, albeit with his eyes open.
Granted, I didn’t have to come tonight; no one held a gun to my head and demanded that I enjoy myself. I like being alone, it lets me charge my batteries. But after awhile the batteries are full and the charger gets hot, and what’s the point of charging your batteries if you never use them?
Which brings us back to another Saturday night sitting around a wobbling, sticky table trying to decide how best to forget my work week. There’s Scotch – quick on the draw, but hard on the wallet. There’s bourbon – the sticky sweet nectar of my youth. And there’s beer, which will make me feel like I’ve shot-gunned a loaf of wheat bread and give me hellacious mud shits tomorrow.
Murphy’s is your ‘completely unique, one-of-a-kind, quirky little neighborhood Irish experience,’ …and not really just another wooden hole along the street where a fellow with a touch of the Auld Country and an acoustic guitar sings the same tired repertoire of drinking songs passed along from generation to generation, night after fucking night. (Yes, it is.)
Another song starts in, and the whole place lights up like they’ve never heard it before. Judging by the reaction, you’d think a goddamned meteor just crashed through the roof, cracked in half and shat out a man with two heads and an acoustic guitar, who launched into a never-before-heard rendition of ‘Who The Fuck is Alice?’
Nothing lasts forever and as the end of the night draws near, the beer-fueled solidarity begins to unravel, cracking and drifting apart like ice floes. The ringleader gets his feelings hurt in a simple miscommunication and wanders off into the night in search of chicken, refusing to answer the calls and text messages that chase after him.
I just wish things were different. Why can’t I make friends with people who build robots in their spare time, or find someone in the area looking for another person to round out their geocaching party? Why the beer logic? Why the tired façade?