It was 4pm in the afternoon at the old downtown Eagle. It was one of those visits to the bar where it’s simply for a cold beer. Anything but sitting at home in that apartment. I was consigned to my solitary beer, when he walked in.
He ordered a beer, exchanged small talk with the bartender, then moved into one of those top-lit corners that every leather bar seems to manage. (Does it come in a kit to be installed? Sleazy Corner Leatherbar Light Kit, $9.95! Act now!)
He had a thick Sam Elliot mustache and a sailor’s gait. He wore a seasoned white tank top, body hair sticking through it like netting – and a pair of jeans I wasn’t sure had ever been washed. In other words, he couldn’t have been more my type, if he tried to be.
I kept stealing glances at him from across the bar in my way. It was useless going up and talking to him. I mean, I was a pseudobearded college student studying art history – and he was clearly a man of experience.
Besides, I just suck at small talk, the approach – – all of it. I suck at it so badly, that I just skip it, relieving myself of the torture. Particularly in leather bar settings, I just had nothing of interest it seemed. I literally had a guy say to me once that I needed to practice some more before ever speaking to him again. I’d been laughed at by groups of men I had tried to introduce myself to. It was just easier to dream about what I’d do if one of these men actually talked to me versus the damage to my ego in the attempt.
I headed to the restroom to get rid of the $2 beer, lingering a little bit listening to the music from the jukebox speakers. I returned to the bar to find Mr. Tanktop had relocated himself next to my backpack and coat. I walked up cautiously, and he spoke first.
“Wouldn’t want anyone taking your things while you were in the head, figured I’d protect it all while you were gone.” he said with a wide smile, a slight northeastern accent. He put his thick hand out in a handshake and we were soon lost in conversation.