Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Traces

Last Saturday night, after the Body Language opening, I decided to go out for a nice beer and read. I chose the Oak because every time I've been in there, the lights have been anywhere from lowish to garish. Always bright enough to read by, at any rate. And they have Guinness reliably. What I wanted was a Guinness and my Believer.

I thought I might be in trouble when I got there. There was a bouncer at the door. There was a guy behind a couple turntables. This is a neighbourhood pub. With a bouncer? A dj? Not quite right. I walked in. And the dj, a non-pro, made a phony-voiced announcement "Hey, kids, welcome to METAL NIGHT at the oak. This one goes out to..."

Luckily, the bar is divided into thirds. And though the darkness of METAL NIGHT had taken over the left and centre third, the right third was mercifully bright. I took a seat, my back to the TV, lay my magazine and book on the table, ignored the surprised looks from the people at the table beside. Yes, actually, people do like to have a beer and read a magazine by themselves on a Saturday night. In public. I'm okay, you're okay.

Settled in, I looked up. Across and down a couple tables was a guy reading the paper and doing the crossword. He looked up, we shared a brief smile, we both went back to reading. I got through a very well written book review and a quarter of my pint. Halfway through "When Basketball Imitates Melville," the worst happened, and the lights went down.

I slapped the magazine on the table, looked up in irritation, and in sychronization with the guy across from me. We both raised our eyebrows, refolded our reading material and held it up close to our faces.

Even with the light of the hockey game behind me, I was struggling, trying to get the magazine folded just so, frustrated when they went to commercial and the white glare from the ice disappeared.

I lowered the magazine and rubbed the bridge of my nose. I was getting a headache. But I had a beer to finish, dammit, and nothing else with which to distract myself.

Then saved! Karen and her crew from the vernissage came in. I gathered my reading material, my coat and scarf, my corn chips and salsa, Andre grabbed my beer, and I moved whole hog over.

We all chatted for a while, going over the evening in detail. It was a delight to watch Sarah and Karen together. I watched them tell an entire story to each other with their eyes, leaned forward, the eye messages flying back and forth in front of Andre.

The place filled up a little, though never got full. The people who'd given me puzzled looks settled up and moved along. New people took their place. The TV cut to commercial, cut back to the white ice-glare, its glow over the new people. My pulse jumped.

I looked closer.

The guy now sitting at the close end of the table was a normal looking guy, nice enough looking, probably cute to lots of people. He was wearing a green jacket with a white zipper and white piping along the raglan sleeves.

If you had asked me what jacket Eric wore on cool summer days, I probably would have stumbled for a few moments, searching my visual database for an image. My heart? It knew immediately.

2 comments:

Psychic Librarian said...

I really enjoyed reading this...

Kerri said...

Ooo, I love The Believer. I have three years of back issues (Nov. 03-Nov 06) that I don't have room for anymore. Free to a good home, in case you're interested in some or all of them.