Making the Best of Things

I’m sitting in a hotel beer garden under the dappled shade of an impressively large maple.

I’m supposed to be here on a date with someone who actually sounded quite keen to see me a week ago.  As a result while I’m not that good at presentation overall, today I’ve made a considerable effort to turn out well. 

I try to look happy as I sit alone while the pub continues to swell around me with the growing afternoon beer garden crowd. 

Of course, I’m anything but happy. 

I’ve now been sitting here for over an hour already and my “date,” is still yet to appear.

Luckily I bought myself a pint before I deposited myself at the table. 

As I play with the drips of condensation on my glass I can feel my face going slightly red at the fact that I’m even on a date.  Even the word is such a stupid American term.  The more I think about the word, the more ridiculous I find it.  I actually have my very own “date” anyway, one that is actually a part of my personal anatomy.  I’m currently sitting on it in fact.  Why would I even need another date?  I’ve got my own arsehole, and as far as arseholes go, it’s actually pretty good.

Anyway, I’m digressing.  I take another swig of ale and tell myself to get a grip.  Why am I even thinking about my anus at such a time anyway?  The reality of the situation is that this date is a complete failure and I must focus on what to do next. 

Unfortunately instead of working out what to do next I end up staring off into the distance. I hope that this will give the impression that I’m in the habit of frequenting this hotel’s beer garden for a quiet beer on the weekends because I’m a busy self-employed business woman who gains inspiration from such places. 

I then start asking myself where I went wrong.  All the usual I’m-a-total-arsehole indicators were missing when I met him, and they were absent again when he phoned afterwards.  Obviously just an outstanding actor but actually a complete f*$#wit.  Better to have found out now anyway, I tell myself.  Despite the fact that I’d rather the let down now, I’m not enjoying the sudden feeling of complete loneliness that is crushing my heart. 

The late afternoon sun is dropping quickly and by now the beer garden is almost at capacity.  A group of young men on a stag night pub crawl appear and ask if they can sit at my table.  I agree, knowing that there is no need to hold one square inch of it for anyone else, despite the fact that I’m not really in the mood for a group of completely trashed 25 year old blokes.  Fortunately, aside from being rather merry, they are friendly and actually an uplifting distraction.  They are even interested in talking to me, which I find heartening.  I also like the fact that I’m in the harmless older woman category for them, as they are in the harmless young bloke category for me.

After a bit of a chat with the young fellas I excuse myself.  My pint glass is empty and I decide that for as long as I stay at the hotel on this particular occasion, I’d like to at least have a glass of something in my hand.  Plus I might as well make the best of the situation, considering that I’m here now and I’m dressed at least half decently. 

Luckily the bar of this hotel is the kind that has bar stools in front of it, mainly for the old men that come down for one or two in the afternoon during the week, or for people like me who have been stood up and feel like another drink before they go home.

I seat myself on a bar stool at the quieter side of the bar that is not too close to the other bar flies.  Once equipped with an ice cold pint, I think about what I could get done around the house tonight. 

I love the anonymity of pubs, and the fact that anyone can pull up a bar stool and enjoy the hotel revelry without having to participate directly.  It’s not normally the sort of thing you can do quite as easily at those inane over-priced clubs. 

The peace that I am enjoying is unfortunately short lived.  A couple of blokes suddenly and somewhat unsteadily break out of the crowd.  One of them seems to be directing the operation, holding the arm of his completely intoxicated friend.  Predictably, he plonks him on a bar stool right next to me.  I’m a little surprised that the friend hasn’t as yet been turfed out of the establishment altogether, though it’s probably because it’s still early and the bouncers have only just started their evening shift.    

The drunk gentleman is of the talkative variety.  His words are heavily slurred and he seems to be asking his friend why almost continuously.  The friend’s name appears to be Joe, as indicated by his drunk friend who is using it rather repetitively.  Joe requests water for his mate, but he is too drunk to be interested in this. 

I make a concerted effort to appear uninterested in what is taking place right next to me.

This is more difficult than expected, because Joe is actually rather hot.  By hot, I mean industrial furnace hot, and a stifling tropical heat has all of a sudden settled in the hotel. 

I take a sip of my beer to try to cool down.  I recall that I’m actually sitting by myself here because I’ve been stood up, so now is probably not the best time to try to sell my many irresistible qualities to someone else.  Joe seems to have quite enough on his plate at the minute anyway. 

The drunk gentleman continues to ask Joe why.  His friend continuously replies, “its not your fault, man, she just wasn’t good enough for you.”  The drunk friend then starts babbling in a quiet voice about someone female, becoming teary as he does so.  Meanwhile his friend finally finds a number on his mobile and puts a call through.  I hear him asking someone called Will to come and collect them, explaining that Dan is not in a good way.  Will appears to respond in the affirmative and Dan is then told, “you’ll be allright man, Will is coming to pick us up.  You deserve someone much better than her.”

I like how Joe handles the situation, and the fact that he tells his friend exactly the same things I tell mine when they break up with some remarkable f$*#wit or other.

I continue drinking my pint.  Dan continues to cry, and suddenly almost falls off his bar stool on to me.  His friend re-seats him just in time, apologising with a smile as he does so.

Mmmm, I think, that was definitely worth it. 

Gorgeous smile. And the eyes, rrrrrrooooooffffff! 

I instantly smile and wave off the apology with a no worries.

Dan and Joe then return to more blubbering and more reassuring until I notice Joe look outside at a dual cab that has stopped awkwardly on the road outside the pub. 

“Come on Dan, Will’s here to pick us up,” he states as he gets up.  Dan doesn’t appear to be too keen on moving, and his torso waves about clumsily on his bar stool. 

I notice that no one else seems to be coming to Joe’s aid.  I’m wonderfully sober, so I figure I might as well offer some help.

“Do you want a hand?” I ask Joe.  “Yeah, that’d be great,” he replies with a smile, running a hand through his hair in frustration.  He takes one of Dan’s arms and I take the other, introducing myself to Dan as we manhandle him out of the bar towards the road. 

Luckily Will is still waiting on the road side in his dual cab ute and he hops out to help as we approach.  Once the car door is open I let Will take over and Dan is eventually seated in the vehicle.

They both thank me.  “It was nothing,” I say as I hastily retreat back inside the hotel, hoping that my face is not as flushed as it feels.  At least it turns out that my presence at this hotel on this particular occasion wasn’t a total waste of time.  Not only that, the events that have just taken place around me are an excellent reminder that there are other fish in the sea for all of us, so to speak.

Back at the bar I take another large gulp of beer and wonder what scaly leftovers I’ve got in the fridge to eat for dinner, when all of a sudden Joe appears at the bar again.

I wonder if I’m dreaming as I attempt a hasty swallow of the mouthful of beer, looking like a goldfish trying to smile.  “I’ve got to go,” I hear him saying, “but I just thought I’d give you my number in case you ever wanted to catch up again, minus my drunk friend.”  With that he hands me a faded receipt with a mobile number written on the back of it. His final gift is an intense smile, and then he is gone.  

I stare at the mobile number and this time my now deflated goldfish face turns a lovely deep red wine shade.  The hotel noise has disappeared around me and I’m in my own ecstatic little world.

I finish my pint and walk around the corner to my place, a dropping sun in my eyes.  I’m grinning foolishly at nothing in particular as I walk. 

It occurs to me that making the best of the situation apparently really is the way to do it.

I’m well aware that nothing will probably come of the afternoon’s events.  But even if nothing does, someone was interested in me at one moment in time, and that was all I needed.

Postscript:  Something does come of the afternoon’s events, and in fact more somethings than I could’ve even dreamt of. 

Just goes to show. 

All of the amazing images included in this essay are taken from the awesome website

© Annemaree Jensen 2019