DATELINE WINTER 2006, BUCKHEAD AREA, ATLANTA, GA — Some friends and I went out to a bar last night, to listen to another friend play in his cover band, “Corporate America”. He plays bass, and sings a bit. He did a really good job, actually, although I’m undecided about the band in general. I mean, it’s a three-piece guitar/bass/drums playing 80’s and 90’s covers. So… you know… *shrug*
But that’s not what I’d like to discuss here. I want to bitch about the bar scene.
We got to the bar, and it was fairly crowded. A selection of youngish boys and girls, dressed fairly nicely in their sweaters and pants and such. The guys all looked very healthy in that frat-boy kind of way, and the girls all had their straight hair brushed and that flippy thing going on at the bottom. Lots of shoulder-length bobs.
Most of the girls were normal, but there was a sprinkling of girls who were just trying waaaay too hard. One girl had this weird-ass silver belt, not really holding up anything, and a sweater, which might have been cashmere, but was probably not because she had tied this little knot tied in the back, which lifted the bottom of the sweater to reveal some midriff/hip. It was WEIRD. I mean, hey, I’m all for midriffs, and I have to admit that on the right girl the fashion of short shirts is really attractive. But tying a knot in the back of your sweater seems like a misconceived attempt at sartorial creativity. Baby, Project Runway this ain’t. It’s a fake Irish bar in Buckhead. Don’t fuck up a perfectly good sweater.
At one point there was some feedback over the PA. It was loud, it was painful, you know the drill. It was feedback, you know? Who hasn’t heard feedback? You wince, you hold your ears, you understand that sometimes it happens and nobody does it intentionally. Play it casual. Well, knot-girl winced and held her ear, but also turned and looked at the band with this WITHERING look of absolute DISGUST on her face. Play it up a little more girl. What was she trying to accomplish? It was totally an act, but I couldn’t figure out who the audience was. Was she trying to look superior… to the BAND?
Many of the girls seemed to be there with guys, and the rest seemed to be there with girlfriends, you know, kind of a girls-night-out sort of deal. There didn’t seem (to me) to be a whole lot of mingling of singles who hadn’t known each other before that night. Which was strange to me. Isn’t that supposed to be the idea? Ok, maybe it’s not. Maybe the idea is to just go out with some friends, talk, drink, and have fun. But that leads me to the next point.
How in the HELL could that place have been any fun to hang out? I was there to hear the band, so the music was the point. But if you were there to hang out, not listening to the band really except when they played a song you like (some people would sing along once they heard something they recognized), it was too loud to hear yourself think, much less talk to a friend. Is there no alternative? I mean, you have to YELL at each other to speak. Is there some kind of privacy involved in having only the person you’re yelling at understand you? Maybe. Perhaps that’s the thing. You can have a private conversation in the middle of a crowd, by virtue of the din surrounding you.
But me, I want to sit quietly, preferably in a booth, and speak in a normal tone of voice. If I’m there to hear the music, it’s one thing. But for conversation? I’d rather be anywhere than a loud club or bar. It’s easier to have a conversation in a power plant. There has to be a better way. A more pleasant place to congregate, an easier way to meet people. But we’ve had a thousand years to find one, and bars with loud music and a meat market are still around. But on second thought, remember how I said most of the people there seemed to be with someone already? Is that loud bar really their idea of a good time spent with good friends, or a significant other? Jesus. I would so much rather be bowling.
After a while, say around midnight, all the girls left. It was freaky. Suddenly I looked around and aside from the girls we were with (my friend Rob’s wife, and the bassist’s wife), the ratio had become like 7/1 in favor of guys.
Maybe the girls all left because the place just plain STANK. They have a patio with these gas heaters, which apparently don’t burn all that efficiently, because every time the door to the patio opened, there was this waft of gas smell. Rob said it smelled like cabbage. John the bassist said it smelled like ass. We came to a consensus that it really smelled like cabbage that had been in someone’s ass. Ass-cabbage.
But I have no idea why the guys were sticking around. They seemed kind of aimless, like they just didn’t have anywhere else to go, so they were just staying where they were. Lost. Like “hey bra, where the honeys go”. Dude, they took a look at your fuckin’ Izod sweater and decided they had better things to do in less stanky environs.
There was one group of four guys who had basically hung out with each other all night, doing guy things like punching each other on the shoulder and doing something weird with a straw. At one point one of the guys was doing something to his drink, and this girl kind of RUSHED over and took the straw out of his hand. I have no idea why, but she seemed kind of perturbed.
But it wasn’t a case of a stranger-girl flirting with a guy from across the room; apparently they were together. You know how you can tell a couple who’s just plain together vs. one who just hooked up? They were together. But when this guy left, the group of guys he had (I guess) been performing for (previously mentioned) stuck around. They had been standing, then they migrated to some tables. Sat, stood, sat, drank a little more, basically looking drunk and lost. They were still there when we left.
As for my party, we stuck around to hear the band play “Born to Run”, because John the Bassist has a solo in that one and his wife was waiting to listen to him. Testify, brother! It was a pretty pleasant way to end the evening, all things considered. It’s a good solo. Good times. I like those guys, and since we had been there to hear the band it was a nice evening. Aside from the stank.
But as for all those kids, and any singles who had been there looking to hook up or experience that lightning-strike of a connection with someone, I can’t help but contemplate the contextual truth behind Mr. Springsteen’s timeless lyrics, which now seem so appropriate to that bar, and that moment:
Someday girl I don’t know when
We’re gonna get to that place
Where we really want to go
And we’ll walk in the sun
But till then tramps like us
Baby we were born to run
Good luck, kids. If bars like this are the best we can do for you, the species is doomed.