He, and by he I mean I, but let’s not get personal, arrives at his favorite bar with his old friend. His old friend is about his age, very intelligent and beautiful. She’s in town on business. He’s often in other towns on business, but rarely gets a chance to connect with old friends like this.
And she isn’t just an old friend. They have, as they say, history. They had had dinner closer to the city center, but he suggested this out of the way bar as a way to explore the city.
They walk in and he half expects the place to be packed, but isn’t surprised when it isn’t. There’s a different bartender at the bar than the one he knows well. They order their drinks- a beer for her, and a bourbon rocks for him- then they go outside to chat in the patio.
While outside he thinks to the time he hugged his recent love on this very patio- how the bar staff forgot they were out there and then came to retrieve them an hour after closing time. He tries not to be distracted but can’t help but be.
They reminisce about their lives, and a man, a self described interloper, tries to get into their conversation. At first the interloper ashes into their ashtray, but then he gives the interloper a look and the interloper moves a few feet away.
It’s only when his friend describes being in a foreign country and drunk all the time that the interloper speaks again, “You sound like a lot of fun.”
Then he retreats back into the bar.
They sit in the mild night a bit longer before the bartender comes out to smoke a cigarette. At this point he, the he of the story, not the bartender, is telling his friend a story. The bartender interjects, “I couldn’t help but overhear, but that’s awesome.”
It was a story about smoking. Smokers love each other- they’re a dying breed.
Then the bartender tells them that the patio is closed, but if that they want to stay outside for a bit that’s fine- they’re not loud. He remembers that that’s exactly what another bartender had told him and his date back then. He lights a cigarette.
Once he’s done smoking they move inside. They get another round and chat some more. About dating. She’s currently in a relationship that sounds as messy as they tend to be. He hams up a story about a recent date, after the recent love, not mentioning that his heart is in the process of breaking.
Then her friend calls- who just got broken up with tonight. She takes the call, telling her friend how much better she is than her now ex. In his mind, he can’t help but go right back to work- he’s revising all the words of his old friend in order to squeeze another inch of effectiveness out of them. “Don’t say ‘he doesn’t deserve you’, say that ‘he’s not worth your time’. The ‘he doesn’t deserve you’ line focuses on him, not your friend.”
He doesn’t give this advice, thankfully.
Instead he goes out to smoke a cigarette. As he’s outside he looks at the doorway where he once kissed his recent love. A cab pulls up and a couple get out and walk into the doorway where they once stood. His stomach is weak at this moment.
The bartender and another man walk out. They chat about the bartender he knows and become fast friends. Once all are done with their cigarettes he joins his friend again, finishing her phone call.
They talk about how difficult it is when relationships end. Her relationship is ending, but she seems at peace with it. He tells her about the end of his long term relationship years ago. She says she was surprised. He says neither party was happy with it, but that it was time.
They finish their drinks and a cab comes quickly. They stop by his place first- hug goodbye. She tells him to take care of himself.
He says “You too”. And hopes he can follow her advice.