Everything in the bar is low. There's a step down as you saunter through the doors of green painted wood and etched glass. The tables are barely high enough to keep from bruising your kneecaps and the stage is a mere four inches high. Its the kind of place that everyone is forced to look down on, literally. Though, that doesn't stop me from loving the place.
The lights are low but this hardly matters, the whole front wall is made of untinted glass and all of the eyes of the world can stare in as I stare out. The street lights on Virginia Avenue clearly illuminate the faces of the other patrons, the stained labels on bottles of scotch, the imperfections in the surface of the antique tables and the corona of smoke that forms a shadowy miniscus above the revelers' heads.
A man sits on stage with a guitar. He strums with practiced apathy. His voice is unpolished granite and his songs are rough things of working class woe and sexual comedy. Half the room is riotous, clapping and singing along to his conflagration of notes and chuckles. Half the room couldn't be bothered.
I sing along. I join in the revelry, the swilling of beer, the cheering for toasts and the percussion of clapping hands. Most nights this is my joy. This is the place where I can crawl out of the dankness of my own head and see the world as others see it, where I can commune with a community and not with the fey between my ears and my own doubting guts. Tonight one of those nights. I've no joy, no song in me to make me sing. I glance around the table at the people I readily call my friends and find that, tonight I don't have anything in common with any of them, not tonight.
I don't know why I feel this way, detached, apathetic, nihilistic and simply un-present. To be sure, there's much on my mind but isn't that always the case of affairs when I'm foolish enough to be awake. Tonight's just not a night for revelry, not a night for joy. So, I don my coat and I tip the singer a dollar. I swig my the last of my beer and, without goodbyes to my erstwhile companions, step out into the cold. It's refreshing, the cold, so much more immediate, so much more engaging that the bar or the beer or the jostling between my ears. Some nights are just like that.