It was in the way her smile never seemed to reach her eyes and how she would laugh “from her mouth and not from her heart”. It was obligatory. What I mistook for irony and sarcasm, dark acerbic humour, were in fact boredom and passive-aggression. I wondered why she was there. I thought she would have been better off sleeping off the previous night’s partying or finding someone more interesting to spend time with. I could not shake the feeling that despite the little fun we were having, I could have probably had more fun alone. But, she was here, and I had to be a man, The Man. I would not be one if I did not hanker after every woman who came near me, now would I? And what would my boyz think anyway? So, there I was, drifting along in a sea of cliche topics – our exes, the (not so much) fun we were having, the (not so much) fun we will have next weekend, the weather, and so on. I am too old for this rigmarole but I did not want to leave just yet.
Maybe if I had another gin and tonic I would (rather, she would) lighten up? That glass of sweet red wine she had before her was clearly not hitting the spot. After two more rounds, the laughter became more frequent and felt relaxed. Maybe that was a sign of the good things to come, not that it mattered by that point. My concentration was waning and my mind kept drifting back to House of Cards. The second season was still sitting on my laptop and I had promised myself I would rewatch it before starting the third. I could feel my own fakery hanging on to me like a musty wet oversized cardigan. There I was pretending to be cooler and smarter than I felt, how well I was doing, how I told her I was “working on some things” and “making moves” and how I watched this interesting video on Vimeo. Have you heard of Vimeo? YouTube is so lame. And for what?
“What am I doing here?” I kept asking myself, and the more times I asked, the further an answer seemed. The music was mind-numbing, the same old dancehall and Top-40 singles with a smattering of old school hip-hop. When I realized I was just looking forward to and enjoying these rare joints, the old school ones, I paid for our drinks and excused myself. I stepped into the cooling night and breathed in the dusty air. I will take that today to the usually intoxicating smell of beer, heat, perfume and bodies. There was a crescent moon out so I could walk home safely. I walked on, into the parking lot, admiring a red Jaguar XJ parked near the entrance of the bar, and I kept walking, ignoring the incessant vibrating of my phone. I walked faster, pushing everything to the back of my mind and focusing on the steadily engulfing silence and the pale light that cast dancing shadows on the road. I should have excused myself, but who was I kidding. I was done with meaningless formalities and it was just another forgettable Saturday night, with forgettable people and forgettable chatter. I ‘forgot’ myself into the semi-darkness.