I haven't been to this stupid bar in over two years, and for a good reason. I always call this place an "Applebee's with a dance floor" because that is exactly what the interior of it looks like. Massive dark wood booths, an assortment of memorabilia plastered all over the walls, an occasional moose head here and there, neon Budweiser logo lights. Oh course, Applebee's does not have a mechanical bull in the middle of the dance floor, nor does it have girls selling beer out of ginormous ice buckets, wearing extremely form-fitting uniforms. But that, of course, just adds to the atmosphere of tackiness.
And when I returned there yesterday with a date, it looked like nothing at all had changed in two years. The bull was still there, along with the tacky memorabilia and, I'm fairly certain, that the dance floor and the outdoor patio was still populated by the same people who were coming there two years ago.
It was drizzling slightly, but the breeze outside felt wonderful so after my date did a round of hand shakes with the familiar bartenders, we decided to go to the patio to have a couple of drinks.
I felt like I had this dating game down to a science and, as we all know, science is a precision-oriented, calculated, cold-blooded profession. I couldn't feel the spark of any kind but I couldn't pinpoint out as to why I was apathetic. Nor was I terribly disappointed about the lack of desire to tear the guy's clothes off then and there.
He... let's call him the Entrepreneur, he was certainly easy on the eyes, intelligent and ambitious, and with a lot of jingle in his pocket. Great style, good personality, well-versed and well-traveled. I was enjoying his company even before the alcohol started to hit me, which is always a good sign.
"...And, you know, I just felt like I couldn't really live in New York for a very long time. I mean, I love the energy and I love how busy it always is but I also like my peace and quiet.." He was telling me about his recent trip to the Big Apple.
I looked around the bar, while at the same time being careful as to nod and smile to show my engagement in our conversation. Meanwhile, these two guys at the bar caught my eye, not because they were particularly attractive or obnoxiously drunk, but because they kept looking over to my table. They, inevitably, noticed me noticing them and, to my slight dismay, one of the guys got off his bar stool and approached our table.
"Hey, can I buy you a shot?" He was direct but friendly.
"What kind of shot?"
"Any kind you want. Tequila?"
"Well I really don't like tequila."
"Yeah, sure. I"ll get you a SoCo and lime. So.. can I buy it for you?"
I was about to say no but before I could say anything the Entrepreneur suggested that we both walk over to the bar and take the guy up on his offer to buy me a shot. He looked undisturbed by the fact that a man just imposed himself onto our table and disrupted the conversation. I felt uneasy but before I could even hesitate I was already on my way to the bar.
"So who is he?" Bar Guy asked, nodding at my date. I looked in the direction of the nod - my date was already busy conversing with a couple of Bar Guy's friends.
"Oh, he's a friend. A good friend," I said with hint of uncertainty. I was pretty sure that the Entrepreneur couldn't hear me, but I also wasn't completely sure. I glanced at the bartender - she was in the process of pouring my shot in a shot glass.
"Oh, a friend?" he didn't seem to believe me, "Well, you looked really bored at the table and I thought you might need to be rescued."
Gosh, I didn't think I looked that disinterested in the Entrepreneur - I was certainly not having a bad time, but maybe my facial expressions were speaking louder than words.
"I don't think I can drink it all at once." my shot finally arrived but as the liquid touched my lips, it tasted toxic and felt overpowering on my tongue. I also was losing whatever little interest I had in the Bar Guy. The whole situation... sandwiched between Bar Guy and Entrepreneur, just enduring the awkwardness for a shot of Southern Comfort. Yeah.... I felt shady.
"Let's go to a different bar," I felt a tap on my shoulder and realized that the Entrepreneur had enough of the conversation with strangers. I looked down at my shot glass - it was still two-thirds full.
"Yeah, okay..." I looked at Bar Guy. God knows what he must have been thinking at that point. He certainly didn't buy my "He's just a friend" excuse. "It was good to meet you. I gotta go."
My date and I squeezed our way through the crowd, making our way to the exit. It felt wrong to be getting a free drink from a random guy and then bolting out of there like the place was on fire. But it was also odd that the Entrepreneur seemed okay with it all. I liked me some free drinks but I also would have liked it if, upon Bar Guy approaching our table, my date would have said something along the lines of "Hey man, it's all good but I don't think the lady is interested." Maybe it can be defined as just some old-fashioned machismo, but I probably would have appreciated it nonetheless.
At any rate, I just did not feel good about the free shot. At least I left two-thirds of it at the bar for Bar Guy to enjoy it. As for the bar itself... I won't be terribly upset if I don't come back there for another two years or so. Maybe getting free shots from random men just ain't for me after all.