I have spent a great many hours in bars, starting with the bars of my hometown, the places where my brothers took me to hang among their friends. In those days, I stood out, and not just because I was one of the few 18 year olds allowed into strictly 21 and over bars. I wasn’t a drinker back in my early college days. In fact, it wasn’t until I moved out on my own (to Charlotte) that I began my illustrious love affair with the finest of heaven’s nectars: Hard liquor.
(It was in Philly that I first drank vodka, and it has been an undignified, sloppy orgy ever sense.)
I love to go to bars. Dive bars. Dance clubs. Pool halls. Even frat bars in a pinch. If some make-up shellacked bar maiden with a stick up her ass or a disinterested bro with a tribal tattoo is serving drinks, count me in. I’ll be treated like dismissible chaff if the drink is stiff enough. I don’t need you to be my friend, I just need to taste the alcohol.
Bars attract all types and the fun of being a generally unpersonable cunt is that I get to observe these types in their natural habitat, without having to get their personality splooge on my shirt.
Today, I bring you the first in what may be a series. Or it may be the only one I ever do. You really can’t tell with us drunk types.
The Talkative Loner
Let me set the scene: I’m immersing myself in the dimly lit bar, the wood siding and nearly depleted candles washing the whole establishment in shades of brown and basically-brown, purposefully nondescript because this bar is simultaneously a neighborhood restaurant and boring. It packs in the crowds for the simple reason that when you come here you don’t have to be sexy and you don’t have to have a good story. You come with a desire for an overpriced drink or an appetite for greasy fries and artery-clogging burgers; this place will do you right.
On the two flat-screen televisions hanging over the bar, Sunday Night Football beams, the San Diego “San Diego has a team?”s losing to the Pittsburgh “We have to play a 4th quarter?”s.
Sitting alone in not-quite-the-corner, finishing the chef’s special and his third beer of the night is our hero: Almost 6 feet tall, shaggy brown hair with a nasal septum piercing and blue jeans. God damn blue jeans. He’s almost good looking except for his inability to pick a look and stick with it. He looks like a paper doll cut out from AP Magazine by a Tourette’s riddled emo kid.
One minute, our loner is enjoying his beer and mistaking the cocktail waitress’ chatter for sexual interest, the next he’s suddenly in a full own dialogue with the couple sitting across from him. He knows what school they’re going to, what their majors are and he’s somehow inserted himself into the decision making process of the couple’s non-competitive chess game (yes, this is one of those bars where they have board games in the corner). The couple isn’t put off by this man interjecting himself into their evening out. Or, at least, the girl isn’t. The guy hasn’t looked up from the chess board for five minutes, even though he finished his turn four and a half minutes ago.
Fast forward ten minutes and our intrepid protagonist has moved on from the couple and is now chatting up the guitarist who is playing an evening set for free drinks and the (unfruitful) chance of getting laid. Not only is our hero a fan of the musician, he is damn impressed. He likes what he hears. He wonders what tuning the guitarist is using. Oh, and by the way, he plays a little music himself. He’s not great or anything, but he dabbles.
Our hero is The Talkative Loner. If he were a superhero and wore spandex, his colors would be mauve and puce. He has very little of his own personality until he comes into contact with someone else, and then, suddenly, he’s like, you know, so totally into that band, too, and yeah, I enjoy de Balzac but I find he lacks heart. He’s not quite a cipher as he’s just pleasant enough to be around that at the end of the night you think, “That guy was cool.” But, 2 weeks later, you don’t even remember you met him.
Our hero isn’t a fraud. While nothing he says is genuine, he isn’t lying. He just has no personality of his own and latches onto other people’s good times. He’s like a viral parasite, minus the radiating sex appeal.
At the same time, there is no reason to dislike this guy. He’ll smoke cigarettes outside with you to keep you company, tell you how interesting it is that you’re pursuing a doctorate in Wheat Germ Manipulation and assure you that, though he’s never seen your favorite movie, he’s heard good things. He’s damn likable but you won’t remember him next week and that’s for the best because if you did think about him later on, you’d recall that he not only asked you what neighborhood you lived in, he oddly asked you what your apartment number was.
He’d be creepy if he wasn’t so damn forgettable.
The Talkative Loner shares a lot of genetic material with your average Run-of-the-mill Loner: He’s kind of boring; he doesn’t have many actual friends; his parents don’t return his calls. But he lacks one specific genetic trait: Inhibition. Put enough alcohol in any loner, and he’ll become The Talkative Loner. The difference, though, is the natural Talkative Loner can go from 0 to Conversational in less than half a beer.
Survey 90% of the true Loners in the world and you’ll find a writer/musician/poet/puppeteer under the surface. Dig deep into a Talkative Loner, and you’ll find that they were in color guard in high school and their favorite band is Oasis. Plus, they’re lousy in the sack.
The Talkative Loner: Fixtures on the bar scene, but you may go your entire life and not realize that you’ve had a hundred different conversations with them. They aren’t bad people. Hell, they aren’t even unlikable. But they are empty, soulless people, and if you aren’t careful they will attach themselves to you while you sleep. And then they will impregnate you.
I may be getting them confused with incubi.
All I’m trying to say is, enjoy your night out, drink responsibly, and if you meet a Talkative Loner, protect your uterus.