I sit in the back corner facing the entire dive bar as I mindlessly play with my pearl necklace and smoke a cigarette. I order the usual, cheap beer and whiskey. My Choo heels keep slipping off the bar’s foot rest because the damned thing is covered in grease and god-knows what else. The only reason why the two construction workers sitting across from me probably do not think I am a hooker is because they have seen me here countless of times before with friends, or all alone- never picking up ‘clients’.
I look at my phone, it is 7:30 PM. I have a date with the CFO of a hotel chain in Las Vegas at an upscale jazz bar in one of his hotels at 8pm. I should be excited. He is sharp, clever, assertive, divorced, and has good taste. But he is my exact height and that is a major turn-off. I intentionally wore 4 inch heels so I can look down on him. He will have to find a way to compensate and I’m kind of looking forward to that.
Two hours ago I sat through a fashion show benefit for a cancer foundation in the company of my boss, some investors, and their wives. Why couldn’t a single investor be a female? What is there about investing that women just leave it up to men? This baffles me. All you need is a bank account, trusted advisors, and a passion for anything- really, just about anything. They already go to the networking events, they have the contacts, they are present during important insider conversations, yet none of them partakes on anything. I had one of them tell me the story of how she suffered a miscarriage just a few months ago. I thought she was joking. For one, she is telling something so personal to a complete stranger, and secondly, her face was so frozen with botox that her expression was not of sadness but one of mild surprise. I realized it wasn’t a joke when tears came out of her smiling eyes.
I agreed to attend the after-party event but I didn’t mean it. I couldn’t bear another hour of that. I rather sit here, right next to the hot dog warmer, and strike up a conversation about unions with an off-duty taxi cab driver.
Dive bars have a special place in my heart. These places are devoid of the formalities and the frou-frou you find at the swanky lounges. No one here is above anything. Here even the drinks are honest, none of that myriad of unheard of spirits in a single cocktail. I once went to a bar where the American bartender (probably from Florida) refused to say “rose water”. He insisted in saying to the American patrons “eau de rosè”. I was asked to leave the bar when I exclaimed “You mean rosewater you pompous ass?” In my defense, he was a condescending prick when he explained the list of ingredients really fast, implying ‘why do you even bother to ask, gentile?’.
The people that frequent these places have stories worthy of attention. I do not want to hear about your time at Cornell, about the structured upbringing your parents master-engineered for you, about how you have not lost any points in your license, or about your donation to your presidential candidate. I want to hear about that time you jumped a fence you weren’t supposed to jump, about that band you had years ago, about your experience with acid, or that crazy sex you had with the even crazier ex.
If you come to this bar, you are not afraid of failing at something. You appreciate ardent, at times uneducated, but yet sincere debate. You value the pursuit of self-awareness and unmasked truth at a much higher degree than the pursuit of socio-economical status. And then there are the few that cherish all that but only come to this bar for a moment, they cannot stay. The ones that will share a bench with a homeless girl, and an hour later a cigar with a seasoned venture capitalist. The ones that come, blend in, and leave because they have another place to come in, blend in, and leave.
Despite all the cheap liquor, this is not the type of place you come to escape demons. This is the type of place you come to embrace them.
I hand the bartender $4 for my drinks, and that includes tip.