.

 

I Met a Woman at a Bar

A friend insisted I come out despite my absolute non-desire to go out on a Sunday night, and a pile of work remaining at home. I showed up in sartorial shame, jeans and a button shirt, hair sticking up, full of self-hatred. He introduced me to the woman with whom he'd been talking and slipped away to chat up someone else.

This was a confident, attractive person, small and thin with dark brown hair and an expensive blouse and anime eyes, about 27. I asked her how she met my friend. “We used to go out,” she said. “But you know.”

“Absolutely,” I said.

She smiled and nodded, and said, “I know, right? But what do you do?”

“Not much you can do.”

“No, I meant, what do you do for a living?”

I thought for a moment. “I'm a typographer at Condé Nast,” I said.

“What's that like?”

“I'm in the colon department.”

“Is it a lot of work?”

“I have to verify all the colons in five Condé Nast publications. Mostly I deal with all the colons at Vogue. But I'm getting certified on the em-dash. I do Italian colons, too.”

“You work at Vogue? That's cool.” Her gaze sharpened. “I'm in fashion.”

“How so?”

“I co-manage a vintage shop, on East 6th St. In Williamsburg, but we also have some originals.”

“That sounds great,” I said. I needed urgently to not talk about that, to never have that conversation. A crowd of people clustered around the entrance, sucking down cigarettes, so, grasping, I said: “it's so strange to have bars with clean air.”

“I hated it at first. But it makes it so much easier to cheat, right?” Giggling.

“Really?”

“I don't smell like smoke anymore. So I leave work, go out, meet someone, have a stick of gum, and go back to my place.”

“And at your place?”

“I live with my boyfriend. It was supposed to be open. Ha, right?” She touched my shoulder. “But he works all the time and gets home at 2 in the morning and gets no play and gets pissed off. But I'm like, we made the deal, right? I used to come home and, you know, after a while, I smell like smoke every night, and he gets all...”

“Suspicious.”

“Exactly. But it's so good for my relationship now. We totally get along.”

“Because you can fool around but not smell like smoke.”

“Totally. He never thinks about it.”

“That's very positive.”

She took a sip of her drink. “Hey—are you on Friendster?”

“No. What's that?”

She explained, and I answered that I didn't really use the Internet except for keeping up with the colon community.

“You should get on it,” she said. “I'll give you my URL too, so you can check out the shop if you want.”

“I'd like that,” I said. She handed me a pink card with scalloped edges. “We have a mailing list, maybe if you give me your Vogue email,” she said.

“Oh, I have the hotmail thing, but I don't really check it,” I said. I looked down at the card. “But I'll tell people about your shop.”

“That would be fantastic! We'd love to meet some people, you know.” Having accomplished an objective, and seeing nothing else worth telling me, she looked around wildly, trying to find a clock, but there was none in the bar. “I should probably, uh...” she said.

“Definitely,” I said, and we exchanged brief farewells and nodded so we would not have to touch one another.

Seeing me seated alone, my friend came over. “Hey,” he said. “It's good to see you. She's cool, right? We used to go out.” He put a hand on my back and leaned in conspiratorially. “Do you mind if I cut out of here early?” He motioned his head back to the woman he'd been chatting up, by the door. She was looking at us impatiently. “Conner just got back from Tibet, I haven't seen her in almost a year.”

“Sure,” I said, mentally removing him from my list of friends. He took me over to meet Conner, a slightly thinner version of the first woman I'd met, just as I am a thicker, duller-looking, less engaged version of my (now former) friend. She'd been to both Tibet and Yale, I learned within 18 seconds.

Everyone in the bar looked a little bit like someone else. Maybe we were all imitations of masculine and feminine forms, variations on a theme, or perhaps there was not theme, just a network of comparisons. I thought about this, walking out past the pile of humans, and then suddenly I wanted to punch something, or someone, but instead, as I waited for the train I flicked the pink business card onto the tracks, where it was swallowed by a green-brown puddle.


[Top]

Ftrain.com

PEEK

Ftrain.com is the website of Paul Ford and his pseudonyms. It is showing its age. I'm rewriting the code but it's taking some time.

FACEBOOK

There is a Facebook group.

TWITTER

You will regret following me on Twitter here.

EMAIL

Enter your email address:

A TinyLetter Email Newsletter

About the author: I've been running this website from 1997. For a living I write stories and essays, program computers, edit things, and help people launch online publications. (LinkedIn). I wrote a novel. I was an editor at Harper's Magazine for five years; then I was a Contributing Editor; now I am a free agent. I was also on NPR's All Things Considered for a while. I still write for The Morning News, and some other places.

If you have any questions for me, I am very accessible by email. You can email me at ford@ftrain.com and ask me things and I will try to answer. Especially if you want to clarify something or write something critical. I am glad to clarify things so that you can disagree more effectively.

POKE


Syndicate: RSS1.0, RSS2.0
Links: RSS1.0, RSS2.0

Contact

© 1974-2011 Paul Ford

Recent

Recent Offsite Work: Code and Prose. As a hobby I write. (January 14)

Rotary Dial. (August 21)

10 Timeframes. (June 20)

Facebook and Instagram: When Your Favorite App Sells Out. (April 10)

Why I Am Leaving the People of the Red Valley. (April 7)

Welcome to the Company. (September 21)

“Facebook and the Epiphanator: An End to Endings?”. Forgot to tell you about this. (July 20)

“The Age of Mechanical Reproduction”. An essay for TheMorningNews.org. (July 11)

Woods+. People call me a lot and say: What is this new thing? You're a nerd. Explain it immediately. (July 10)

Reading Tonight. Reading! (May 25)

Recorded Entertainment #2, by Paul Ford. (May 18)

Recorded Entertainment #1, by Paul Ford. (May 17)

Nanolaw with Daughter. Why privacy mattered. (May 16)

0h30m w/Photoshop, by Paul Ford. It's immediately clear to me now that I'm writing again that I need to come up with some new forms in order to have fun here—so that I can get a rhythm and know what I'm doing. One thing that works for me are time limits; pencils up, pencils down. So: Fridays, write for 30 minutes; edit for 20 minutes max; and go whip up some images if necessary, like the big crappy hand below that's all meaningful and evocative because it's retro and zoomed-in. Post it, and leave it alone. Can I do that every Friday? Yes! Will I? Maybe! But I crave that simple continuity. For today, for absolutely no reason other than that it came unbidden into my brain, the subject will be Photoshop. (Do we have a process? We have a process. It is 11:39 and...) (May 13)

That Shaggy Feeling. Soon, orphans. (May 12)

Antilunchism, by Paul Ford. Snack trams. (May 11)

Tickler File Forever, by Paul Ford. I'll have no one to blame but future me. (May 10)

Time's Inverted Index, by Paul Ford. (1) When robots write history we can get in trouble with our past selves. (2) Search-generated, "false" chrestomathies and the historical fallacy. (May 9)

Bantha Tracks. (May 5)

The Moral Superiority of the Streetcar. (1) Long-form journalism fixes everything. (2) The moral superiority of the streetcar. (3) I like big bus and I cannot lie. (May 4)

More...
Tables of Contents