Friday, September 30, 2011

Unread Messages

Last night I went to meet my friend Hiro at a bar and I got there a little bit before him, so I found myself just sitting alone, waiting. This was weird for a few reasons. Firstly, I’m almost never in bars at night anymore. I like to be in bed by ten and since my kids fall asleep between 8 and 830 and I usually have to wait until they’re asleep to eat dinner, and since I can’t very well just go out once they fall asleep because that shit’s irresponsible/illegal, I cook and eat at home and that’s pretty much all the time I have. There’s just no time for going to bars at night. Sometimes if I’m out for the day, away from my kids and working on stuff I’ll go get a beer in the afternoon just to kind of change up the atmosphere, but for the most part being in a bar in the day is totally different than being in a bar at night.

In the day, people are either old and wasted or they’re just having one or two beers. Restraint is exercised, strangers may casually bullshit, but usually in the day the bar is fairly empty and the regulars and the bartenders sit there and watch television and loudly banter about whatever the fuck is going on. At night, people are trying to get drunk, people are trying to get laid and people are generally suited up, both mentally and physically to get out there and be seen. I haven’t done this in a while (notable exceptions are when my friends play shows and I can get out to see them), and last night I realized that I now completely suck at being at a bar.

Firstly, I no longer want to or am able to just bullshit with strangers. That used to be my thing. I used to go to bars and just strike up conversations with crazy old men/pretty girls/scott ian from anthrax/whoever. Now I don’t. The reasons are several. Firstly, I’m an old, married guy with two kids. That means that I automatically kind of don’t know what’s going on with the scene and as a result I kind of feel like I’ve got very little in the way of cultural currency with which to barter in a conversation with a random person. I’m also not gonna strike up conversations with random pretty girls because, well, come on. I ALSO just am not really ever in the nighttime-barroom situation, so I’m out of practice at being social, though interestingly, I don’t care about that anymore. I don’t want to talk to anyone. I can remember being young and seeing guys like me just sitting there alone and silent until their friends came by and thinking “wow, that guy has a lot of confidence. I’m out here just trying to talk to everyone because I’m desperately insecure and want the validation of A) getting a good story out of the night and B) making strangers interested in me/like me but that dude over there doesn’t give a FUCK. That’s pretty cool.

But now I’m old and I realize that it’s just a different kind of insecurity. No one I’d be interested in talking to is gonna be interested in what I have to say because frankly, I don’t have shit to say anymore. I found myself gripped with minor-league stagefright when a woman across the bar started talking to me (she was just asking the bartender’s name, by the way). I don’t want to talk to strangers in that setting anymore because I don’t have shit to talk about and it makes me feel awkward and I hate feeling awkward so I just kind of retreat…and this is where I realized that bar culture is being irreparably damaged by technology.

What do we do when we have nothing to do? We retreat to our phones. As I looked around this bar at night, a zone that used to be where I felt more at home and “among the people” than anywhere else on earth, I was struck by the fact that EVERY SINGLE PERSON that was there alone was dicking around on their smartphones, myself included. That’s pretty fucking lame. I think the guy that goes to the bar to read is lame. The theory behind that is that if you really want to read, a dim bar with drunk people all around is hardly a good place to do it. Reading at the bar has much more to do with having a really bad idea of how to market yourself. If you’re reading at a bar, you may think you’re putting out there that you’re a sophisticated guy who also knows how to have a good time, and right now, you’re engrossed in your tome, but what you’re ACTUALLY putting out there is “I’m a dildo with no friends and this is, believe it or not, the best idea I could come up with.” (It bears mentioning that reading at a bar in the daytime is absolutely fine. That’s a totally different move. At night, however, it’s radioactive dildonium.)

The phone though, is completely different. It’s not a ‘move’ or an affectation anymore. I think it used to be. I think that when people first got cellphones it was cool to be on it all the time and seem important, but now they’re so ubiquitous that there’s no way that anyone at the bar or perhaps on the earth, is gonna think I’m important just because I’ve got my face buried in an iPhone at eleven thirty Thursday night. It’s almost involuntary. It’s a compulsion. It just looks like an awkward crutch that I can’t give up. It’s like smoking if smoking made you look less cool instead of more cool. At least smoking is dangerous in an exciting way. Dicking around on your phone is dangerous because it hurts your eyes and you’ll probably crash your car or walk into the street while you’re doing it (and it probably gives you cancer too, but it doesn’t have the same reckless cache of cigarettes).

Anyway, yeah. Bars are being ruined by smart phones. And so is conversation, eye contact and general humanness in public spaces. On the upside, it’s way easier to take a picture of your cock and send it to people than it used to be.

Have a good weekend, yall.


Diggler said...

So true. I look around the bar and see half the people there having a good time and the other half with their faces illuminated by the light of their iPhone. Sad.

Blake said...

Funny and true as usual. Maybe someday you can expand on this thought to include how texting and e-mail effect language and communication. Deterioration or simplification? Helpful or worrisome? I need answers, Beex!

Boyar Duma said...

"Dildonium" What is this amazing word, and why has there not been a blog about it? This word is up there with "DLP" Daddy's little piggy

FranklinStein said...

This is why I still own a flip phone that has no internet or fancy apps. It's also why when I was in college, I didn't walk around campus with an iPod. It seems to cripple our social skills and I don't need to do that any further.

Uh, and it's weird to hear you say that you feel you don't have "shit to talk about". What the fuck is this blog about?!?!? You've said before that your entries come effortlessly. I figure this also applies for face to face conversation, more or less.

Also, yeah, fuck the people that go to a bar and read. I made the mistake of hitting on such a person and found myself in front of the most pretentious dildo I've ever encountered. I tortured myself for an hour by staying, hoping she'd give me he phone number. She gave me her gmail address, which I promptly tossed in the urinal and showered with beer piss.

Robb said...

\Nah, daytime bar reading isn't ok either

Keri said...

Having just had a baby in july and thereby spending most of my free time with him, I find myself in the same predicament when I go out, even with my own friends. Because this baby occupies my life, he's really all there is for me to talk about and my single baby-less friends can't relate to that, nor do I want to come off as that guy that only ever talks about their baby. I've got a sweet job, but for how long can you talk about working in liver transplant before you come off as pretentious and big-headed? Brendan, I hope if I see you out we can strike up a conversation on a topic that is familiar to us--the consistency and frequency of infant bms.

Navi said...

The way you feel at the bar, is how I've felt at the bar since I was 18. You're supposed to feel comfortable talking to strangers and making conversation? Sit there quietly and stare off somewhere where no one can give you shit for staring.

seeseehpounder said...

Hawaiians are like Legionnaire’s Disease. They are commonly found in hot tubs and it’s best to eradicate early.

BEEXtrix Potter said...

Incidentally those two things also share the similarity of being the two most irritating things on earth. Besides CCH Pounder I mean. I mean, yall googled legionnaires disease? Ya cant help but picture a slightly portly Sean Bean lounging in a whirlpool with his hands propped up on the rim, relaying some asinine tall tale of sexual conquest. Infuriating.
Well played, mysterious newcomer faggot.

BEEXtrix Potter said...

I feel like 'nazty venus fly trap' would be a funny way for a black man to disparagingly refer to a pussy he happens to find unappealing. Who's with me??
You either wiiith me, or you agaainst me/you either wiiith me, or you agaaainst me

'Why is grandma such a faggot?' - great childrens book name

Anne said...

You're right. I don't own a mobile, never have and never will. Nobody needs to reach me when I'm taking a crap, driving a car or doing anything else that I enjoy doing. As for the bar experience, I don't think it was ever what we really thought it was when we were younger. Pubs are a better way to go. Stopping at your local is the same every day and it just gets bettter as you age. I so enjoy reading this blog. Thank you.