I did go to a party the other night, to celebrate the birthday of one of the waitresses at the Café. The party was held at another neighbourhood bar, and was teeming with people I haven’t seen in a while.
When I arrived, I took a seat at the bar and ordered a cocktail, which is not what I usually drink. I usually drink beer, but I wasn’t planning on staying long. I don't linger much these days. Moments later, I was approached by one of the Café’s bartenders, who smiled broadly and kissed both my cheeks.
“Vila, we don’t see you anymore…” he lamented in charmingly accented English, as he let his hand rest gently on the small of my back. I sighed and lifted an invisible cigarette into the air, confessing, “I don’t go out like I used to.” I refrained from confessing that I found him unspeakably attractive.
His hand remained where it was, but his smile faded. “It’s really hit us hard, the smoking ban. It’s hit everybody hard.” I nodded and touched his arm sympathetically. Yes, sympathetically. Then, I thought of all the times I walked past the Café this summer and saw that it was empty, even on Friday and Saturday nights. It occurred to me that I missed him.
Of course I do. I miss everyone at the Café.
Before I left the party, I had the presence of mind to ask the bartender what nights he works, and promised to come see him soon. When I do, I will sit at the bar and order a cocktail. If he flirts with me, I’ll go outside for a smoke, and then order a second. But only if he flirts with me.