You don’t have to go home, but you can’t stay here

25 minutes until closing-

The three women sat at the bar. Who knew what they were doing, but one look at the meticulous make-up, high heeled shoes, and tousled hair, and one could guess.

But you learn early on in the bar business that guesses, even educated ones, are still just guesses, and guesses are often wrong. And more importantly, the act of guessing itself is where they most often go wrong.

I wasn’t watching the clock – because there wasn’t one – but I was acutely aware of the time. There is a belief, by some people, that once they get in the door of a restaurant, they can stay for as long as they feel like it, regardless of whether or not they are spending money. These folks believe that the entire staff of the restaurant should just hang around, just in case they might want something. And for many years restaurants allowed them to, which in business parlance is a case of diminishing returns.

To avoid any such confusion, I had already mentioned to the women, that we would be closing in 25 minutes. Sometimes the new normal ain’t all bad.

“Where should we go?” asked the diminutive redhead with the pageboy haircut.

“What are you looking for?” I asked.

“You know, somewhere fun,” replied her taller also red-haired friend.

“Like what kind of fun?” I asked.

“You know,” said the original red, her voice dropping off and her face flushing slightly crimson.

“Well, we are in the middle of a pandemic,” I said. “I’m not even sure what is open.”

“Men,” replied the friend who hadn’t yet spoken. “We are looking for men.”

15 minutes until closing-

“Are you sure you don’t know of anywhere to go?” asked little red.

I mentioned two places that I thought might still be open.

“We were just there,” said tall red.

“Why is no one out?” asked Ms. “men”.

“The pandemic?” I said, phrasing it as a question, but saying it more as a statement.

“Aren’t there any rebels anymore?” asked tall red.

I then mentioned a place that I thought might have some of those rebellious types.

“We don’t want to go there!” they all said in unison.

“So, you personally, don’t know of anywhere to go?” asked little red.

I reached out with my left hand to refill her water glass. It was awkward because I am right handed, but it wasn’t an idle gesture. I wanted her to see my wedding ring.

She saw it. And I saw her see it. She didn’t ask me any more personal questions.

5 minutes until closing-

The man in the stocking cap opened the front door unleashing a blast of cold air into the building, the heat having been turned off, along with the music, five minutes before.

“Can I still get a beer?” he asked.

“Sure,” I said. “But we are closing in five minutes.”

The attention of the women shifted to him. He was left handed, and when he picked up his beer, three sets of eyes followed his hand from bar top to mouth.

“Do you know anywhere that is still open?” asked Ms. “men” of the newcomer.

“What’s wrong with here?” he asked looking around.

“For after here,” said little red.

“I don’t know, I was just going to head home,” he said.

Closing time-

The four of them sat at the bar, finishing their drinks but not their conversation. The only other couple had left barely five minutes before.

“There’s a spot by my house,” said the man.

“Let’s go there!” the three women said in unison.

“I might meet you there,” he said. “When I finish my beer.”

After the women left, I noticed little red’s gloves on the bar.

I picked them up and then looked at the man in the stocking cap.

“Do you want to give these to her?”

He looked at me, at the gloves, and then at his beer.

Picking them up, he put his half a beer down and headed for the door.

“I’ll be back for the rest of that beer,” he said.

Twenty minutes later he had still not returned, and when I left five minutes after that, I noticed that three cars were still in the parking lot.

Leaving me with these thoughts:

-Occasionally guesses are spot on.

-Is it any port in a storm? Or in a pandemic? I can’t remember.

-There is a difference between edgy and crazy. I don’t know what it is but there is a line there somewhere.

-Some things are worth more than half a beer.

-Sex will find a way. It always has, and it always will.