Sunday, December 5, 2010

Ale

The music emanating from the live jazz band in the corner of the room blasts into my eardrums as I sit alone at the bar, staring but not staring at the golden brown fluid in my glass. It stares back at me, unmoved by my longing but hesitant gaze. It has the legs of a beautiful woman. Foam from the perimeter of the surface of the liquid creeps down the smooth surface, marking where the liquid had once been. A smattering of bubbles sits transfixed on the now still surface of the beverage: remnants of the most previous disturbance of the system's vertical axis. I reach for the glass, but stop briefly before tensing my fingers around the perfect material. I can feel the container's temperature radiating from it. Or, rather, I can feel my temperature radiating out. I remain still and think about what I am doing for a moment, aware of the odd curiosity from the eyes fixated on me. I wonder myself, before finally giving into the desire that my body has convinced me that I have towards the liquid and taking a strong sip from the glass.

It is delicious.

I doubt my doubts and lengthen the duration of my "sip." My lips slide slowly off of the glass, and I hold the beer in my mouth for a moment, allowing the warmth from my face to emanate into the cold air within the vessel. At length, I swallow and the familiar aroma overtakes my olfaction: the burned outer skin of a marshmallow neglected over a fireplace. The taste inspires in me an emotion close to contentment. I set the glass on the bar in front of me. The jazz band has gone on intermission and contemporary lounge jazz shouts out of the speakers overhead during their absence. A new patron - one of many since I sat down - enters through the front door. The chilled December air wafts in through the portal and passes over my body in waves, hindered partially by the wool trench hung from my shoulders. I survey my surroundings briefly, only to discover that I am easily the youngest person in the crowded room; not by a significant margin, but still clearly the youngest.

I am stricken by a sudden sense of non-belonging.

I appraise my beer: only a few drinks left. I finish it in two.

The jazz band begins to play its second set.

I place my empty glass on the back edge of the bar and move to exit the establishment.

The cold air wraps around my neck as I walk through the door, buttoning my coat and wondering what it was that I was really expecting from the evening.

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