I approach the bar. There is a woman there. I may have met her before. She looks at me.
"Hello," I say.
"Hello," she says.
What comes next? I always forget what comes after "Hello." My mind has gone blank and now it's thinking of raw carrots. Why am I thinking of raw carrots when I need to be saying something? And what is that something?
It's not "How are you?" -- which is a telephone question to my parents. When used in person, "How are you?" implies that a traumatic event has taken place. I could say, "How are you today?" but that strikes me as a question a nurse might ask. God knows why a nurse would ask it, unless she took pleasure from negative answers.
The woman at the bar stares at me, a bit bleary-eyed, but not in a drunk way. A strand of black hair falls across her face, and she does not push it away. Perhaps she's heavily medicated. That buys me some time. There are no awkward silences in prescription-induced haze (to be more accurate, the whole haze is one awkward silence in the scope of a life, so momentary ones have no meaning).
Damn! What comes next? It's not "How's it going?" or "What's up?" -- which are only male-to-male phrases, the former referring to amount of sex and the latter referring to the penis. No, neither of those will work.
She pushes the hair off of her face and turns slightly toward the bar.
Goddamn, I must know what comes next! I must have said it before. I'm not a hermit. I interact with people.
Oh! It might be, "Nice day today," but it's cloudy, neither hot nor cold.
Oh! It might be, "Have we met, or..." but a man ought to be decisive and ellipsis-free.
Oh! It might be, "Give me an example of a panagram." But what if she said, "Stoned purple boxes float high above any queer junk-man's yellow-coated maze." What would be next then?
Where is the bartender? I am a total social failure.
The woman turns back toward me. "What comes next?" she asks.
"I don't know," I say.
Labels: things not to share