Friday, April 19, 2024

Can't Go Out on a Friday Night

Oh, fuck. . . I'm paying for my sins this morning.  I wasn't even going to go out at one point.  I was feeling "down."  I was feeling bad enough that I called my mother and told her I wouldn't be over that afternoon, that if I was going out that night, I was going to have to take a nap.  I lay down at two and opened my eyes, reluctantly, at four-thirty.  I didn't want to get up, but I was already getting texts from people who were at the bar.  I still needed to shower.  

I rolled into the refurbished hipster bowling alley at quarter to six.  Everyone was ahead of me.  I got what they were having, a Paloma--tequila, grapefruit juice, and lime with some spicy stuff on it.  Our waitress was a Jersey girl.  We were boys but for one.  She handled it well.  When I looked at her and started stuttering my order, the catbirds came out.  Shitbirds, I should say.  

"Glass eye. . . palsy. . . c'mon old timer. . . spit it out."

She just looked at me and smiled patiently.  I shook my head.

"Hear that?  These guys say, don't worry, we've got your back.  Then when a girl shows up, this is what I get."

Her eyes were dancing.  She was laughing.  

She brought the finger foods that were ordered before I got there.  I ordered a pressed corned beef sandwich.  Then champagne.  Then another Paloma.  Then a Cuba Libra.  Then another.  I had a bottle of scotch in the car.  

Stupid.  Just stupid.  

It was loud.  Everyone was shouting.  The bowling lanes were psychedelic with lights flashing like an electric circus.  Girls in short skirts were turning heads as they ran bent over down the lanes.  Giant t.v. screens in the room where we sat broadcast sporting events.  I was mesmerized by the professional wrestling.  The entire table stopped when a commercial for a professional pubic hair trimmer came on, a woman with a flat belly in tiny underwear shaving her pubes.  

"Where does the leg end and the vagina begin," asked the car guy.  

"C. got a Brazilian wax.  Ask him."

"I wouldn't recommend it," he said.  

"You don't know where the leg ends and the vagina begins?  Really?"

"I'm just. . . you know. . . in a commercial."

Brilliant things like that.  

A masked man came flying off the top ring rope.  He must have weighed three hundred pounds.  He took down two waiting fellows with his outstretched arms.  

"Look at that!" I screamed to Tennessee and the car guy, both trained fighters.  "You sissies couldn't brawl like that."

Tennessee had his phone out.  He was showing some of my photos to the film professor's wife, a Malaysian from Singapore.  Talk turned to my camera work.  Things were getting hazy.  I got up to walk around.  Tennessee and the biology prof and the film prof's wife had me take a phone pic.  I cooked it up the way I do before I sent it to them.  The film guy came over.  He wants me to make some pictures of him for his website.  I told him I would some day.  We stepped outside so I could photograph him in front of the bowling sign with my phone, but the lighting was really bad.  

"Wait," I said.  "Let me get a camera out of my car."  I grabbed my digital Canon with the plastic toy Holga lens.  I made a few snaps of him.  He said I should bring it into the bar. 

Suddenly I was popular.  Everybody wanted me to make pictures of them.  The lighting was from small 30 watt bulbs.  I mean, it was bar dark inside.  I tried to hand hold some, but the exposures were five seconds and between my shaking and their moving. . . . Still, they ooed and ahhhed.  

There were water bottles on the table.  I tried using one as a tripod.  That worked better, but the fucking drunks couldn't hold still for five seconds at a time.  They were all ADD.  They wanted me to keep trying, though.  I was having fun.  

Once in awhile, an image would emerge from the shadows.  Now they were all directors and creatives.  They all had ideas.  I was now, according to them, reduced to cinematographer.  

When the waitress came back, though, I looked at her and nodded.  

"Stand over here," I said holding up the camera.  I didn't know how she would respond.  I handheld the first one.

It was a smear, but she clearly liked it.  

The boys were all looking on with eagerness now.  They wanted in.

"He'll send you the photo," they offered.  "He's not really a creep.  He's a good photographer.  He's really good."

"Fuck you guys.  Don't listen to them.  Suddenly they've got my back, right?"

She was smiling.  Much to my surprise, though, she slid into the booth so I could sit the camera on top of the bottle.  That is the photo at the top.  Turned out pretty good, but I had to crop Tennessee out of the picture.  Oh, yea. . . the boys were like a pack of jackals in heat.  

I showed her the images on the camera screen.  She wanted to know if she could use her phone to take a picture of them.  

"Sure.  After I get them off the phone, I'll get you copies."  

Now this is the part where my shy, paranoid personality comes into play.  I have no desire to be creepy, to ask her for her phone number, so I say, "Next time I come in, I'll put them on my phone.  Do you have an Apple phone?  That was I can just Air Drop them to you."

"You can send them to me," she smiled.  I handed her my phone.  "Just type in wherever you want me to send them."  She could use a work email or her boyfriend's number or whatever made her feel good.  

She typed in her phone number and name.  

"O.K.  I'l get those to you," I said.  

When she went back to work, Tennessee might as well have been on Adderall.  Beauty boy was beside himself.  

"It's O.K., slick.  I know what I'm doing," I said.  "This ain't my first rodeo, son." 

Being a bowling alley, all the servers were wearing bowling shirts.  There was a gift shop, so I announced, "I'm going to buy a bowling shirt."  I left my camera with the boys who were all wanting to be photographers now.  I went to find the waitress to pay for my part of the tab.  

"It's already been taken care of," she said.  "That guy in the green shirt paid for everyone."

The guy in the green shirt was a friend of the car guy and his buddy.  I'd been out drinking with the three of them before, but he didn't know the rest of the crowd.  The car guy who usually picks up the tab said, "It's o.k.  He's a lawyer."

He had, however, left his credit card.  

"Can we use this for the rest of the night?" I asked our waitress.  

When I went to the gift shop, it turned out they only sold t-shirts.  

"What?  I want to get a bowling shirt."

"I can only get you one if you want to work.  I can hire you."

The girl was all smiles.  This was a very friendly place.  

In a bit, our crowd got up and wandered toward the parking lot.  Slow goodbyes were being said.  The film guy's wife came over to hug me and whispered, "I want you to photograph me."  

"You've seen my photos?" I asked to be clear.  

"Yes.  I don't want to wait until I am fifty."

She told me she has been losing weight.  She was serious.   "O.K." I said, "we'll make some pictures."

If I had a studio.  

Then there were just three of us standing outside kibitzing, me, Tennessee, and the car guy.  There was a recap of the night, and of course, they talked about the waitress.  She had been well compensated for serving us.  The other servers would envy her wildly. 

As is inevitable, there was the lingering of drunks in the parking lot at the end of the night, but eventually the conversation wained and reluctant goodbyes were said.  

I was tired when I got home, but I had to dump the photos into the computer to see.  It was after midnight now as I sipped on a glass of scotch.  I perused the pictures and cooked up the ones of G., the waitress.  I got my phone and looked up her number, then sent them to her with a message.  I thanked her for being a good sport and putting up with the group.  I told her that the camera loved her, that she was very photogenic, and that I would photograph her any time she wanted.  She wrote back. 

"you guys were a great time and you’ve definitely got some talent. love the black and white. i’ll definitely let you know i’d love to do more shoots !"

 I'm glad the film prof talked me into bringing my camera inside.  Everybody wants me to make photos.  I should get back on the horse.  I let someone destroy my confidence.  It was wrong.  I like looking at people.  I'm good at it.  And as always, everybody has fun.  I should get out and about more, too.  But not tonight.  It is Friday.  I need my rest.  

"Can't go out on a Friday night.  I got the A.A. blues."

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