I was bored. So bored. The sole television in my house was dominated by the season finale of “The Bachelorette", one of the most insufferable shows to exist in modern times. So, out I went.
A Rolling Stones cover blasts through an old jukebox. Its sound is uninviting and loud, though the divorcees around me seem to enjoy it. Dive bar on a Saturday night. Tiki idols occupy the corners, overseers of the ‘Tropical Paradise.’, ensuring you get ‘laid’. And if not, ‘Mahalo brother there’s always tomorrow.’
My ass sticks to the cheap leather stool, the hide taken from a Fisher-price plastic horse. I sit in the corner of the bar. An anthropologist studying the cultural presence, or more casually known as ‘people watching.’ An aggressive yell interrupts, the slam of a plastic toy gun hitting the arcade machine. Gentleman in the camo hat didn’t beat his friend’s high score, A finger dive into his can of dip, his loss is forgotten by the sweet, smoky presence of tar on his lips.
The descriptor “dive bar" was entirely too generous. Had I not been well-versed in generally shady watering holes, I would've gotten the fuck out of there. But there didn’t seem to be much else in the area and I wanted to get out and get a drink. There were stools near the door and at the bar sat four men who should have been cut off hours ago. The bartender was a Korean woman who bore a vague resemblance to Sandra Oh and when I ordered a double vodka tonic, she poured me two neat shots. It became obvious she didn’t speak English.
The middle-aged man next to me came dangerously close to falling off his stool. He’d been drinking some sort of brown liquor on the rocks since I’d arrived and I assumed he’d been drinking it all night. I wasn’t feeling much pain by this point, either. Vodka will do that to you, especially if you started an hour ago.
I walked outside onto the quiet street and practically ran headfirst into a Mexican man who spoke very little English. He was trying to get to the Indian casino but didn’t know what bus route to take, and finding a cab in Tucson at midnight was like trying to find a unicorn. I made a futile attempt at communicating with my limited Spanish range. And suddenly, he became ten times more attractive to me. I wanted to know more about him.
We found another place. It had karaoke - really awful karaoke - and Thai and Filipino food. As we walked into the mildly crowded bar, a short and portly Filipino man greeted me with a hug. I had never set foot in this bar until this night.
"You’re a regular here?" I tried to explain to my new friend that I’d never been here, but he refused to believe me. Maybe I’m just huggable, I told him. We found seats at the bar, which had a tropical thatched cover over it. I couldn’t tell what Asian nation this bar was meant to represent; it was apparently Thai, but the karaoke was clearly from Japan and the decor was definitively South Pacific. The karaoke was terrible. Not just the singing, but the awkward stock visuals on the screen, behind the lyrics. The entire atmosphere felt like a bad movie.
More drinks came. Our conversation evolved from casual conversation to words with innuendo and flirtatiously charged energy. We faced each other on bar stools, slowly edging our faces toward each other. And, in the middle of this obviously straight joint, we kissed each other; organically, without premonition, in the middle of a sentence. No one cared. Or didn't overly react to it. He was 35 but his face and demeanor was young. But he still dressed in usual Tucsonian garb: t-shirt and jeans.
The kiss worked. So did the flirtation. He had me laughing all night, despite almost getting shanked by a drunken dive bar denizen. After that it didn’t take us long to get back to my apartment, which, fortunately, was less than a mile away. As we walked we stopped every ten feet to make out. It was clear he was staying over.
The term ‘rooster’ finally clicks, his proud strides and pursed lips, carefully phrased statements, sneaking peeks to sexual innuendos. I almost growl back. But then again I’m not a lion. Blame my father for my unusual amount of testosterone. A blessing and a curse. He had me at full sprint and only an oncoming bus could stop me
We quietly stumbled into the house and headed straight for my spartan room, with only a bed without a frame and an open suitcase. We started making out and he made an effort to hang up his work clothes in my closet before jumping into bed with me. I fished a condom out of my nightstand and suddenly, he was fucking me, eyes closed and rapidly, without a hint of foreplay. Once he came - before I even had a chance to - he rolled over and passed out. I looked over at him, hoping for at least a few minutes of cuddle time. It wasn’t going to happen. The date ends innocently, as if two childhood sweethearts or two Amish farmers. Or two lepers.An hour before dawn, we’re saying goodbye. No physical contact, except a hug and a goodnight. A considerable failure by my standards. But this night, maybe because of the planets’ manipulative alignment, I felt happy. Tonight was good. Two old souls sharing a laugh across the chasm of passing time.