The night I stopped talking

The one man bar band – a man with a guitar who performs solo but has all the high-tech equipment to replicate the sound of a full band – was deep into his version of Purple Rain when we were served our drinks.  At the crowded left-hand side of the bar, closest to where the mosh pit would be if there wasn’t a small cluster of tables reserved to be kept empty to allow the musician to ply his craft or if this wasn’t a song about heartbreak played in an intimate bar setting, a bus party of older tourists bundled awkwardly in the door, looking bemused and borderline terrified.

It was Friday night and the drinks were agreeable.  Switzerland had just won their second game of the World Cup and I considered how the Swiss girl with the blue eyes had felt about that news having missed the match against Serbia on her flight to Amsterdam.  Under the bar lights, where everybody looks alright, I wore a navy suit and a silver tie which resembled the way the liquor bottles shine.  A woman with hair the colour of ginger ale was positioned to my right and she was luxuriously drunk; the kind of inebriation I was aspiring to reach before the end of the night.  She spoke to me, but her slurred speech played against the backing track of Coldplay’s ‘The Scientist’ made the words difficult to translate into coherent English.  I took my default position of politeness and nodded and agreed with whatever she was saying, hopeful that she wasn’t confiding in me her enjoyment of torturing baby iguanas by forcing them to listen to Norwegian death metal or her surprising enterprise of selling home-made crystal meth to schoolchildren.

Much to my surprise this woman, who looked to be at least four inches shorter than I am, continued to attempt to engage me in conversation.  She nestled her head onto my shoulder and inhaled as best as a very drunk person can, like a dachshund sniffing out a sausage, only in this instance it was Joop on my neck.  The woman seemed to become increasingly agitated with my responses, or lack thereof, and after some time she queried:  “garble garble garble opposite species?”

I found this to be an odd phrasing and took it as an invitation to indulge in a fairly lengthy diatribe about aliens.  If they were amongst us how would they feel about the scene before me, I pondered.  She looked me in the eye with a cold stare and I worried that I might have enthused a little too feverishly with the talk of extra terrestrial life.

“Do you have a girlfriend?”  She asked, the first phrase of the night which I fully understood.  I felt confusion as to why she would pose this question at this juncture in our vague interaction and a flash of awkwardness streaked across me like a lightning bolt.

“No,” I responded, wondering if this was a wildly rare occasion where a woman was coming onto me at a bar.

“You could easily get one,” were the words which followed from her mouth, and I felt uplifted and as though this stranger didn’t really know me at all.

“If you would stop talking,” she continued and concluded.

I was still trying to process the appropriate level of insult I should have been taking from this drunken damsel whom I didn’t particularly have much interest in to begin with when she asked me another question.  I thought I was being amusing when I held my thumb and index finger to my mouth and drew them across my lips to mimic the fastening of a zip.  This joke didn’t seem as funny to my intoxicated inquisitor and she furrowed her brow and turned her back to me.

Along the seafront in the Cellar Bar – a bar which is situated below street level – we observed a group of three girls playing pool in the corner and we recognised them as being the same trio who were in Aulay’s the previous night watching Argentina.  Despite being the most hapless of our particular posse in the pursuit of harmonious relations with women it was left to me to insist that we go forth and disgrace ourselves in their company.  My attention was drawn to the girl who had blonde hair and who was dressed in white, primarily because she was a terrible pool player and I felt I could bond with her over our mutual lack of hand-eye coordination.  I asked where she is from and when she told me that she hails from California I realised that I had no follow-up chat.  I scrambled through the recesses of my mind and the only words I could conjure were “nice oranges” and with hindsight the line sounds a little seedy.

The Californian girls didn’t linger for long and shortly we were joined by a close talking chef from Dundee who had moved to Oban that afternoon.  In conversation he positioned himself so close that it would almost be possible to smell what he cooked for dinner.  He seemed eager for company, though after some time he began to view my suit with concern and suspicion.  He noted that I dress like a lawyer and asked at least a couple of times if I was sure that I am not a lawyer.  I felt certain that I’m not and began to wonder if the chef had left Dundee due to some complex legal issue which embedded in him a deep-rooted distrust of anyone who even resembles a connection to the legal profession.  As he stalked around the table with his cue in hand I wondered what possible reason a chef would have to leave Dundee in an effort to escape the law.  Under seasoning of a sauce was the most criminal act I could think of, although assault and battering would probaby attract attention, too.

Close to twenty-four hours later it was 2am and I was sitting on the North Pier for an hour and seven minutes listening to the Rolling Stones album Exile on Main Street.  A cool early morning breeze came caressing from the sea and there was a stillness to everything.  Not a single soul walked by and it was the most alone I have ever felt.  As I looked out to the endless darkness on the coast I considered that maybe I should have stopped talking much sooner than I did.


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