The bar was cool inside. It also seemed particularly dark to the woman as she walked in out of the strong afternoon sun, still wearing her shades. However, when she took them off, she saw it wasn’t quite dark enough inside to hide the dinginess of the place, and neither was there enough people there to create an atmosphere that would cover up the wear and tear with affection.
There were four or five men seated at the bar, idly watching the racing on TV as they slouched over their beers. They were spaced out unevenly along the length of the L-shaped bar, but there was a sizable gap at the corner, so the woman headed for there. That way, she could avoid looking as if she had chosen to sit beside any man in particular. She learned from past mistakes. She also did not want to sit at a table alone; it was too easy to get cornered doing that as well.
The barman had seen her walk in and take a seat. “What can I get for you?”, he asked in a friendly tone as he mentally gave her a score on the attractiveness scale. She wouldn’t stop traffic, but was young enough to merit a degree of solicitiousness. She was female and alone, which was often more than enough.
The men at the bar also assessed her, but they all waited to hear what she would order. That would give them a better idea of where to place her.
“White wine, please,” she said.
That didn’t really encourage the men much. If she’d ordered a cheap beer, or some hard liquor, they would have known she was easy, and therefore approachable. But with wine… lots of women drink wine. But how many of them walk into a bar on their own in the early afternoon?
“Hot day today,” the barman said, as he placed a glass in front of her and began to pour out the wine. He didn’t look directly at her, but concentrated instead on not being too genorous with his measure.
“Yes, I got so hot and thirsty walking around I decided to get in out of the sun for a cool drink. I saw this place just after I had made up my mind.”
Well done, she thought. That’s a perfectly reasonable explanation. Who wouldn’t want a cool drink on a cold day? And now you can leave afterwards if you have to.
Most of the hope died away in the men at the bar, leaving only the normal levels of expectation, created by the porn industry, that any given situation will lead to sex.
Except in one man. He had been playing darts in the corner of the bar, but had stopped immediately when the woman walked in. He now downed the remainder of his pint, which he had so far been nursing for half an hour, and decided it was time for a refill.
The woman felt his presence beside her before she saw him place his empty glass on the bar and say, “Another one of those, Basil.” She kept her eyes on the bar top in front of her as she took a sip, vainly hoping the inevitable would not happen.
It did, of course.
“You new to town?”
The innocuous first question, which men think will put women at their ease but every woman knows where it is leading. The only option is to give a polite answer in a manner that is sufficiently stand-offish to discourage them but so much so as to make it obvious they are being rejected, in front of everybody else, which would only lead to a whole other problematic set of circumstances. So she gave it her best shot.
“Sort of,” she said, and took another sip from her glass.
It didn’t work. The man sat down on the stool beside her.
“Thought I hadn’t seen you before. Just passing through?”
“I’m not sure how long I will be here.”
“Well,” he said, as he rose to his full height on the stool and expanded his chest. “This is a nice spot, nice and relaxed.”
She gave a thin smile and analysed how many more sips it would take to finish her wine. The barman put the man’s beer in front of him and threw him a warning glance with it. But the man either chose to ignore it or was too busy eyeing up the woman to notice.
“I’ve lived here all my life,” he said instead. “So I’d be more than happy to show you around sometime.”
The big man swooping in to rescue the helpless woman. He would show her the town and she would be so grateful she would show him what she looked like naked.
“The town’s not that big,” she replied, a forced smile on her face, still avoiding looking him directly in the eyes. “I’m sure I’ll manage.”
“Yeah, but I can show you where all the nice spots are. Why don’t you let me buy you another drink, and I can tell you where’s good to eat?”
She looked at her glass and swirled the remainding liquid around. She could probably finish it in one swallow, but it would look rushed. Instead she took a large drink that used up most of the liquid.
“No, thanks,” she said. “I have more to do this afternoon.”
“It can wait until after one more drink at least?”
She put her hand on her handbag, lying on the bartop, and stood up from her stool, on the side away from the man. There was still some wine left in the glass, so she picked it up and drained it off.
“I have too much to do today, I’m afraid. It was nice to meet you but I must be going now.”
She nodded her thanks to the barman and walked out of the bar into the sunshine that seemed even harsher and hotter now.
“Well, that was a stupid idea,” she thought to herself, listening to make sure the man wasn’t following her.
Back inside the bar, the man was being teased. “You didn’t get very far there, Johnny.”
“Ahh, she’s only an alco dyke. What other sort of woman drinks alone in a bar at this time of the day?”