Last night I went to a local pub to see a couple fellow musicians perform, Allison and Gaylen, otherwise known as “The Sail Bums.” An adorable husband/wife duo who spend their days living on a boat, and their evenings performing music. Seemingly, the ideal life of every musician and couple. I have to admit, it suits them. Watching Allison gaze lovingly at Gaylen during their performance was heart-warming and disgusting all at once. Perhaps I’m bitter. Or envious.
When I arrived, I was waved over to a table full of others who had also come to support the musical couple. We were an interesting and diverse group; a variety of people all there for the same reason.
Brad, an advisor with the University and talented and well-known bass player. Sue, a successful marketing professional. Drew, the pastor at a local progressive church. A young foreign man whose name escapes me, who looked like a cross between Dave Grohl and Fabio (or maybe I just imagined that he did). And me, an unemployed singer and “veteran” bartender.
A veritable smorgasbord of people with not much in common other than most of us were “middle age” (save for Fabio), and all friends and followers of the two performers.
And we were all single.
I enjoyed a fabulous pineapple cider and skillet of buffalo mac-n-cheese while listening to the music and the musings at the table. Drew and Sue got acquainted while Brad and I stuffed our faces and talked about the latest season of “Titans” on HBO Max. He occasionally sat in with the duo, adding the melodic sounds of his upright bass to the mix. As I find with many musicians, watching him play is as enjoyable as listening. Passionate musical facial expressions, I call them (well, except for when I sing, then it just looks like I’m in pain). When Fabio joined the table mid-way through the evening, concentrating on my meal, the music, or the conversations became a bit more challenging.
I continued to take it all in, though, and listened to familiar tales of singledom woes... Tales of “casual friends,” tales of failed first (or second, or third) dates and failed relationships, tales of loneliness tinged with a bit of humor and cynicism (ok, the cynicism was usually my contribution). There were exchanges of courting quips, dating advice, and horror stories. And a lot of laughter.
The husband/wife duo joined us after the gig was done, and the fans at the table began to depart one by one. Drew was the first to leave. Allison beamed at Sue and mentioned that the two of them seemed to have made a connection. I chuckled into my cider as I saw both women glowing with the prospect. I imagined them with animated Warner Bros heart eyes bulging from their faces; Pepe Le Pew, Bugs Bunny, Tom n Gerry style... Sue admitted that they had exchanged contact information, and had considered getting together again. But it wouldn’t be a date, she insisted.
“There’s nothing wrong with dinner with friends,” Allison giggled. And everyone winked at each other. I joined the winking, wondering what we were all winking about.
After Sue left, Allison glowed once more at the idea that she had accidentally played matchmaker. That the couple seemed well-suited for one another. Fabio, sitting next to her, said (in that exquisite accent)- “Hey, next it’s my turn.”
A wicked grin crossed Allison’s face as she looked from Fabio to me, and back and forth, again and again, with no subtlety whatsoever. We all laughed (as I squirmed uncomfortably), and I reminded them of my age. We all laughed some more. I still can’t imagine why on earth that young man is single. Dear Lord, if only I were (at least) ten years younger…
As the evening wound down, Brad extended an invite to come over and start binging “Titans.” But it was late, his house was a bit of a drive from mine, and I was tired. Those things were all true, but so is my difficulty of developing/maintaining friendships with men. It never used to be the case; I’ve had more male friends over the years than females. Women tend to irritate me. Well, unless they’re beautiful and interesting and captivating; girl crushes. But as far as friendships, men have always been my choice of company. As I’ve aged and lived single longer, the lines of friendship have become blurry and hard for me to define. Instances like that have often led to misreading situations and embarrassing myself, or ruining a good friendship by crossing said lines. I’m not sure why any of that is, and I don’t put much thought into trying to figure it out.
And so I walked to my car, drove to the bar down the street, and had a nightcap before going home. Half of an overpriced cider later and a slight headache (from the cider? The annoying 20-something crowd? All of it?) and I tabbed out and went home. To the comfort of my couch, a bag of cookies, and the dog and the cat.
As enjoyable as the evening was, the laughter, the great music, the camaraderie… it was still the same conclusion to every other night out. Go home alone. Laugh a little, cry a little. Laugh at yourself for crying. Eat your weight in junk food, watch The Big Bang Theory just to try to keep laughing. Wake up on the couch at 5 am, the tv and all the lights still on, an empty bag of cookies in your hand, and the cat enjoying the buffet of crumbs on your lap. You sigh, too tired (defeated?) to drag yourself to bed. You roll over, cover your head with your fuzzy blanket, and go back to dreaming. Except this night's dreams were of blurred lines, animated heart eyes, handsome foreigners, buffalo mac n cheese, and sailing the ocean with the musical love of your life.