A combination of events on Thursday found me on the phone to Kathy. “Hey, Pete, here’s Bob” she said, and passed me over.
“Hey, Pete, ” said Bob, “I’m ready to step out into the real world again. Take me to the pub, and please can it be soon.”
We agreed to meet in my local at 9pm on Friday. It’s a 5-minute walk for me, 10-15 for him. It’s a nice place – not too rough, but not too pristine either. I did once have a very unpleasant experience there when a large dog wiped its droolsome mouth on my trouser leg, but I guess that’s my own fault for not bashing it around the head with an ashtray when I saw it approaching.
Bob was already there when I arrived, nursing a near-full pint of lager and watching the cricket. I equipped myself with a suitable drink and joined him. We discussed his ascent to Level 51, and thankfully he didn’t seem to have an irresistible urge to bore me to tears with details. As the bottom of the glass approached, I mentioned that I had only come out with a tenner, so I would probably need to head into town at some point. In retrospect, I wish that I’d kept my mouth shut, had three and a half pints, and gone home when the money ran out.
In town, our next venue was a pub which was, once upon a time, frequently patronised by Karen and I. It’s slightly too pristine for my liking, but it has an excellent menu. It was busy, but Bob and I found a couple of leather chairs in a corner which appeared to be available. We sat and continued to discuss matters of great import until the glasses ran dry. “I definitely don’t want to go clubbing tonight, ” said Bob, “but I would like to go to the nearby Lloyds No. 1 bar.”
Well, he was a recovering WoW addict, and I’d had two pints already, which is enough to blunt the edges of my judgement, so I acquiesced. It was important that Bob have a good time tonight, to realise how much fun there is to be had in Real Reality.
We fought our way into the throng at the nearby Lloyds No. 1 bar. “Crikey, it’s crowded in here, ” said Bob. “Nonsense, ” I said, “there’s enough room in here for another eight people, easy. Fetch me a beer.”
Within seconds, Bob bumped into a very nice friend of his and we got talking. Bob asked her what she does for a living these days, and she said that she was a bait girl. Bob immediately looked very nervous. “Don’t worry, ” she said with a smile, “I’m not working tonight.”
The evening progressed, and soon midnight was imminent. “Hey, Pete, ” said Bob, “I’m having a great time.” I looked over at him, stood by the cigarette machine in his grey fleecy jumper, through which his pot belly betrayed his sedentary lifestyle and encroaching years. And it was evident that he was having a great time, for he was swept away by the music and gyrating to the beat like somebody’s dad (specifically, mine). I had already had too much to drink – I was beyond the point at which the alcohol made me mellow (which we can all agree is the perfect time to stop) and was now at the point where I was destined to feel pretty rough in the morning.
“I am very glad that you are having a great time, Bob,” I said.
“Let’s go clubbing!” said Bob.
I wish that I’d muttered something along the lines of “oh crap” but the truth is that alcohol does funny things to you, and at that point, clubbing seemed like a very good idea. Bob’s bait girl friend had invited us earlier in the evening, mentioning that the bouncers might turn me away due to the fact that I was wearing jeans and trainers, but such things have long since ceased to worry me. In fact, at the time when bait girly said this, I recall having opened my mouth to say “but they are 501s!” Mercifully, the conversation moved on before I had a chance to speak, and make a fool of myself.
We were in the club sometime around midnight. I had no problem getting past the bouncers, though Bob made it hard for himself by insisting on showing ID and then struggling to find his driver’s license in his wallet. We deposited our coats in the cloakroom, and then made for the bar.
I don’t remember much after that, but to be honest I don’t remember much before it either. I remember dancing a lot, doing my best to imagine that I was 19 years old again, and harnessing the energy, purpose, co-ordination and lack of inhibition which I recall possessing in my youth. I’d like to think that I was successful, but to be honest I never really knew what I was doing back then either, so it’s possible that I still looked like a tosspot. I dunno, my friends used to tell me that I was an ok dancer, but then friends tell you what they think you want to hear, so it could mean nothing. One thing I do know for certain – Bob still dances like somebody’s dad (specifically, mine).
I got bored at about half past one. I could feel myself deteriorating, so I located Bob and shouted “I’m off. Are you coming?” at him. I was a little surprised when he said “No” because I figured that he must have been feeling a bit rough too, but perhaps that little pot belly contains magical properties, or it could have been his +3 Enchanted Grey Fleecy Jumper of Alcohol Absorption.
I reclaimed my coat and staggered home. Once indoors, I sat on the sofa and drank water until the worst of it passed.
Saturday morning was a bit of a loss, and I slept through most of it. Mid-morning I treated myself to a “tactical chunder” to cleanse my system, after which I felt much better, and by late afternoon I was feeling human again.