At some point late last year, I came across an article in the Saturday Magazine by the always entertaining Biko. The piece was about women who drink alone at bars and have the audacity to sit at the counter. The point was that this was a clear challenge to all men present; an invitation to treat; a request for attention and conversation.
I beg to differ. You see I am very often that woman. Why you wonder does a single gal choose to go out on her own? Aren’t there people she could hang out with or better things that she could do with her time (like take up knitting)? By the time you’re my age, a lot of your pals are married, in relationships, dating, or just plain old busy so it does often happen that you have no one to hang out with. Why not stay home? Home which is a refuge from the outside world at most times can seem like a prison when you’re there too often. Besides, I like the loud music, flashy lights and crowds of the rave scene.
But believe me, it does take thick skin to go out solo. You get strange looks from people (both men and women) who have no doubt that you’re waiting for company and keep craning necks to see what the guy your waiting for looks like. Then the realization dawns on them, as clear as the techno beat playing, that you’ve been stood up. What follows are overdone sympathetic glances sent your way to communicate that they’ve been there too, while the truth of the women’s glee and the men’s caution (after all there must be some reason why you were stood up) is easily discernible. If you’re lucky, by the time things take this ugly downward shift, your drink will have carried you beyond the point of caring.
When at a bar alone, believe me the last place you want to be is at a table for 2. This is actually an invitation to all and sundry to come chat you up. By the time they notice you’re solo there’s really nothing stopping them from taking up the chance. I know am single and should be doing all I can to get me a suitor but it’s never that serious. Never that serious. By the time you’ll have gone through the riff raff and the ‘heaven’s lost an Angel’ one liners, the headache you’ll have will make you wish you’d stayed home.
So presenting the bar counter (tada!). If you’re a single lady thinking of going it alone, this is the most ideal place to position yourself. Think about it practically. Preferably, get a seat to one end of the counter. This will probably have a view to whatever match is on, a good view of the whole place and you have unrestricted access to the bar man. The barman is actually an unsung hero; the symbol of peace and safety. So here’s this level headed guy (who must stay that way for purposes of ensuring profitability and keeping his job) who will talk to you if you seem to want conversation and leave you the hell alone if you don’t. At the counter you run a tab and don’t have to go through the indignity of being refused service because as a single (black) woman on her own, you must be a prostitute waiting for a white man to come along and buy you liquor. For some reason, it takes a guy quite some confidence to come up to the bar counter and chat you up (unless he just so happens to be the fellow you sat next to). I don’t actually know why that is (natural selection?) but if you’re looking to weeding out the chaff at a bar, that would be the place to position yourself.
Having said all the above, I must point out that I’m still single :-)
Happy New Year!