Monday, 13 November 2006

Rita

I walked into a pub and saw a lady in her late fifties/early sixties, propped against the bar, swaying slightly under the influence of a few gin and tonics. I stood next to her to order a drink and she turned to me and smiled and said how much she loved tall men and that it’s always nice to be arm in arm with a man and look up to him; to have someone to look after you, to protect you.

I turned to her and asked her where abouts in Wales she came from, her thick, warm accent had given it all away and she said North Wales, Betys-y-Coed and I told her that I walked through there when I was doing The Big Adventure and we discussed the merits of Bangor and the beauty of Snowdon and glacial valleys and how weird Cerrigydruidion is during lambing season.

She offered to buy me a drink and she refused to accept my protestations, as we waited she explained that she used to work in London and that she comes back occasionally to reminisce and get drunk. I asked her name and she said Rita, I shook her hand and gave her a kiss on the cheek. When my pint arrived she waved me off to go and sit with my friends, in reality I wanted to stay and talk to her for as long as she wanted but she reckoned she’d had enough drink and wanted to window shop.

I watched her as she stayed at the bar for a few moments, as alone as she was before I came, the bar staff giving her weird looks and as she walked out I tried to catch her eye to say goodbye and thanks but she just motored past.

As a young man I remember reading Chuck Bukowski and thinking there was something noble and romantic in being a lone drunk, propping up bars and making conversation like some passing ship. Some days I think that’s bullshit and some days I think Rita and Chuck are onto something…

12 comments:

  1. Sometimes I'm afraid of being Rita: getting too old to fit in down at the pub. I hope the world is populated with more nice guys like you when I'm lonely Rita.

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  2. I just wish HG would stop hitting on the old ladies...leave some of that drunk geriatric pussy for the rest of us. ;-) And you offer her drink...but where's mine? I've been buying loads of lottery scratch cards too, you ungrateful swine!

    But yes, we all harbour romantic yearnings to be drunk poets, propping up the bar, toasting friends long gone and memories left fading like ashes in the grate. As I often beg The Missus, "Just one more drink, please, one more drink".

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  3. very touching, i remember talking to you about this, as one of the friends you left her for, next time go with your gut feeling and keep her company if you want. We all know your a softy and love you more for it. Im still in my young adult phase so don't show my soft side it's "not manly" lol.

    But it does pull on my heart strings thinking of her and people like her on there own.

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  4. If you act anywhere near as well as you write, you're fucking awesome.

    Yeharr

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  5. I echo BP.

    You're too good to waste away from alcoholism. Be the one who writes about it, not lives it. (I imagine you bristling at this sentence, but I mean it well.)

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  6. "What's that Harvey? Why thank you, I prefer your company too..."

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  7. Being the lonely drunk isn't all it's cracked up to be.

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  8. That's lone drunk, cranky, not lonely.

    Lonely drunks are losers who nobody wants to be around.

    Lone drunks are romantic sojourners who, having transcended the inbred human need for social companionship by their sheer greatness of character, get wasted and brood.

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  9. That's a touching story Dan. Rita sounds like a real sweet woman.

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  10. I cant help but feel utterly sad when I see old ladies, or men for that matter, alone and looking for a friend to talk to.
    There is a lady who lives a few doors down from me, over 90, and she still makes it out of her front door and down her path to stand at the gate and wait for passers-buy to say hello. Its the sweetest and saddest thing all rolled in to one.
    On the one hand, I think of her husband who is gone, and the fact that she has had to watch all her friends die one by one around her. On the other hand, I think WOW. She's still going and she's still got all that resolve to get up and make it down the garden path to say hello. The sad thing is, there aren't many friendly giants like youself that will take the time to have a chat. We're all in such a hurry all the time, we hardly have time to say hello to our own family members, let alone lonesome elders on the street or in the pub.
    I hope one day, if Im lucky enough to find someone who will grow old with me, my husband and I will die at the exact same time. I just couldn't handle it any other way.

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  11. Getting wasted and brooding seems like a waste of the waste...and not too romantic. But what do I know, when I get drunk I like to fight.

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