Thursday, September 13, 2007

Going Solo (without meaning to) and all the things I didn't learn from it

The dark unsmoky interior of The Attic seemed vaguely threatening. After all, for the first time, I was going there alone, trusting to someone's casual:

"I'll be at The Attic tonight. C U there?"

that I wouldn't be alone once I got there. But things have a way of playing out and casual invitations have a way of leaning heavily on the side of insincere. Which is why, when I got there, casual inviter was not to be seen.

I didn't know anyone.

I was effectively, ALONE AT THE ATTIC (How's that for a sequel to Sleepless in Seattle?)

I made my way around the bar searching for a seat. At least seated, you feel less awkward.

There was no seat.

One empty one was reserved. A group of two girls that would swell into a group of four. One of the two gave me a dirty look as I moved closer and plunked her capacious pink handbag there.


Another was occupied by a laptop. I asked the guy sitting in the next seat (I assumed, incorrectly, that it was his laptop) if I could share the seat with the laptop. He told me he didn't know. It wasn't his and he really couldn't be responsible for moving it.

OK, so this was getting humiliating. I was nervous and so way out of my comfort zone that I decided, hey, let's see if this is fodder for blogging. (The discomfort we will put ourselves through for a post is phenomenal).

I made my way back to the chair with the capacious pink handbag and stood next to it. Turned to the smiling female bartender and asked if she had any brandy on the menu. Yes, there was Martell VSOP for RM25 a glass or Henessy VSOP for RM28. Ach well, Martell was good enough. I would sip one glass of brandy with warm water over the hour I had made up my mind to stick it out there (I was due to meet my boss at the office at 10 for a rehearsal of his speech), enjoy (or at least, try to enjoy) the live music, and then make my way out of there.

New people were arriving. I looked up hopefully but the casual inviter was not among those present. A girlish 40-something in a pretty frock who swished her way around like a Latin dancer came up to talk to everyone around me. I had met her before but she obviously didn't remember. I had been with my friend Terence then, and he was something of a VIP here. When I rocked up with Terence, the two owners came to talk to us, followed by girlish old lady who tittered becomingly and forced my poor friend to stand and talk to her.

Terence has a bad back.

After about 15 minutes of unrelenting carbonated girlish conversation, Terence was leaning awkwardly on the table, shifting position to try and get more comfortable. The girlish one, unaware of anything but her own charm prattled on. Then she swished over to my side to introduce herself and talk to me.

Anyway today, she was too busy being beautiful, her long-suffering Danish husband in tow, to say hi. (which is why I'm being so catty).

A contestant from the reality TV show my boss had been involved in walked in. She was obviously popular and part of the in-crowd. I smiled at her hopefully, but her eyes brushed past me without recognition. Ouch. This girl had gone out of her way to be nice to me before, from some stupid supposition that I had an ounce of influence over my boss's decision on whether she would get to stay in the game or not.

I didn't.

She lost.

I contemplated going up to say hi but decided not to. If this was the way she wanted to play it, the only thing I had going for me was my dignity (OK not much dignity standing alone, desperately clutching the side of a bar, without even a chair and without anyone to talk to, but still)

So anyway, the Former Contestant went up to introduce the first act of the day, a girl with powerful pipes who would give us a rendition of cheesy 80s numbers (OK you can probably tell my mood from this; usually, I love 80s numbers). She was OK. Good in fact. Except that her accompanying pianist sounded like a bunch of bananas. And the singer really should have learned to pronounce some of her words.

Through all this, I kept glancing at my watch. OK, 25 minutes to go. 15 minutes to go. Yay, only 10 minutes to go. She gave us one more number and stopped for a breather at 5 minutes to go.

Could I leave?


I said 10 and I would leave at 10. Leaving earlier would be the act of a coward.

So I waited until this guy, who rejoiced in the rather unfortunate name of Adonis, (he so wasn't!) came on to give us a rendition of Lady in Red. After Powerful Pipes, he was rather a disappointment. You could hardly hear him. Then he came to the chorus and imbued a little passion into the words:

"Lady in red, is dancing with me, cheek to cheek."

Took me back to France, a little red number from Tannkul in BSC, and slow dancing with a soon-to-be-ex-boyfriend who was holding me uncomfortably close and weeping because he was drunk.

Ah, the good old days...

Anyways, rude as it is to leave in the middle of a number, it was now 10 o'clock. Which meant, I was home free. The jerk who said he would be there hadn't showed up and I made my way a little unsteadily down the two flights of stairs (The Attic is after all, an attic) to my car to head for the office.

I had texted two friends while I was there, telling them of my predicament. One was at the airport sending his father off. The other was at home, cuddling her son.

Note to self: Once is enough. I don't have to take this challenge again. Next time I go to The Attic (or anywhere), make SURE I have company. And don't trust in "c u there?"!

If someone cannot even take the trouble to spell out the words, they're probably not gonna take the trouble to show up.


John Calica said...

That was so brave. I am not even sure if I could endure such a predicament for five minutes. But yeah, I agree. Some people just couldn't afford to lie...

Jenn said...

Thanks John. It felt felt awkward and uncomfortable and yukky but I rationalised it with the thought of a blog post. The things we writers will do for our work...:)

Anonymous said...

It's so difficult going out of your comfort that was really brave...but you're right, no one should toss out casual invitations if they didn't mean it.
glad u got some fodder for your writing though...

Anonymous said...

Hey Jen, you know what...there are some bars in KL where I wouldn't mind terribly being alone at ..La Bodega in Telawi being one of them....but Attic? Nah. something about that place makes me feel just a weeeee bit uncomfy, which is why I can imagine you must have had a really strange time. Let's make sure our Friday night is good k ;-) Am up for anything!

Anonymous said...

I could be alone at some bars, but that place sounds like one needs a cigarette and a gaggle of friends for support! Nyeeks!

Nessa said...

We must suffer for our art. You were right to think of it that way. Brave and resourceful.

Anonymous said...

well done. the next step then would be to take your watch off. (and yes, that is said with all possible irony in the idea of me giving advice to you.)

and i have to say, you don't do it often, but your 'catty' posts crack me up.

c u later.

Jenn said...

Praby: Thanks. Fodder for writing is all I need to justify ANYTHING, I guess.

Addy: Looking forward to it. And just so you know, I'd even be uncomfortable alone at La Bodega. The only bar I was comfortable being alone at and chatting up the friendly bartender was After Five. Don't think I'll ever find a substitute for After Five.

Marge: Nyeeks? I like that. I think I'm going to officially adopt that exclamation.

Nessa: Sigh. That we must...:)

Bo: Miaow!!!!! Purrrrrrrrrr....

Anonymous said...

I think we've all 'been there - done that'. At least we have blogs now, so it's not for no avail.

Now, I don't mind your being catty at all (in fact I rather enjoy it) but 'old lady'?? for someone in their 40s???? Now THAT I mind

Jenn said...

Let's see, her behaviour would have been appropriate for a seven-year old. And today, even seven-year olds don't do that whole cute girlish thing, swishing their skirt and chatting to you in unnnaturally girlish voices to appear endearing. So hell yeah, old lady. At 40-something.