The setting is a bar more Cheers than Club Charles but not completely unpalatable. I’m meeting friends there and have this feeling that I’m running late. I wind up being the third of our crew to arrive and wind up taking a seat next to one of the two (but the two being quite in to their conversation and barely acknowledge me with a quick hand wave). A strange guy approaches me and asks if the seat next to me is taken. I mention that it’s not despite knowing that we’re waiting on a ton of other folks to show. He tries to start up some conversation with me and it goes awkwardly. We reach a point where it’s a little too weird and he says: “Can we start over?” “Sure,” I reply, then he gets up. “Is this seat taken?” Noticing another friend of ours arrives, I come back with, “Actually, it is.”
As our crew starts to coalesce, the place gets louder and louder. I’m a little on edge (apparently, certain romantic pursuits are on the line at this gathering). As it fills up, I start to wonder how I’ve wound up in a place that feels too awfully similar to that damn show. I cringe a little bit but keep that to myself. There’s drinking to be done.
After a little while, TVs around the bar start getting their channels turned and half of my friends disappear into the back. “Be right back.” I stay at my seat and chat with someone and a few minutes later, they’re all returning from the back, everyone having changed into the multi-colored uniforms of their favorite drivers. (NASCAR?) Someone says something about the spray-on black leather treatment not working right and then out come the sandwiches. All of which have sprouted little fungal patches.