Can I just say how happy I am that the holidays are over? I truly am. No more hordes of tourists in my work neighborhood, no more false cheer, no more pressure to be warm and fuzzy. In fact, now that the ubiquitous carols have been muted and the decorations are coming down, I'm perking right up (wouldn't mind some snow, though).
For those who didn't listen to the podcast, I am in the throes of a massive crush on Barman Ben, the most dashing bartender to ever grace a drinking establishment. Yes, it's a bad idea, so everyone says, so I realize. However Barman Ben has become more than my object of unrequited affection, he has also become my muse.
Sounds crazy, but it's true. Apart from this blog, I haven't done any creative writing in over a year. Since I started going to Cozy Bar, I sensed inspiration buzzing; a story started to form. I can't remember the last time I felt this kind of urge to write: I'd have to stop in the middle of anything I was doing to scrawl a word or phrase or concept; I had trouble falling asleep because stray sentences would keep circulating; I'd wake up at 3:00am to scribble bits of dialogue in a notebook.
Last week, Podcast Penny accompanied me to the bar, to visit Ben and see if he would provide any more inspiration. Despite being preoccupied, he did, so did the bar's retro atmosphere, and so did Penny, who helped me iron out some details for the story. I spent the rest of the week working feverishly; I barely saw or spoke to anyone and put in hour after hour on my laptop. The final story that emerged is, I have to say, pretty damn good. It's bittersweet and has an open ending. It's the first thing I've been passionate about in months. It's the best thing I've written in years.
Naturally, since Barman Ben inspired the piece, I needed to give him a copy. I mean, how often does a person have a living, breathing muse? It's rather flattering, no?
I went to the bar last night, expecting it to be pretty quiet. Instead it was full of people and more brightly lit than usual (I'm not one to talk, but what kind of lushes go drinking the day after New Year's??) . I was terribly nervous, but had to go through with it.
Ben was in the middle of arguing with a female customer at a back table, who being bitchy over something stupid (don't give the dashing barman attitude, woman!). He went back behind the bar, obviously annoyed, obviously busy. Oh dear.
I was just standing there. Now or never.
"Happy new year," I smiled, shocked at how calm my voice sounded.
"I'm actually not staying, I just wanted to give you this," I handed him a Manila envelope.
"Thank you," he took it and put it beween some bottles behind him.
"It's a short story. I was here the other week taking notes for it."
"Should I be worried?"
I grinned, "No! Not at all. Though you might find one of the characters somewhat familiar."
"Well, thank you."
He seemed genuinely grateful, like I had given him a gift, which was enough for me. I was about to turn away, but he continued.
"I'll read it and let you know... is there any way for me to...?"
"My contact info in on there."
I left the bar, not feeling the ground, dazed on the subway, elated on the walk home.
The thing is, I don't expect him to call, even though it looks like there's a chance he will (I only put my name, address, and number on the story; email is less personal). And if he does call, I don't expect him to ask me out (though on Planet Dolly, we are already mad about each other and trying to make it work despite my 9-5 and his 6-2 hours).
Honestly? This was enough. Giving him the story was my way of curing my infatuation. I'm keeping the ringer on my phone switched off for the next few days so that I can keep calm, and after that I'll put him completely (well, mostly) out of my mind. Since I miraculously managed to play it cool, I'll even be able to return to the bar sometime.
Most importantly, Barman Ben gets to read a lovely story of which he is the imperfect-but-endearing hero. Everybody wins.