« on: Yesterday at 12:08:04 am »
Days later we were at the Bogota Beer Company. My pre-travel self would have scoffed at visiting the most Americanized cervezaria in Colombia. My pre-travel self was not battered by long roads and bad bacteria and a sense of boiling unreality stressing the veneer of the world.
I sat at a little table on the patio by the public square, sharing it with my father and step-mother. I was quiet with the learned surety that my words were meaningless. It would take most of the pitcher we were splitting before I realized that my companions could actually understand me. Absently I flicked a Necronomicoin around my fingertips, playing at it in the light that wouldn’t touch it.
“They’re English speakers at the next table,” I said. “They’re from Minnesota, Florida, and Georgia, respectively. The girl from Minnesota is self-conscious about displaying a Midwestern accent, but it’s the one from Tallahassee that has the most pronounced accent. They’re going to ask me to take their photo in a few minutes when their last friend arrives. I usually have a +1 policy where if I take a photo of them, they have to take one with me. I can’t tell if this comes off as fun or douche but I think it’s a great time,” I pause. No feedback from either of them.
I take a long pull from the pint of Roja. Then a longer one. “The Georgian guy lives in the shadow of his older brother, an officer with the Air Force. He tried to follow the family military tradition but he’s no warrior. He doesn’t know what he is, or that’s what he says. What he does know is that he’s a happy office worker, the oblivious uncomplicated kind that everyone else resents and tries to rope into their misery sessions but can’t pin down. So he’s friendly with them but he leaves the office behind when he’s out of work and comes on adventurous little getaways with distant friends to South America or Southeast Asia, places his co-workers wouldn’t go near without the magic words All Inclusive Resort before them.”
I continued staring off into the street and the square beyond and drinking. Between the little glass partitions and the tiny sculpted hedges a young woman walks by on the street. She’s wearing a blue hat with a wide brim that just barely conceals her face and loose golden rings of hair tumble out beneath it, bouncing in the sun. We make eye contact and there’s a hint of playful smile before she went on her way.
My mouth was hanging open, so I filled it with more beer.
“Anyway the pilot that’s going to come in when they all leave, the Seahawks fan? He’s an in control kind of guy, happy with his career, happy with his family and the special certification he earned to fly into Bogota. He thinks he’s got marriage all figured out with these 36 hour trips around the globe but that’s going to blow up in his face real soon. It’s too bad, he’s an alright guy, but it’s too much on his wife. Being married to a pilot was sexy when it first started but now it’s really wearing on her. It doesn’t help that he’s a handsome man and she’s a little concerned about her looks fading. Poor thing.” Silence.
I poured myself another glass. My father didn’t look like he’s drinking it and my stepmother won’t touch the stuff. Couldn’t let it go warm.
The girl in the blue hat was back. She floated up the two steps onto the patio and breezed past our table. I’m greedy for that hint of smile again but this time there’s no eye contact as she says hello to our waitress in Spanish, kissing one another on the cheek, and walks into the bar.
“Cheers,” I said, half to myself, and attacked my glass again. I went to refill it with the pitcher. “Dad, need a top off?” Again, no answer.
My father has been frozen still for a half hour. So has my step mother and the table of young Americans next to us. One man across the patio alone with his book appears to be at my own speed, smoking leisurely away and absorbed in his reading. A trio of businessmen at another table are moving in double time.
I excused myself just in case everything readjusted again while I was in the bathroom, rubber band time taught once more before another deliberate pluck sent it awry. The girl in the blue hat was leaned over the bar talking to the bartender. She remained there while I walked back out again.
The pilot was in the spot of the group of four Americans but he was just as stuck as they were, Seahawks hat and pink shirt unmoving. Just as I sat, the girl exited the patio and stood by the stairs. She unfolded a newspaper and began looking across the pages.
“We need to go home. Home to Massachusetts. The air is thinner here but so is everything. I need a thicker reality.”
“Huh?” came the reply. Everything was moving normally again.
“Nevermind. Want to order another pitcher?”
“J,” he gestured behind me.
The girl in the blue hat was standing at the next table and looking over. She looked at me and asked me something. It was in Spanish. Of course I wouldn’t be able to speak to this beautiful woman.
“No hablo espanol,” I said. That line I had practiced.
“That’s okay. I speak English,” she smiled.
I stood up, “I’m J,” and I held out my hand.
“Lara,” she said, resting her own lightly in mine. “I was trying to get your attention. You seem like an interesting person. Would you like to talk?”
“Of course. Let’s speak outside.”