Part The Second
So I planned my adventure. I got my dark Thomas Jefferson shirt (which looks kind of like a pirate shirt, except it does have a dark tone to it, and large wooden buttons instead of ruffles) black slacks, my ubiquitous vest (I Always Wear A Vest...unless I am just hanging at the house, and then it's a t-shirt with a flannel) and my beloved Doc Martins. I don't know if this counts as a uniform or not, but it's me. So if it doesn't fit in, neither will I. I planned on leaving for the mall early to see a couple of movies, just in case the club is a bust. That way I will have gotten some entertainment out of the day. I saw Three Kings and Sixth Sense, both very good, but I've strayed off topic enough for one droning, don't you think? As I was getting some more details about the night on-line, one of my on-line friends showed up on the chat program I haven't disabled just yet and got me horridly, morbidly depressed. I was miserable and didn't care about much of anything. I then knew I was ready to go.
After the movies, it was around 9 PM. Now, the ad said that the festivities, such as they were, started at 8pm. My understanding of that subculture, however, is that they don't even get up until that late, and don't go out until even later, so I didn't expect much. Good thing, too, because when I walked in, the bartender was standing at the front door talking the bouncer, and inside were a total of 5 people. This is the biggest mall in America and there are five people. Me, three people who look like they just came up from the Gap and will start singing "I Just Can't Get Enough" or whatever that inane song in their latest ad is, and a girl dressed all in black, with the black hair and leather jacket. There is some decent ambient music playing over the speakers and Rocky Horror Picture Show is up on the many TV screens which were prolly used to show the Vikings game earlier that day. Why is it that bars show movies without the sound on their screens? Atmosphere? If you are going to do that, show something that looks really freaky on the screen, like reruns of old Sid and Marty Krofft shows like The Bugaloos, or HR Puffinstuff. That'll make you drink.
I sit myself down at the bar, since if there aren't going to be any people here, I'll at least get a drink. The bartender comes over and I ask for a Guinness. He says they don't have it. I put my head down on the bar and begin to softly weep, which should get me in good with the crowd showing up, I would imagine. Now I'm depressed, deprived, lost and without my only true friend. I ask what the darkest beer they have is and he pulls out a bottle of Beck's. A bottle. Of a German beer. I say whatever and he gives it to me without a glass. When I ask for one (since beer has to have the excess carbonation released by pouring it into a glass or it is too bitter) he gives me a plastic cup, much like the ones you would buy for $5 at a frat party. I look at it oddly and he says, "We used to have glass, but the regular customers would get too drunk and throw them at people." Wonderful. The cup holds less than half the beer in the bottle and I decide that this is as good as I'm going to get, and tip the bartender a little more than I should so that he treats me well all night.
Cory's Bar Tip: Be good to your bartender at the beginning of the night. Their salary sucks and they depend on tips. If they know you tip well, you'll be their friend. If you tip way too much, he'll think you're trying to impress someone, and it won't be him. If you don't, he'll give you the cheap crap when you ask for a mixed drink. I'm always good to the bartender, and if no one else will talk to me, they will make sure I at least get decent booze.
The girl all in black comes over and sits next to me. Odd, since I don't think anyone has ever come over to talk to me at any bar or coffee house I've ever been in. Only in places I want to be left alone in do people feel the need to invade my life and tell me about themselves. We strike up a conversation about the Rocky Horror Picture Show, which leads into her telling me about herself. I'm always amazed at how much other people want to talk about themselves. There seems to be a social compact with human beings that if you share something with them, they will trust you and tell you things that should prolly be secrets. As with all women, her second or third question is "What do you do for a living?" I give a quick little sketch of my two jobs and she starts talking about her job. She works in a costume store in the mall, and with little prompting from me, I get to know how she got to Minnesota (since everyone I meet is from somewhere else, unless I met them my first year here). She went on and on about how cheap it is to live here, how jobs are so easy to get and on and on. Then, I get a quick sketch of her romantic life, which is at least as complex at the relationships on All My Children. I smile, nod and listen as she goes through the list of who's in and who's out. I can't keep track of when my favorite TV shows are on, but she can keep track of relationships that leave my head spinning.
After about 20 minutes where I've learned a lot about her, she's learned that I like old horror movies. Again, people would rather talk about themselves that hear about me, so I am able to keep myself close to the vest, as it were. It is at this time that I notice two things. One, there are still not a lot of people here. Two, there are a couple of frat boys and their dates on the other side of the bar, looking very out of place. Most of the time Gators is a very bright, well-lit place, but for Sunday, the only lights on are the little one for the DJ, the lights under the bar for the bartender, some safety light in the kitchen, and the two video games in the corner, both of which have to do with shooting zombies. The Frat boyz are drinking some sort of light beer with shots of some kind, and the larger one (with a nearly shaved head, it looked like he just took a pair of those home clippers and buzzed it so as not to have to deal with having hair) downs a quick shot, and every time he's done yells at the top of his lungs, "Yeeeeee-Hah!"
Oddly enough, I don't think that term has ever been used at a Goth gathering, unless there are Country Western Goths down in Oklahoma or Texas. It was what I like to call, the David Lynch moment of the evening. I expect Dennis Hopper to come in at any time, with a gas mask strapped to his face, leading Kyle MacLachlan in to have a Pabst Blue Ribbon.
He doesn't however, and I go back to talking about movies and Saturday morning TV shows of my youth with the girl who was sitting with me. I ask if it's always this dead, and she says that people really don't start showing up until 11:30 or 12:00. This is Minnesota, and the bars shut down at 1 am, so they must have to do power drinking and fast forward socializing, but what do I know. If I'm not at work, I'm worshipping the images from my Satellite Dish that bring me warmth and comfort. I don't know the rituals of human interaction.
A little while later, a guy sits next to me with a book of eyeglasses frames he's looking through. He enters our conversation, for which I'm grateful, since the girl was starting to ask personal questions about me that I was having trouble evading or redirecting. I am thankfully saved from having to talk about myself in any sort of detail. After a while, they start talking about old Goth vs. new Goth, and how in their day, they had to scrounge to find the right clothes, make their own hair dye, etc. I kept waiting for them to tell me that they had to walk through three feet of snow, in blizzards just to get to the drug store to buy their equipment. They divulge their ages, and force me to as well. As always, they don't believe me, but thankfully, they said I looked much younger than my real age. And no, I'm not telling you. Bugger off. I'm old enough to know what's right and young enough not to choose it. I'm wise enough to win the world and weak enough to lose it. I'm a New World Man, dammit.
On To Part 3