I approached the bar, cash securely in my hand. The female barkeep was bustling about, deftly juggling glasses that didn’t quite look clean and multiple bottles of bottom-shelf liquor.
“I’ll be with you in a moment,” she hollered, without turning to look at me. Bartenders apparently have eyes in the back of their heads.
“Sure thing,” I said. This triggered the attention of a grizzled man appearing to be in his late sixties. I accidentally met his gaze, and his expression immediately changed from bored to lascivious.
“Hey,” he said.
“Hi,” I said, in a terse tone that I hoped he would pick up.
He did not. He started to approach me.
I’d surveyed the room when I came in: one older woman at the bar, three men sitting and smoking. No one young, no couples, no one who didn’t seem a little rough around the edges. All the same, I made a panicked glance around the room. Nope, no one to save me or even pretend that they knew me.
The bartender was still busy.
The old man was now facing me, sitting on a barstool with legs spread suggestively. He looked confident, as though he was certain this was going to go his way.
I desperately wished I hadn’t forgotten my wedding ring, although given his attitude, I wasn’t sure it would matter.
I was performing on the other side of the venue and had promised my husband a beer. His happiness was more important than this old man’s, but I felt like my mere presence was exciting the old man more than it should.
“You’re so beautiful,” he said, nearly moaning the words. Holding back my vomit, I muttered out a pathetic “Thanks” and hoped that the bartender would come to my rescue.
“What’ll you have?” She said. An angel.
“The stout, please. Thanks.”
Unswayed by this interruption, the old man continued to leer at me in a way I’d never been stared at. I was baffled; how could someone be so enraptured by me? I’d done absolutely nothing to inspire any of this. I wasn’t much of a looker, either.