Unrequited Love: An Ode to a Union Bartender

Dove Cameron once said that her boyfriend Thomas, featured in Disney Channel’s Descendants 2 and 3, challenged her not to break eye contact with him on their first date. In that moment she reported the first passionate spirals of love. They laughed together, they cried together, and above all they saw their own reflections. I cannot verify this because I will not subject myself to re-watching Dove Cameron interviews; 2020 is about self care. Regardless, a night out in St Andrews often follows a similar pattern.

Club 601 – Yourunion.net

The union. An unsettling atmosphere, besotted by the confidence of men and women who’ve freshly escaped the clutches of puberty. Who are these people? Are they our friends? You attended nearly every night out of your first year, and now the rooms are…foreign. Do you even bother with niceties, or do you unleash the lip curl you’ve practiced especially for backlit cretins sitting in booths? Then you see him. Two feet of countertop separates you. Blue collared shirt. Hormonal acne on his chin. Your eyes collide like meteors and he needs only raise his eyebrow to ask a question otherwise deafened by a group rendition of Country Roads surrounding you. You’ve seen him before. Perhaps in Pret or a lecture? Or maybe he’s the one you got a little too friendly with to get your song at the top of the karaoke list—all is fair in love and war after all. Tonight is different, though. You want to test the limits, sniff the forbidden fruit. You direct him to your friend, let her order first. In the end you know he’ll find his way home. 

            You think back on your other dalliances, recalling the faces of French-Canadians who shouted up to you dancing on their bar top, “TIP IS NOT INCLUDED” while baptizing you in shots of bathroom water. This was different. These people were honorable. They knew pain. They knew dorm-wide chlamydia. But, did they know….you?

            You could have sworn that when you saw him in the street that his gaze lingered on you for longer than it should have. You have an unbridled connection, but you don’t know how to tap into it. Maybe perform one of the classic gestures shrug/laugh/thumb/point to “this guy” combo in an attempt to establish common ground? Maybe ask him to point you in the direction of water to let him cool off your heated gaze. You. Will. Remember. This. Tomorrow. 

            No. Tonight you make THE move. 

            Play it cool. Chat to the boy who asked you to “hangout” on Valentine’s Day. When he offers to buy you a Pablo, accept, but you must go to the bar with him. As he is ordering drinks level your gaze on your target, while leaning on your decoy. Do not look back, do not look away, do not even blink. Dry-eye is for the weak. You are not weak. You are a fake tanned, sleep deprived, overly exfoliated succubus of St Andrews. Let your powers shine. 

            There it is! He tries to play off his squint as a result of the fluorescent lights, but you see it for what it is. He is as green with envy as a mushy pea. Mission accomplished. Claim your drink and saunter away. 

            As the night nears its end you know what you must do. Invite the pawn back to yours and lead him out of the room. I know it feels wrong. He is an imposter in the place of your true mate. As you exit what your soon-to-be bedmate is repeatedly calling the “onion”, give the barkeep a final stare, conveying everything you wish you could say to him. You know he understands.

            It was all for you, lover.

E.M.W.

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