Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Sixty minutes in a London pub, some degree of separation

"Kyahnahseetahayah?" frothed the Rugby-sized pub regular. His substantial ass imagined itself small enough to wedge in next to me on the over-sized chair in the London pub.

"Can you sit here?" I repeated for clarification, but said ass was already testing the possibility and subsequently established, at the misfortune of my left thigh, that no, he physically couldn't. "You can sit there," I suggested with a lubricating smile, pointing at a seat a few meters away. To compromise, he slid himself onto the arm of my chair instead, where his giant body eclipsed my view of anything else in the pub and proceeded to emanate noxious fumes. I met the degree of his lean with my own in the same direction so as to avoid contact with anything more intrusive than the spray of his saliva.

I'd chosen the seat nearest the window, both to watch the time on the tower clock outside and to maximize daydream opportunity with a clear view of a bustling London street. In an hour, I was to be at the Liverpool Street tube station to meet my new boyfriend after work, and I intended to enjoy a moment of solitude over a cold, bubbly pint of cider. We were heading to the English countryside, to play house alone together for a few days before my return to Canada, and he was really all I wanted to think about. As a wise English band once said, however, "you can't always get what you wah-ahnt."

"Yer prittay," sprayed my new companion, his eyes entirely out of sync, neither directed at me. "I'm Welssssshhhhhh," he said, hoping to create an allure of exoticism that might win my favour, or failing that, any woman's favour, despite his probable impotency to follow through with anything beyond ordering more pints to spill on his bar-rag of a shirt. "Have you met people from Wales before?" he frothed for the third time, this after we'd established, more than once, that I was Canadian and not offended that he'd assumed I was American. Boring him off, my usual tactic, didn't seem to be working.

"Leave the poor girl alone," his friends called from across the room, from somewhere behind this fleshy barricade of man. "She's not interested in a drunken idiot, you drunken idiot."

I liked them straight away. "I've met drunken idiots all over the world," I said, "and three of them happened to be from Wales."

"Reeeeeh-leeeeeh?" he said, leaning closer, ignoring that I was the fourth person to call him a drunken idiot since he'd made his introduction. His arm was around my back now, but I didn't particularly mind because the added support prevented him from toppling over and smothering me. Still, I edged forward to avoid coming into contact with whatever was making his skin damp.

"Two at a wedding in London this past weekend, and one in Argentina," I clarified in monotone.

"Argentina!?" he boomed. His enthusiasm made up for my complete lack. "What was his name?"

"Caden," I answered, because it was easier than saying, "Stop talking." I checked the time again, and alternately gulped cider and covered the glass with my hand to protect it from spit-spritzing.

"Caden [So-and-So]?" he asked, slightly more sober. "The one from the Welsh pet food empire?"

"What?" He finally had my full attention, though my brain didn't immediately allow me to understand how, on my first visit to the United Kingdom, I'd managed to encounter Caden's older brother's best friend in a random London pub around the corner from the Liverpool Street tube station. Within minutes, I was on some stranger's mobile talking to Wales. "It really is a small world, " I said to the brother of a traveller I'd met, and maybe smooched, at a Buenos Aires hostel two years earlier, "Say 'hello' to Caden for me."

My sixty minutes alone in a London pub was up. I grabbed my bags and ran to the station.

Liverpool Street Train Station, originally uploaded by RonDeeView.


Anonymous said...

shut up!
one of those small world moments! what the hell?

Kate Savage said...

No kidding!

Either the world really is small, or pasts are very good at haunting.

Annie said...

Haha, weird! Good story..

pistols at dawn said...

This is why I never meet new people: I'm claustrophobic, and can't handle the world being any smaller than it already is.

Bob Stein said...

I thought at first he said "Koyaanisqatsi" the now-famous Hopi word for "life out of balance" which Ron Fricke wildly misunderstood as something dark and existential, but in fact the Hopi's meant something much more cheery like "Madam, if I should keel over into your lap, c'est la vie".