Ah, the long goodbye. Essentially any time one person is forced to interact with another person this bizarre exercise in human interaction can happen. It’s probably happened to you. And it’s the dirt worst.
Imagine. Or recall. You’re at a party, family gathering, meeting, wedding, funeral, work function, bris, intervention, or something as low key as a few quiet beers with a friend… At some point you will invariably decide that the event or whatever is over, you’ve had enough, and you’re going to leave.
So I’m in Bali sitting in my usual favourite café/bar/warung enjoying a deliciously inexpensive meal and a quietly cold beer. After a big morning of riding around aimlessly on my bike and soaking in the human potpourri that is Bali I had built up an appetite for relaxation. I’ve given my order to the dependably perky waitress and eagerly await the forthcoming taste sensation.
After celebrating the hell out of a friend’s birthday, well into the wee hours of the night, I find myself in a popular late night food destination. And just like an ugly fat girl at closing time it’s a destination that can thank alcohol and poor decision making for 100% of their business.
The Gravy Spot. Ugh, there’s just no way to make that sound classy.
After purchasing a ridiculous amount of food because alcohol/poor decision making, with the ridiculous amount of loose change I have because alcohol/poor decision making, I become aware of the demeanour of 90% of the patrons. Patrons who happen to be 90% male.
A few nights ago I met a girl at a bar. Wait! Before you decide that you’ve heard this story before and move on to look at cats doing amusing things, or porn, I can assure you that this tale doesn’t end in some tawdry liaison fueled by booze and happenstance. Nothing so interesting.
Rather, this innocuous meeting has made me question my place in this world. Or, alternatively, my understanding of it.
Since the dawn of mankind we as a species have continued to develop our ability to communicate. Ever since our progenitors discovered they could grunt to convey ideas, we’ve created new means to get a message from our brain and into the brains of others.
From these first tentative steps toward peak communication, from grunts and smoke signals to pigeons, from Maritime flags and sign language to the culture shifting Alexander Graham Bell invention, all the way through to the modern marvel of interconnected satellite computer webs, we have strived to open our channels of communication for the betterment of our planetary society.
Whist travelling one tends to meet many different people. Many different interesting people. I find this is to be especially true when travelling alone. For me it’s one of the main reasons I flee the mundane repetition of my everyday life and seek alternate horizons/experiences.
Luckily, I’ve been blessed to meet so many epic randoms in my travels: Connor the Highlander; with his Irish drinking powers, Elliot the Brit; master of the wry observation, Kara; German house frau supreme, Agung; The Balinese bar god of mischief, Miss Dynamite; the savvy Canadian volunteer, Reggie; the Rastafarian Jesus from Holland, Oni; the most beautiful waitress in all of Indonesia.
All amazing people that have, in one way or another, left a lasting impression on me.
Occasionally you meet someone who is not very interesting at all; at least not to anyone other than themselves. I met someone like this today.
A sharply dressed man with a copy of “Uncut” leaves his table to make his way to the bathroom while a table full of tattooed men and eager women laugh effortlessly at an unheard joke… A businessman shifts awkwardly in his skin as he orders another wine… Two less than subtle women in skirts far too short talk far too loudly about an unfortunate, unseen man… A flock of schoolgirls move aside to let a man wearing shabby clothing move through their throng, then giggle malevolently amongst themselves… The city stoically ignores the commotion.