Last night I had one of the most surreal experiences of my life. (And this is coming from someone who melts her clocks.) First I left an open mic because there was too much social anxiety. Lately I've been feeling super uncomfortable around other open mic comedians. I will just sit quietly by myself at a table and no one will talk to me or anything, and it's super lonely and depressing. On my bike ride home, I saw two racccoons and I followed them three blocks out of my way, but then they alluded me into the shadows, much like my goals and ambitious career dreams.
On the way home I stopped at one of my favorite bars for a cider and pinball. It's one of my favorite things to do, to be at bars by myself... It feels way less lonely than being at home alone by myself, or being at a comedy mic with a bunch of people who may or may not disdain me. To be or not to be... annoying?
When I went to order, I was looking down, (you know, the direction my self esteem grows) into my coin purse to see if I had pinball sized money, and if I would need to ask the bartender to magically turn some larger bills into quarters.
"What will you have, Barbara?" I heard the bartender ask as soon as the girl in front of me had ordered.
"Oh," I didn't really look up. "Um."
The girl in front of me spun around very quickly. She almost bumped into me in her hurry.
"Sorry," we both said as she almost bumped into me. She moved left to get out of my way, and I moved to my right to get out of her way, but sadly it was the same direction and we continued in a very awkward sad white girl waltz for a few seconds. She passed me (unlike Gandalf's balrog) and I quickly dismissed and forgot about the interaction and started chatting with the bartender.
"Do you need pinball quarters?" the bartender sweetly asked me. They might be psychic at this bar. Or I might go there a lot. OR BOTH.
"I have some but not a lot... Does road show take dollar bills?"
"I don't know."
I walked over to the pinball machines to assess whether I would be needing more quarters. I was standing there squinting (no glasses) at the machines when I heard a very soft high noise. I shook my head and realized the girl who I had almost dance collided with earlier was sitting between me and the pinball. It might have looked like I was staring at her, upon reflection, instead of inspecting the pinball dollar/ quarter holes.
"What?" I said. (Not the most graceful or polite response to mishearing someone. It was like 12:30, all the "Beg pardon"s were asleep.)
"Am I bothering you?"
"What? No! What?" I said.
She looked down at her phone.
"I'm just staring at the pinball like an idiot," I said, probably too quietly for her to hear. I then ran back to the bar to get more quarters.
Later, as I played pinball, she had been joined by two other people. I couldn't shake the weird notion that someone thought *I* was so bothered with her that I was just staring at her angrily and wordlessly. She had sounded almost scared of me, ridiculously apologetic, and like she was worried I would yell at her. When I realized that I desperately wanted to go back to her and explain that I wasn't that person at all, I was just an awkward dummy who loved pinball. But I didn't approach her again because her friends were there.
I kept eavesdropping and hearing the two other friends consoling the girl. It seemed like she had recently gone through a breakup of the s/he's just not into you variety. I heard a couple of key phrases like, "I wasn't trying to be annoying!" and "Am I not pretty enough?" and a few from her friends like "no texting them tonight!"
I caught a few extra looks and was surprised again by what I saw. The girl had long dark almost black hair, like mine, with heavy long thick bangs, like mine. She was wearing no makeup, like me, she had dark circles under her eyes from crying, like me. She was wearing a cute quirky dress, like me... She looked like a younger prettier version of me. I wanted so badly to hug her and tell her it was going to be okay.
I had almost had a panic attack today after being around people who don't like me all day, and then, exhausted and in need of a release, I had run to a sanctuary of pinball and beer, in an attempt to shake off my anxiety and loneliness. While there, in MY safe place, I had inadvertently scared someone and made them think I was angry with them. When she left the bar, I sat down on a stool for a second, and then burst into gushing silent tears.