“Why do you look so lonely?”
“I don’t know, maybe because I am lonely”, the lonely looking guy looked up from his beer after he’d finished speaking. He slightly chuckled to himself in a way that sounded like it meant the subject was being closed.
Helen continued to stare at him as he looked back down at the bubbles forming on the top of his beer. The brim of his hat touched the rim of the bottle. She made a decision.
“What’s your name?”
He started to answer, he opened his mouth to do it. But before he could say anything he was ceased by a smile. A grin really, and she knew from that grin that he was a good guy.
And kinda interesting too.
“Bill. Bill,” he paused to chuckle again, a slight half chuckle which told Helen that, if she could have seen his eyes, they must have sparkled at exactly that moment, “my name’s Bill. What’s yours?”
Bill looked up and turned. He still didn’t look quite at her. But he certainly was paying more attention to her than his beer. As if to redress the issue he lifted up his beer bottle and buried it’s neck somewhere under his moustache.
“I’m Helen”, she thought for a second. And then another. She knew through both of these seconds that it would be possible to go with this man. This man that she found attractive, this man that she could love. But for every second that she remained thinking about it she knew that it couldn’t happen. Consider, she considered, the practicalities of the situation.
Could she really go out with a guy now? Especially a guy that she’d just met? She knew that for every second she kept thinking about it then she wouldn’t go for it. And she knew that she’d keep thinking about it until it was no longer a possibility. She was her own worst enemy, and she hated that. But at the same time she knew it was her best defence. If she could just keep herself thinking then she didn’t have to commit.
Why was she so bothered? She’d not gone out with people so many times before? And she didn’t even like men with moustaches! The only thing that bothered her was the realisation that not going out with people was easier in the short term but that easier in the short term almost certainly didn’t mean happiness in the long term.
It’s a thing that Helen had been thinking about more and more recently. That the things that gave her the most happiness in the short term, drink, drugs, sex… were very rarely related to long term happiness. In fact every single thing that was an easy way to be happy today was an easy way to be miserable tomorrow. And the opposite was true too, the things she was most proud of in her life had been real hard. They really took an effort, but she had never looked back on an effort and thought that she had wasted her time.
“I sound like a PBS special”.
“What?”, Bill looked confused, and suddenly he looked directly at Helen. “What did you say?”
“I said, I sound like a PBS special. I had had this whole conversation in my own head. Like it could have been in somebody else’s head I guess, but there it was in my own head, and then at the end the next thing I needed to say to myself was to tell myself that I was sounding like a PBS special, but unfortunately I thought that thought too loudly and ended up saying it out… well to you.”
“I like PBS, and I like you.”
“Okay, well I like you too, so what are we going to do about it?”
“Well I’m going to buy another beer right now. Just one more but I’m going to do it. And I’d like to buy you a beer too. Or whatever it is that you’d like to drink…”
“Right, well I’m going to buy both of us a beer, and then we’ll just see how that goes. But there’s one condition”.
“I want you to talk about who you are. Because I’m interested in who you are. But I need to know from you before I buy you this drink, that when you talk about you, you won’t sub-vocalise anything. You’ll just tell me exactly what you’re thinking. Because while you might think that what you’re thinking is the most embarrassing thing in the world. To me it’s the most interesting thing you can say.”