Last night I went to a show by myself. It was late and I was in pajamas and I didn’t want to leave my bed, but I changed and I did and I went. It was part of my one-girl crash course in How to Be Alone. It’s funny, being alone. I backpacked across Europe for two months by myself, but I still can’t stand alone at a concert without feeling like a laser light show of awkwardness: hands in my pockets, arrhythmic swaying, and an ongoing internal monologue of stand up straight, no not that straight. It’s silly, really. And so I went, just to prove that I could.
More specifically, Anna paid me $10 to make out with someone, because that is what a good friend does when you’ve written 73 blog posts in a row about your ex-boyfriend and someone needs to make it stop.
So I did what any self-respecting liberated woman would do with $10 in her pocket, a directive to make out, and no wingman whatsoever: I went to a gay bar.
If you ever want to get over your fear of going to a bar alone, I really recommend a gay bar. I specifically recommend a gay bar that is just a hair too bright, with a crowd of strangers sing-screaming at the top of their lungs a song called Pussy Manifesto. If that doesn’t cure you, I don’t know what will.
The “making out” part of my mission was more of a challenge. I’m convinced that 90% of flirting is simply looking people in the eye. Unfortunately, standing in a crowded bar alone, looking people in the eye is a task of Herculean heft. I did manage to catch the eye of a girl with curly hair and curvy hips and after an extended internal pep talk, I approached her. And when I say that I approached her, I mean that I happened to be standing next to her already. I intended to say something salacious, but merely squeaked out “I like your skirt.” She said thanks. I ran away. We did not make out.
After about an hour, the show ended and dancing had not yet begun, so the crowd was left to mill about. ‘Milling about’ is one my least favorite group activities, just after corporate ice-breakers, but just before team sports. But milled I did. I milled for a solid 3-5 minutes, scanning the crowd for a face that looked familiar. I didn’t find one. I finally waved my white flag of failure. I was exhausted and it was past my geezerly bedtime. Making out was not on the menu.
On my walk home, hoodie pulled tight against the late night wind, I thought about confidence. The way I spend my days hovering just outside of myself, approving or disapproving my posture, my appearance, my words. And the way that sometimes, for just a moment, on the bus or the sidewalk or in a gay bar, something shifts and suddenly I am not outside myself at all. I am not me, without. I am me. I am enough. I am in my own skin, and I am enough.
I think that was worth $10.
Two blocks later, I was ambushed by two drunk hippies, sweaty arms slung around my shoulders and a stage-whispered invitation to their pot smoking party of three. I regretfully declined.