There’s no jazz in this pub.
There always was. Well, not always, but mostly. In one of the pubs. More of a bar. In another, we’d mostly or always just drink coffee and beer and make full-throttle early-burn-out efforts at University work. Research. Write. Footnote. Spellcheck. Grammar check. Send. Or something like that. Getting harder to remember the details. Been out nearly as long as we were in.
He still reads my mind, though.
Unlucky for him.
Says, ‘We’re getting old, man,’
And ‘I know,’ I say, pretending that he isn’t psychic.
Which is why I don’t have to say the thing about there being no jazz.
He just knows. I just know it.
There’s other music, of course, but it’s something from the eighties. On the speakers, though, – mercifully – not a live band. In fact, the place where a band would be, maybe, in this pub, is filled with empty tables.
On one of the tables there’s a wine bottle and a glass, and the glass is drained but I can’t tell about the bottle. I make a joke about going over to check it for dregs. Well, I say that I’m going to, but he knows it’s a joke. We’re getting old, he says, and we’re both of us, for some reason, lacking in energy.
He likes to remind me of times when energy was boundless. Likes to remind me of a night when we’d been to the jazz pub but come back to the other about one in the morning, and ordered pizza, and ordered strong cider on top of all the wine and the fantastic foreign beer that we’d been drinking. He likes to remind me about how I fell off my barstool but somehow stumbled back the whole length of the room before falling.
We both like to laugh.
What wankers we were, eh?
What absolute dicks.
Not like we are now we’re old. Getting old. Getting respectable. Getting more easy to embarrass. Is there a difference?
We mostly meet up now in places like this, pubs like this, cities where we don’t know anyone. That way, our past mistakes and our past victories are our secrets. That way, these secrets themselves become victories, when we share them, remember them, use them to cover up current mistakes.
There’s no jazz in this pub, but we have a laugh about the eighties music, and I even catch myself singing along. Or he catches me, rather, when he comes back from having a piss.
Duran Duran? he says.
You sad bastard.
I try deny it, but it’s a fruitless attempt.
Talk turns again to the good days, the old days, when I’d do things like that all the time. Well, not all the time, but more often than is mentally regular.
Talk turns to how good it is to catch up, how it’s been too long. How it’s tricky with him working now, and me still not working, and both of us with a long way to travel. Metaphorically and not metaphorically speaking.
This is the way it is, we conclude, and we deal with it. Man up. Meet up like this and drink beer and drink coffee and then go our separate ways about seven or eight.
Like seven or eight’s the new ‘one in the morning’.
Like a couple of pints and a latté is the new legless, new wasted, new wrecked-off-your-face.
We’re getting old, I remind him, before we split at the station. He mentions meeting in two or three months to do it again. Jokes how we need that long to recover.
Well, says it, but I know it’s a joke.
What he means is, we need this to recover. These half-days out. Every so often.
What he means is, there’s no jazz in real life either, but at least this way we’re not alone when we drink.