The seats at Billy Ray’s belong in the most uncomfortable 50’s diner in the world. They’ve probably been here that long, that’s for sure. Round red seats with chrome bands on the side, they both spin and wobble uneasily, barely large enough to support the asses that sit on them. The bar itself is copper topped, with not very pretty but certainly functional welds keeping the sheets together. Large, old, stainless steel fridges are behind the bar. There’s more metal in this dive than in most pubs I go into and I have to say, the look is pleasantly distinct.
On the far end of the bar, a lively discussion about how the city of Portland deals with gentrification is taking place. I can’t quite make it all out but they definitely have some opinions. The older fellow next to me is almost certainly from the neighborhood. He’s asking the bartender about people by name and the conversation is bantered with the kind of familiarity that comes from long time patrons. He’s drinking Miller High Life from the bottle, casually interested in the people around him, more content with the football games on.
A group of people are in exodus. The Wonder Ballroom isn’t far from here and we’re approaching a ‘doors open’ time. I can see getting your drink on here, sauntering over to the Wonder and sipping on only one drink there, buzzed and pumped on music.
I’m drinking Elysian’s Bifrost. It’s sweet, like an orange gumdrop but it finishes like an IPA, a pithy bitterness on the middle of my tongue. I’m not finding it to my liking; the sweetness is a bit much and the bitter is scouring. Something a little more balanced might be better. I usually like Elysian’s stuff quite a bit so it feels odd to dislike one of their ales.
The punk rock is loud and fast and I am thankful because it’s helping calm my nerves. I’m waiting for a woman but can one ask a stranger on a date? Isn’t this more of a ‘assurance you aren’t a serial killer’ meeting?
If that’s the case, I should relax. I am definitely not a serial killer. Still, I wish that I had been more…I wish I didn’t have to explain myself every time I wanted to kiss someone. But I do and while that doesn’t make me unkissable, or unkissworthy, it does make me anxious. We are at T-10 minutes and my heart rate is not that of a man who is cool with this.
But I have nothing to lose. When I go home tonight, it will be in the exact same condition as I was when I left. I can’t get any more single. Why worry?