Legless in Vancouver

11 11 2009

My wife and I had a drink at a pub. We sat at a table near a couple in their late 20s who were standing at the bar. The pub had started emptying out for a football game, the patrons fueling themselves up, to avoid the high price of suds in the stadium. Or maybe just to get a head start, so that the obscenities they yelled within could be more colourful than their more sober counterparts.

Anyhoo, the pub was almost empty, except for my wife and I, and the couple standing at the bar. They were oblivious to us, and it was clear that much consumption of alcohol had already taken place, judging by the volume of their voices and their angles in relation to the bar. We ordered, and proceeded to have a quiet conversation, which had to gradually increase in volume to compete with the couple.

They were not really a couple, we gathered, but friends or co-workers. He was doing a hilarious (to him) impression of the woman’s boss. It was a fully immersive impression: not only the voice, but the body and extremities all contributed. It seemed that her boss was a loud-mouthed, surly drunkard. It was like he was actually in the room with us. The man still remained oblivious to our presence, as did the woman, mesmerized as she was by this performance.

In fact, as they spoke, were almost 6 inches apart, the correct distance for manager-to-umpire communications. It would have made sense to move to another place, but it might break the spell, so we remained. We could just about make out what we were saying, in any case. I think at one point my wife said that we should call 911 and then make sock puppets. But I might have misheard. I made a mental line in the sand: if they started removing articles of clothing that covered those regions that we normally point and laugh at, or start chanting, we would exit immediately. We soon grew used to the sporadic quality of the outbursts and, like a complicated dance, we wove our speech around it. “YOU WILL OBEY WITHOUT QUESTION,” was one such outburst. “THE BEATINGS WILL CONTINUE,” was another.

Then a bout of low muttering would ensue, as they both leaned in towards each other conspiratorially. We paid attention to their antics peripherally, alert to any movement that signified danger, such as open flames, or the wielding of a mace. At one point, the male left to use the washroom. When he returned, a suspiciously short time later, he voiced his difficulties in locating the washroom. But did find it, apparently. I imagine he stumbled into the kitchen and, finding it brightly lit and mostly white inside, took care of business. I might have done the same. I think that the annoying aspect of their activities lessened, as we slowly became intoxicated ourselves. In fact, I felt myself moving in sympathy, the stiff-legged gait he adopted whenever he was her ‘boss’, or the high, wheedling voice he made when he aped a co-worker was echoed in my own speech. We stood up to go, the couple were so engrossed in their alcohol-fueled exhibition, that they did not notice us. The arm flailing continued without pause.

I am sure that if a mannequin was put in place of that woman, he would continue his drunken charade, pausing only to dump the chaser down. It was quite remarkable that he was still upright, but the angle of his body in relation to the bar had increased alarmingly. The last thing we saw him do was hike his pants up high, stamp his foot, and point his finger like Hitler doing a Powerpoint demo. We had left just in time.

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