7 Reasons That I Hate The Man At The Pub
It was all going so well. All I had to do was go to an unfamiliar pub and meet four friends that were there waiting for me. But there was a man at the pub who cocked it all up and made everything infuriatingly difficult. Here are seven reasons that I hate him.
1. The Man At The Pub Is In My Way. Exiting the bar with a pint in my hand and entering a narrow, dimly-lit anteroom with tables and stools situated haphazardly on either side of barely delineated central walkway I walked past a couple of tables and spotted my friends seated approximately two tables away, ahead of me and to the right. I moved toward them squeezing between the stools on the cluttered walkway. But there was a problem. There was a man also squeezing his way through the cluttered throng of drinkers, tables and stools in the opposite direction, heading toward me. Fairly soon he was in my way.
2. The Man At The Pub Moves In The Wrong Direction. As an Englishman I did what came naturally and stepped to my left as I approached him, in the knowledge that when he moved to his left, there would be sufficient room for us both to pass; assuming that we turned sideways, squeezed in and stopped breathing (because everyone stops breathing when performing this sort of manoeuvre, even though there is no earthly reason for doing so). But the man didn’t move to his left, he moved to mine (his right). He was still in my way.
3. The Man At The Pub Is Stupid. No, that’s uncharitable. He’s not necessarily stupid, I thought. Perhaps he hails from a country where they drive on the right. Perhaps he doesn’t drive. Perhaps he’s drunk; he does, after all, have a pint in his hand. I did what any other sensible person would do, given that he was to my left. I stepped to my right. But at the same moment that I moved to my right, he moved to his left. We had both moved but were both still blocking each other’s path. Bugger.
4. The Man At The Pub Is Still In My Way. Oh God, I inexplicably thought, to a being that I don’t believe in, this could go on all night. This could be one of those occasions where I and a random unwitting partner selected purely by proximity and happenstance perform the tentative and ungainly dance that I know as The Get-The-Hell-Out-Of-My-Way-And-Stop-Shuffling-From-Side-To-Side-In-Front-Of-Me-You-Simpering-Ninny. A blushing teenage girl and I once performed this dance on a narrow pavement outside of the Lewes branch of Waitrose for a full fifty seconds; replete with breezily uttered apologies, good-natured rolling-of-the-eyes, winsome shrugs and staccato bursts of nervous laughter. It was excruciating. I wanted to die. I wished the ground would open up and swallow me (which would actually have solved the problem). There was no way I was going to repeat that again. I resolved not to move any more this time. “Sorry”, I said to the man with the pint, instinctively, at the same time as he said “sorry” to me. Ah, I thought, he is English after all.
5. The Man At The Pub Is Mysterious. Then something else hit me. This man looked vaguely familiar. We regarded each other for a split-second, but I wasn’t quite sure who he was. It was one of those moments, when, in the back of your mind, you know that you know a person but for whatever reason – usually to do with seeing them outside of their usual context – you can’t quite place them. This was perplexing.
6. The Man At The Pub Is Confused. I noticed that my friends – who were frustratingly still ahead of me and to the right, as the man and I were going nowhere, were all looking at me – two were pointing – and roaring with laughter. They were hysterical. I failed to see how two grown men trying to get out of each other’s way in a pub was quite that funny, but then I noticed something quite odd. Although my friends were seated ahead of me and to the right, the sound of their laughter was coming from behind me and to the right. I turned to face the sound. My friends were sitting there. I turned back to face the man blocking my path. Then I realised why he looked familiar. He was me. I was the man in my way.
7. The Man At The Pub Is A Laughing Stock. It turned out that some bright spark had come up with the brilliant idea of covering the entire back wall of a small, dimly lit room with a mirror to make it appear lighter and airier and the customers appear stupider. As I turned and walked toward the table where my friends were still laughing uproariously, the sniggering barmaid was busy collecting glasses there. Feeling rather embarrassed and wishing to downplay the act of foolishness that I was slowly realising I would never, ever be allowed to forget I sought a crumb of comfort from her. “That must happen all the time,” I stated blithely to her. “No.” She replied rather haughtily, “that’s never happened before”. With that, she turned away and walked out of the room, back to the bar, from where we could hear her sobs of laughter for many minutes. The evening didn’t go well. Still, as long as I don’t write about it, no one else will ever know. Oh. Bugger.