“Anyway, that’s life. There’s nothing you can do about it. It is what it is.”
I didn’t even hear the first part of what he said, but those last three sentences were enough to make me let out a weak sort of exasperated snort.
I shake my head and look down at the drink napkin that I’m unconsciously tearing into tiny pieces with my right hand as my left hand tightly grips a glass of Sierra Nevada.
I study her face as she talks to someone else to the left of me. I’m not tuned in to their conversation but I can make out every third word. I study the way her eyes move, I watch the corners of her mouth and I follow the subtle movements of her hands, almost as if I’m looking for something that I know isn’t there.
I glance up at the TV on the wall behind the bar. It’s Game 7 and the Giants are down to their final three outs. Their season will be over in a few minutes and a handful of people will leave the bar and wander out into the bitter late-night San Francisco chill.
Right now it’s an October chill, the kind of chill that sweeps in from the bay without any warning and serves as a harsh reminder that the summer is over for good.
Then it will get quiet. It’s quiet now, but a different kind of quiet; quiet in the sense that there is no truly distinct sound permeating the air. Music is playing, but it’s lost amid the constant hum of voices that mix together, hanging in the air above our heads like a low cloud covering.
I take the tiny pieces of damp bar napkin, crush them together into one tidy ball and push it aside. Almost automatically, the bartender flings another one in front of me and I place my drink down.
I look over my shoulder at her again. There’s eye contact this time; brief and broken up by a laugh and a look down at her drink. She continues her conversation, but not before tossing one more lingering look in my direction.
I search for something in that look, anything that can untangle my insides that are currently balled up like that soggy drink napkin, but I come up empty.
The Giants are down to their last strike. There’s not much time left for them. A single clap comes from somewhere in the back corner of the bar. It’s abrupt and it echoes for a brief moment before slipping back into the negative space that exists in between the different layers of the bar room din.
There’s not much time left for me either. God knows I’ve spent enough time at this bar; wasted hours that have gotten me nowhere but back here again.
I run through a few scenarios in my head, but none of them feel right. They seem backward. They seem hazy and twisted in the wrong direction, like a weird dream you try to remember in your first few waking moments.
Without turning my head, I shoot another glance over to my left.
Was she ever even there?
At this point, it really doesn’t matter. It’s much too late in the game to start second-guessing.
In her place is an older guy with gray hair spilling out of the back of his weathered Giants cap, staring with an unbreakable gaze at the game playing out silently on the screen in front of him.
Down in the count 1-2, Buster Posey rips a single into right field off the St. Louis closer. Suddenly, the tying run is coming to the plate.
The game will go on.
It will go on, both there and here, as a bitter mist settles over the bay.
Next to me, I can hear my friend: “Anyway, that’s baseball. There’s nothing you can do about it. It is what it is.”
I didn’t even hear the first part of what he said, but those last three sentences were enough to make me crack a weak smile.
Somehow, I can already tell that it’s going to be a long night.
So I order another beer.
For more from Rob…