“Are you done with the beer list?”
It was a question a man with a graying beard in a corduroy newspaper cap leaned over to ask me as we sat with one seat between us at the bar in Mother Bunch. The bartender overheard and grabbed an extra. He made a quip about how we shouldn’t worry and they had extra.
“You should have less than required so people are forced to interact.”
I was sincere. The man, whose name turned out to be Chris, was alone at the bar and was on was focused on his phone for the ten minutes I was there. Two spots down, another gentleman was texting non-stop.
I was 20 years their junior. Neither of them knew each other. Chris was intrigued. We started chatting about how I will go to a bar by myself every now and then just to talk to strangers. Chris, Robert, and I were three guys drinking beer and eating (wings for me, pretzels for Chris, and Mother Loaded fries for Robert) alone on a Thursday night. Why shouldn’t we talk?
Robert’s wife was working late so he decided to stop into the brewpub in the Garfield District of Phoenix because he loves beer and his wife is more of a wine lady so he never gets to go. Chris was in town from Lake Tahoe on business.
As for me? I’m a soon-to-be 29-year-old who has just been on edge all week and needed to not be in my apartment. I tried to text numerous friends, but they either didn’t respond in time to be my escape or were busy. Why shouldn’t I be able to go to a bar by myself? It’s sad? No… what’s sad is laying in bed in the dark for the fifth night in a row watching a TV show I have seen three dozen times (Friends). That’s not to say staying in and being a homebody is bad. It’s not. But for me, it pushes me to the brink. I’m an overly social creature who craves contact. If none of my friends are available, why can’t I find a friend for the night?
Robert left pretty soon after, but we crammed in a lot of topics ranging from healthcare in Germany (Chris lived there for two years) to net neutrality. I got on my high horse about how the president’s attack on the media and persistence to claim only one outlet is sufficient is how totalitarian regimes start. This didn’t start a political debate, but a philosophical one. We chatted about sports, music, careers, and so much more before Robert left.
He was soon replaced by Stacy (no ‘e’ – I even asked) who played community college basketball in Michigan and is currently remodeling a home in the Encanto District. Again, a solo stranger was welcoming into being friends for a night. She likes Billy Joel. We all bonded over “Sweet Child of Mine” even though it came out two years before I was born. “God, you’re young,” Chris said. Stacy was closer to my age. She proclaimed she doesn’t like hoppy beers now that she’s older. “Thirty-two is old?” Chris scoffed again.
All of this happened over the course of three hours on a Thursday. The Celtics were playing the Sixers. The Cowboys were playing the Washington football team. We checked in on the score, but mostly focused on the conversation with each other. I wasn’t worried about Tinder or Bumble. I posted a bit on Snapchat, but my phone remained anonymous to me.
It was a refreshing reminder that we’re all just people. Some of us (like myself) like social interaction. However, we’re all buried in our technology nowadays. Sure, I’m making gross generalizations. But come on… we rely on a 6-inch computer to find love or figure out if a restaurant is good. We can’t communicate because we ask Siri what the answer to a debate is.
More importantly was that I wasn’t fixating on so many of the negative topics that have been dancing around my brain. Work, love, friends, family, money. Over and over for days. Gone. I came back home, crawled into bed. Wrote this in my underwear.
Go out, put your phones down, look at a stranger, and say, “My name is Adam. What’s yours?”
Only don’t say “Adam.” That’d be weird. Unless your name is Adam.
PS: there were only 6 Adams in my high school graduating class. I counted.