I sat there at the bar counter, watching my bartender lady move with the beats of the Indie music playing in low volume. She was opening beer bottles, mixing fruit juices and alcohol deftly to make cocktails and mocktails, pouring the drinks into glasses, and serving them.
That was an art.
She was a piece of art.
I sipped the Cranberry Crush mocktail she made for me. Not that I liked it. In fact, I hate it. But every time I go there I ask for the same drink for a reason.
The first time I went to that place and stood there at the bar counter, she asked,
“What (would you like to order)?”
“Whatever mocktail you prefer, just give me that.”
And she made me this. Since then I’ve been asking for the same drink. That means I’ve been having the drink I hate, twice every week for the past three months.
Frankly, with the slightest hope that she’ll start noticing me for always ordering the drink she prefers, and she’ll start liking me for that.
Yes, that is absurd. But people in love often do absurd things.
It’s not that I haven’t had the guts to talk to her. Tried many times to start a conversation.
But she is the main bartender there, and is busy all the time.
Moreover, she is a person of few words. She uses only words such as ““What?”, “Right”, “Yup”, “Nope”, “Here” etc and leaves us to assume the rest.
In fact, the longest conversation I ever had with her goes like this:
“What?” and she started mixing the cranberry juice and lemonade. So, she has started noticing that. Yippee!
“Usual.” Then everything went silent. I started again, “So… Have you been working here for long?”
“All right… Ummm… Well…”
“Here,” she placed the tall glass of Cranberry Crush in front of me at the bar counter, paused, and continued, “Here’s your drink.”
My heart screamed out, “OMG she talked to me in more than a syllable. She talked to me in a full sentence!!!” Finally we had a proper conversation. I guess.
Let me tell you something. She is a legend. A girl becoming a bartender in India, that itself is legendary. You wouldn’t be able to imagine what she would have gone through to reach this place, and what she would have gone through even after reaching there.
She is the kind of person who definitely has a lot of interesting stories to share from her experience. From her eyes you know that she could be a great storyteller, if only she talks in sentences rather than monosyllabic words.
Then I know she is a badass. She doesn’t care what others think or say. She does what makes her happy and cuts out all the other crap.
I also know that she is the kind of lady you are ready to wait for every day. The kind of person who comes back home late every night, tired after a long day’s (rather, night’s) work, and you would feel privileged to cook dinner for her, and give her a shoulder massage. Every single day.
I’m sure there are many people in that bar who idolise her and have wild fantasies about her.
I even started measuring the character of people I meet, in terms of her. “How cool/hot/badass/confident is that person against my monosyllabic bartender? Half? One-fourth? Negligible?”
On one end of this spectrum you have people like RG. You wonder why they even exist. The world is way out of their league. On the other end you have my monosyllabic bartender. The world is such a filthy place for an amazing person like her. She is way out of the world’s league.
“Probably you should ask her out,” said my best friend. He knows very well about my obsession for her. He didn’t believe I left my favourite hangout place just to be a metre or two close to her and watch her do her “thing”.
That was until he came with me to the pub to meet this character I’ve been talking about, day and night. Eventually, he started developing a crush on her too.
But how can I ever ask her out? What if she freaks out? What if she is already in a relationship? The worst of all, what if she is straight? All these questions dropped like bombs in my head. Couldn’t think of a smooth way to handle that situation.
“Sweetheart, you gotta do what you gotta do,” he encouraged. Finally I decided to ask her out.
The next day, a Saturday afternoon, I walked into the pub alone and sat at the bar counter (as always). She was there, doing her “thing”. I pretended to be staring at the television behind her like I’m very interested in cricket, so that she wouldn’t think of me as a creep. (Now, that was smooth!)
“What?” and she was about to take the cranberry juice.
Gathering all the courage I asked, “Coffee?”
“WHAT?” That was not the usual tone. It meant, “Are you kidding me?”
“Nope…” she paused, “No coffee here. Irish coffee?” she gave a sultry smile and winked. “Or mocktail without ice?”
Damn. She thought that I was asking if they served coffee, and that too at a pub! Adding to it was the mild flu I had had for about a week. She would have thought of me as a moron. Why did I even do it that way? Daaamn!
MESSED IT ALL UP. THERE IS NO ESCAPE FROM THIS MOMENT. THERE IS NO RECOVERY FROM THIS EMBARRASSMENT.
I should have never asked her out in the first place. Probably this was the universe’s way of saying that. After all, she is way out of my league. She is way out of anyone’s league. If at all a mortal is ever able to steal her heart, (s)he would be the most blessed person on earth.
I finished the drink, paid the bill, and walked towards the door; looked back once again. She was still doing her “thing”. And all of a sudden, she looked at me. I briskly walked out of the door.
A year and a half has passed after that incident. A lot of things happened in that period of time. I moved to a different city, moved in and out and into relationships, and settled down. In short, life moved on.
Today again, I sat there at the bar counter, watching my bartender lady move with the beats of the Indie music playing in low volume. She was opening beer bottles, mixing fruit juices and alcohol deftly to make cocktails and mocktails, pouring the drinks into glasses, and serving them.
She looked at me doubtfully, and after a while, came towards me.
“Hey! Long time!”
“Hi. Yes, it’s been a really long time,” I said. “How have you been?”
“Good,” she gave a sweet smile, then looked at my partner sitting next to me and asked, “Girlfriend?”
“Yes, we have been committed for a while now.”
“Cool! So, Cranberry Crush and…?” she turned towards my partner and asked, “What?”
“One KF Strong, please.”
She opened the beer bottle and placed it on the bar counter. Then she started mixing the cranberry juice and lemonade. I felt elated and excited that she still remembers my FAVOURITE drink.
My partner leaned towards me and whispered, “Is she the one?”
“Yes, she is the one. She is my Cranberry Crush…”