“They don’t check IDs,” C. said when he asked me to meet him at the bar. He was 22. I wasn’t far into 18. I didn’t tell him I didn’t drink and that I’d never been in a bar.
I convince my friend S. to go with me. She isn’t the type to get flustered if thrown out of anywhere. The December Indiana night is cold. S. and I stand outside the bar, but not too close. “Maybe he’ll come look for me,” I say. S. raises an eyebrow. “Just go on in,” she says.
“What if I get caught?” I say.
“You don’t even drink.”
I am certain I’ll get caught. How does he know they don’t check IDs? What if I get thrown out and he sees? What if I get thrown out, he sees, and he stays with his friends? “I feel sick,” I say.
She rolls her eyes. “You like him. Now’s your chance.”
I sit on the curb and she sits next to me. “I can’t do it. I can’t.”
“You’re such a dork,” she says. “You may not get another chance like this. Christmas vacation is coming-he might get back with her.”
I imagine getting into the bar and sitting next to him. I would impress his friends. He would like me. He would ask me out on a proper date. “Maybe he’ll come outside.”
S. shakes her head but doesn’t complain about sitting in the cold on a dark street. No one comes out of the bar, but a car filled with young men cruises by. They shout. The guy in the front passenger seat moons us. Because of the bar’s blue neon sign, S. starts singing Blue Moon. The guys are gone and we laugh.
I am certain that C. is meant to be my first love, but I stand up. “Let’s go home,” I say.
“You sure? You don’t just want to look in and make sure he’s there?”
I do want to see him in there waiting for me. “No,” I say, and I think that if I were a confident woman of the world, I’d go into the bar and he’d be impressed. Instead, S. and I go back to the dorm.
I do this a lot with my writing–do I want to go there or not? Several scenes I have cut and then pasted back in. I worry that it will give people the wrong impression. Or I worry that I can’t pull the scene off and that I’m out of my depth. Or I worry that while I think the scene is unsettling, no one else will–like thinking getting into a bar when underaged was huge and everyone else thinking nothing of it.
Have you ever written something that cost you a lot to get on the page, only to have your reader yawn? What was the big deal?
Another thought for this story–how does technology play into plot? How might my story here have ended had we cell phones? “I’m outside. What do you want me to do? …”