A Girl at a Bar

Comments 65
Kind of like this. Only next to me.
Kind of like this. Only next to me.

It was to be a different kind of Valentine’s Day.

I was okay with that.

My five-year-old son had a special event scheduled at his karate dojo. Something just for kids.

Maybe I’ll meet some other parents.

I had been looking forward to it. It’s fun to be a parent at little-kid things.

But as I signed a permission slip for my son to take part in the evening’s scheduled activities, it dawned on me that this wasn’t something parents would be attending.

I thought it was curious they would schedule something on Valentine’s Day. But when I realized they did it intentionally to give adults some time to do adult stuff while the kids had fun together in a safe location, it all made sense.

Well, shit.

I decided right away I’d go have dinner somewhere. The dojo is located in a strip mall a couple suburban towns away. There were a couple pubs and restaurants nearby.

So, I parked the Jeep and walked into an Irish pub I’d never been in before.

The Bar Crowd

It was an interesting crowd.

I’m like Jason Bourne when I’m sitting alone, only instead of being a badass prepared for anything, I’m really just creepily digesting everyone’s conversations and making judgments about them based on very little information.

The bar was U-shaped.

To my left was a couple I assumed to be meeting for the first time. They seemed an odd pair. Like they’d decided to meet for drinks on an online dating site.

Three stools to my right, in the middle of the U, sat a man by himself who walked in not long after I did. He immediately ordered a pint of Fat Tire—the same beer I was drinking—and a shot of Jägermeister. I was at the bar for nearly three hours. He never took that shot while I was there.

There were two intoxicated couples and one guy who boasted about how he dumped his wife at home to come drinking with his friends. They sat directly across the bar burning money on losing attempts at Keno.

A male gay couple came in and sat in a booth on the other side of the room. A couple guys who looked like they were really into science-fiction and comic books came in and sat between the guy who wouldn’t take his shot and the drunk Keno players.

Those guys LOVED the song “Sail” by AWOLNATION. It’s probably the fifth-best song on the album.

And back to my right sat two couples in a booth. One of the guys was older than my father and was with a girl younger than me. And yes, they were a couple.

What am I doing wrong? Honestly?

Everything, probably.

The bartenders were sweet. Two girls. One was gorgeous. The other was not. The one who wasn’t flirted with me all night.

I didn’t mind.

I left the bar and walked down to the karate place to check on my little man. It was shortly after 8 p.m., and the pizza delivery person was JUST getting there as I walked in. Dinner for the kids. My son is usually in bed at this time.

Whatever. Special occasion.

I chatted with a couple staff members. Everything was under control.

Screw it. I’m going back to the bar.

I sat down in the same stool.

I smiled at the bartender who thought I’d left for the evening.

“Another Fat Tire?” she said.


A couple minutes later, a pretty blonde girl walked in and sat right next to me.

“A Miller Lite and a Fireball,” she told the bartender.

“Nice work,” I said, holding out my glass.

She clinked it and we drank.

She asked me to do it again when she took her shot.

“I was supposed to be out with my mom,” she said. “She dumped me.”

“Dumped by your mom on Valentine’s Day? Brutal,” I said.

She was only in town visiting.

She lives in Venice Beach, Calif. A self-employed action-sports photographer. A very talented one. I checked out her work.

She just travels around, sometimes internationally, shooting cool stuff.

Very pretty.

Very funny.

Very engaging.

Not quite an hour later, I didn’t want to leave.

But my son always has, and always will, come first.

“Devon, I’d love to stay and get silly with you. But I gotta go be a dad. It was a pleasure to meet you.”

A smile.


And I walked out, leaving that lovely stranger to have whatever adventure the night was going to deliver her.

And I smiled.

A chance encounter.

A simple thing, really.

But a big thing.

A reminder that life just happens.

That plans are great. Expectations are fine. But life just happens anyway.

The beautiful stranger chose me to sit next to.


And someday, there will be another one.

65 thoughts on “A Girl at a Bar”

  1. Life is always good for a surprise. To me it seems, the more we appreciate it, the better the surprises. 😉

    My surprise just now was that music link. Don’t know how well known this band is in Germany, but it kind of slipped my attention until today.

    Much love,

    1. Thank you, sir. Usually when I’m out in places like that, I’m with people, so I don’t often have encounters like that. It was pretty sweet.

  2. OK Matt…. Not sure if you read my blog, but you know me by my comments to you. For some reason I like you, so don’t take offense. I am sure your followers will think me an ass which is perfectly fine with me. Matt if you are going to be out in the world, it is time you learn to do it correctly. Quit being a polite wuss. Everything you did was a mistake except for going to pick up your son. Pay attention big boy, but have you ever heard of romance? It was Valentine’s day you idiot. She was going to be with her mom that stood her up…What bullox to just walk out on her and leave that full moon last night hanging there without you two under it ……Had you looked that woman in the eyes and said; “I didn’t expect to meet you, but I would like to give you two choices. One, either follow me while I pick up my son, put him to bed and we can spend some time together at my place, or give me your number and I’ll get a babysitter for next time you are in town….that is the assumptive close…..no matter what, you would have known if she was interested in you. You dolt, you looked her up online, sitting in front of your computer and now wondering, “what if?” Life is too short and now you say there will be another stranger that will sit next to you? Bullshit….you will act the same way…forget sweet. You want a woman, take her damn it.

    1. I would completely agree with you if the goal was to have sex with this girl I would likely never see again.

      I did not take offense. Most people feel like you do.

      I’m just not one of them.

      1. Matt…..Did I ever mention SEX ? You are being a dolt….. I did mention ROMANCE …. Walking under the moon….. I NEVER SAID BANG HER .. You, my friend are Christian and I am Cyrano and you just don’t get it. Taking a woman to kiss her…. walk with her…. drink with her …. hold her hand …. if not, enjoy yourself looking up her bio online.

        1. She lives in California. Which is REALLY far away from where I live.

          As a general rule, I prefer women who, geographically, will be able to come over for dinner next Tuesday. *shrug*

          1. You said she was meeting her mother who stood her up…. Her mother obviously lives where you live…..meaning she will be visiting mom a lot……*shrug*

          2. I think you and I might have different preferences in our relationships, from a geographic and frequency-of-visit standpoint.

            And that’s perfectly okay.

            I’ll be happy to share my preferences.

            1. I’d really like her to live close. Because if I like her a lot, I’ll want to see her a lot.
            2. I’d really prefer NOT to like someone who lives far away where I won’t be able to do those things.
            3. Casual sex is not something I’m totally against. And that would have been the only good argument for being more forward in my efforts to see her more or again. But I need to know, like, trust, respect the person I might sleep with. One hour wasn’t anywhere near enough time to make that evaluation.
            4. I don’t invite women to my house when my kindergarten-aged son is with me.

            I do apologize for misunderstanding you. And I apologize for disagreeing with the parts I did understand.

          3. Well the bartender you thought was less attractive fits that criteria….. so many rules….so many judgments……. just to walk under a moon with a woman….youth is wasted on the wrong people.

  3. Sail is one of my four year old son’s favorite songs but definitely not the best an that album. AWOLnation is great. I saw them in concert last spring & they were so, so good live.

    Pleasant chance encounters are always nice but I kind of agree with that other guy that commented above….
    says the girl who can’t even bring herself to strike up a conversation with a stranger. I get all nervous, awkward, & tongue tied. It’s not pretty.

    1. Don’t agree with elbrookman.

      It’s unhealthy. Elbrookman would have me try to sleep with this woman I’m never going to see again.

      And I only want to sleep with women I CAN see again. 🙂

      1. I didn’t mean you should try to sleep with this particular woman or women you won’t see again. That certainly is unhealthy and generally bad behavior (especially with your kid in the house).
        I meant that sometimes not being “the nice guy” or “polite”, as he put it, and taking charge of the situation might be the way to go. Like I said before though, I personally am terrible at talking to strangers.

        1. Well, I certainly agree with that. I tend to require liquid courage for such behavior. And I tend to NOT consume much when I’m driving my son around. 🙂

          I was truly kidding when I said not to agree with elbrookman. I am under the impression he was less amused with the exchange than I was.

          1. Liquid courage does help.
            I recently joked with a friend that she & her boyfriend were going to have to set me up on some practice dates and then go with me to help me get over my inability to talk to strangers (or at least strangers who might be potential dates).
            Well I really didn’t mean that you should’ve tried to sleep with this woman. I know that’s not what you’re about but I do agree with some of what he said.
            I think he thinks you would’ve been even more amused with the exchange had you taken it to the next level romantically so to speak.
            That sentence oddly reminds me of the movie Dodgeball.


    Also, this: “I’m really just creepily digesting everyone’s conversations and making judgments about them based on very little information” = My Life.

      1. WHATTTT!!!! No. I did not.
        I don’t know what’s going on with my all-caps here, I guess you just make me feel all shouty.
        Now I must find this razzing…

  5. The hard part for me is walking into the bar alone. You did that, so good for you. Maybe the universe is rewarding your courage, or maybe it was just dumb luck. But it sounds like the interaction propped you up and that’s always a good thing.

    But how sad that we’re always victims of that attraction thing. We want the pretty/handsome people instead of the ones who are smitten with us, who may not be so pretty. We never get to know them inside because that little spark is just not there.

    I left a perfectly wonderful man once and married one who ended up being perfectly awful, just because of the attraction thing. I still think about that.

  6. Nice encounter on the ideal evening to have one. Nice encounters don’t always have to lead to a relationship. You did right by being respectful of that girl and for not pushing the envelope. Now she and you can both remember “that special person” on Valentine. Trust me when I say this, women appreciate men who respect them, especially when nothing long term could come out of it. You’ll have your true Valentine, when it’s the right time.

    1. I tend to agree. This was supposed to be a reflection on unexpected chance encounters happening. And knowing more will happen down the road.

      I appreciate the note. Hope you’re having a great weekend. 🙂

  7. Though fortune favors the bold, some things unfold like flowers and hatching birds, they happen when they happen.

    Your evening sounded like a promise, like you saw a rainbow after a long rain.

    And thank you elbrookman for the reminder that it takes boldness when the time is right. Hopefully right before I meet Mr. Second-Chance, he’s dosed with this necessary boldness, and me too, and if not, booze baby booze!

    1. Thank you, Dorothy. Just a subtle reminder, I think, that life happens regardless of our plans or expectations.

      And it’s a good reminder. 🙂

  8. There absolutely will be another one, Matt. 🙂 Glad you had a nice encounter and a little spark on Valentine’s Day! Those photographers are always an interesting bunch. 😉

  9. There was something kind of whimsical about this post. I’ve been reading your blog for a bit and haven’t commented. But this one made me stop and do so. So yah. It was whimsy. And walking into a bar by yourself is just ridiculously hard so snaps for that.

    1. Thank you for saying hi. I really appreciate it. Although I’ve never found it particularly challenging to walk into a bar alone. I would much prefer that to a table for one at a restaurant, for example.

      Appreciate this note. Thank you so much for reading. 🙂

  10. I just happened upon your blog and I sorta agree with elbrookman. I understand not wanting to get involved with someone not geographically close, however, asking for her number is not a marriage proposal! Chance encounters can lead to great things! She’s self-employed and travels , which means she can as easily work from Ohio as California! Or would you never consider moving from Ohio? It seems to me you had 2 opportunities to make a connection and you chose not to. (Including the bartender)

    Maybe your inability to connect has more to do with your idea that you don’t measure up vs others thinking that you don’t! And connecting with someone doesn’t mean sleeping with them right out the gate! You have a lot of soul-searching to do my friend!

    1. oh and then i just remembered once i was driving after work to an office get together and i got stuck in bumper to bumper traffic, going both ways It was hot and humid and i was driving with the window down and in the lane going the opposite way a guy was doing the same.

      We happened to look at each other at the same time and i admit, dude was hot. I expected him to look away and i would do the same. But he didn’t. he smiled at me and it wasn’t the polite smile of passing strangers. He SMILED! really smiled like he wanted to know me and i smiled back. And then he opened his mouth to say something and the traffic moved in front of him and he had to drive…

      sigh.. made me feel good though

      1. lol i hibernate but then again according to my friends im always upto something over the weekends, but i dont often get chance encouters. far and wide hey. far and wide

  11. The phone number, Matt!! I’m kidding of course, what the hell do I know? I mean you said “nice work” which is a hell of a lot more than I could have said. I would have sat there wanting to say something but nothing would come out. At least that’s the way I see it but I’ve been married for 18 years, what the hell do I know? It’s a process.

    BTW I’ve been waiting for a post like this from you. Truth is I need to see this kind of post from you. Sorry man I don’t mean to rush you or anything but you know I have to know there’s something after this horrible time in my life. I want to see you get the gold, the babe who’s really into you. No hurry though, it’s a process.

    1. 🙂

      Thank you. I certainly appreciate all the dating advice from everyone, but that wasn’t the time or place, and it certainly wasn’t the person.

      She was great. We talked quite a bit and had I not had parenting obligations, perhaps a lot more.

      I’ll keep you apprised of the dating landscape. Step 1 — Revert your brain back 20 years. That one will take a while. :/

      Appreciate your note, sir.

  12. That sounds like a perfectly sweet encounter. And one best left as it was. Happy belated V-Day!

  13. Dude! Way to go at striking up and keeping the conversation going! That’s awesome! And what a great way to kill some time while waiting on your son. I’m glad that you ended up with some pleasant conversation to pass the time, and excellent practice for next time! 🙂
    I’m not a people person, so I’ll let the conversation fizzle out, cause I just don’t care – or keep asking question that would have the best Spanish Inquisitor applauding me because I’m trying to keep the conversation going. Needless to say, I’m awkward…

    1. I hope I didn’t give the impression I’m a bad conversationalist. OR particularly shy.

      I am not.

      What I am horrible at, is approaching women in some strange environment like a grocery store or library or whatever.

      But if I’m properly introduced? Or in this case, next to someone who is energetic and engaging and equally by themselves on Valentine’s Day in some random pub?

      I’m not so bad.

      1. I got them impression that you were good at it – I was commenting that I was so impressed because I completely and totally suck at it!

        You are inspiring! (And that’s about as mushy as I get, so just take it! )

  14. Enjoyed your portrayal of the other people in the bar. I too, am a creepy conversation digester. People are endlessly fascinating to me. Sometimes I think I could get a job standing in lines and running errands for busy rich people. Between watching people and reading my Nook, I would never be bored.
    What this post really made me think about though, was, is there really such a thing as destiny? Is there really a woman out there you are meant to be with and when you meet her you will know, things will click, etc? If she had been the woman at the bar, you wouldn’t have left without getting her number Or, is that just b.s. magical thinking? Has my mind been poisoned by too many chick flicks?

    1. I don’t believe in fate. I do believe in lovely chance encounters. I don’t believe in trying to date women who live 2,000 miles away. I do believe I will meet someone wonderful one of these days. 🙂

  15. Pingback: The Art of Dating Discrimination | Must Be This Tall To Ride

  16. Wait, who’s the girl in the photo?

    What kind of Jeep do you have? (if that sounds creepy let me know, it’s just that I have a jeep (’00TJ, you can see on my blog) and it’s just what I ask when other people who have jeeps…)

    Great convo with bar girl by the way.

    1. Just some random girl on the internet who looks a bit like the girl I was talking to in the bar.

      I have a 2014 Grand Cherokee. It’s boring. Awesome. Phenomenal in the snow. But boring.

      I’m not a real Jeep guy like you. *hangs head in shame*

      *half-heartedly gives Jeep wave knowing it won’t be returned*

  17. Late to the party here, and apologies in advance for the waffly post but this is comforting. (Oh, and hi, Matt! It’s been a while, but tonight I’m having a nice hour or so of catching up on your blog.)

    Yesterday I ended up being kind of marriage-suitability-interviewed, totally out of the blue, by a stunning friend of a friend, whom I’ll called Rae.

    Young (29?), slim, amazing hair, works in fashion, marketing and video, could easily be a model…

    Anyway, I had gallantly volunteered to take her to look at a car she was thinking of buying after hers died last week, because I know things about cars these days.

    I was surprised, while driving her back to town and a café where she planned to buy me lunch to thank me for my assistance with car stuff, to hear her ask me if I ever wanted to marry and have kids.

    Well, hello!

    That’s a bit of a novelty because, apart from being unwisely besotted for a year with a lovely lady who just isn’t ready for anything post-divorce, I’ve hardly been into anything remotely romantic or date-like in years.

    Rae hasn’t really paid me any attention on the occasions we’ve bumped into one another in the past, so I’d expected her to be really stand-offish. Maybe it helped on this occasion that I’ve recently spent the odd hour with her best friend, who was rooming until last Christmas with my new female friend and colleague,* whom Rae also knows. Maybe Rae had asked these two if she’d be on safe ground having me escort her to the car place, and they both said, “Cookiejezz? He’s lovely!” (My colleague certainly would have!)

    Long story short, I knew I couldn’t offer her what she’s seeking. She needs a dynamic guy who’s stable and is making his way in life, and is looking to start a family soon-ish, and meanwhile I’m still trying to shake off a long-term illness and even get back into earning my living.

    But it was lovely to have this expression of interest from an attractive, interesting woman who probably has to fight off unsuitable men with a stick, and lovely also to have a much better conversation than I’d anticipated, with lots of common ground, including our faith and church choices, creative stuff (both into screenwriting; she more seriously/professionally), and so on.

    It’s nice to be reminded that we have value. And maybe I’ve made a friend.

    She bought the car, anyway. Job done! :o)

    * She’s lovely, but it’s platonic.

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