I walked into the crowded dance club and headed to the top of the stairs. I was confronted by a pall of stale smoke and sweat as I made my way through the mass of people. Primal beats surged through the floor, urging dancers into the night. I was not in the mood for dancing on this night and I turned left towards the bar. I was disconnected from the uniform mass of revelers that shook and writhed on the dance floor. I had been depressed lately and hoped to escaped my mood in the anonymous atmosphere of the night club. I could already see that this wasn’t going to work. the celebration around me only served to increase my sense of isolation. I hoped a drink might help do the trick. I turned to away from the bar with a fresh glass of Captain and Coke and scanned the room for a familiar face, hoping I would find someone to console me. I needed another point of view on what this life was all about. A dance club was an in appropriate place to search for the meaning of life, but I had to make due with what I had. I was beginning to feel the warmth of the ice cold rum when I spotted my friend Joe. A ray of hope was cast upon my inward gloom.
I had known Joe for a few years and had always seen him as very self-assured. Others would describe him as arrogant and conceited and a little too cocky and all of these assessments were closer the the truth than not. He got his reputation by always being outspoken- there was one thing he could always be counted upon for and that was his opinion. That was what I was looking for as I went to greet him. With the preliminaries out of the way and a couple more drinks ordered, Joe noticed there was something up and asked what it was. I told him that I was feeling a bit down and asked him what it was that kept his world spinning around. Without skipping a beat he answered, “Booze and broads, baby!” A smile spread across his face. I was sure he was joking and let him know that my question was at least half serious. He reiterated, “Booze and broads, Billy, liquor and ladies, these are the only things us guys have to keep us from going completely insane.” His arms outstretched to indicate the surroundings.
I could have let it go at that, but the drinks were making a case on the argumentative side of my personality. There must be more to it than these two things, something else must work to keep him on an even keel. I was looking for an answer with more meaning and thought and I told him as much. He let me know, “Believe me, it may sound right off the top of my head, but I know what I’m talking about.” He took another sip of his drink. “A guy’s gotta have an even balance of each or he’s just not gonna be happy.” I couldn’t take him seriously but he had my interest and I decided to take the other side of the argument for a diversion from my thoughts.
I wondered aloud about art and personal expression and how they fit into his theory. He laughed sardonically. “Artists. There’s a case of too much booze and not enough women. They think too much and then drink to distract themselves. They’re too messed up to get any women and none of their animal needs are satisfied. That’s their personal expression. It’s pent up animal aggression, they just don’t know what to do with their time.” I was incredulous, that was the great works of art and literature throughout history could be contributed to sex-starved alcoholics was too much.
I could see I was getting nowhere with the concept of are and changed the subject to love. At this he laughed again. “Ain’t no such thing as love, Billy” he pontificated with a cocktail held in one hand. “Love is just an arrangement a man makes to keep himself in women. But now he’s got a problem, if he wants to keep the woman he’s got to give up the booze, cause no woman is gonna put up with a drunk for long. Now that leaves him nothing to keep his mind off life.” Joe wasn’t done yet.”So now a guy’s got this woman and he’s used to being fed. He’s like a damn kitten! He’s got no more thrill of the hunt, no appetite, he’s not hungry anymore. His natural instinct to go out and get is stifled and now all he’s got is time to be lazy and think about life. I’m gonna tell you, a thinking man can never be happy.” With this last, he finished his drink.
Joe could tell that this conversation was not helping my mood at all, he clapped hand on my shoulder and said,”Lighten up Billy, you’re thinking too much. You don’t have to look no further than what’s right in front of you.” He nodded in the direction of the crowd as he went to the bar for a couple more drinks. I sat alone at the table in the corner of the room. I looked at the people around me, drinking and dancing. It was getting towards the end of the night and couples were starting to form in the club. I was unconvinced. I had always believed one could never think too much and I was determined to find a chink in Joe’s armor.
There are two subjects you are never to bring up in barroom conversation and those are politics and religion. I was ready to break one of those rules.Joe set the drinks on the table. Letting curiosity get the best of me. I grabbed the cat by the tail and brought up religion. He stopped me short, “Don’t even go there!” He sneered, “God doesn’t even enter into this, God was invented by a bunch of guys that didn’t drink and never got laid.” Joe was flushed and ready to go on. “Take the bible, now there’s a sad group that wrote that shit, lonely guys trying to think of why they ain’t havin’ no fun, and they want the world to live like them? Right?” There was nothing I could do to stop him now and I wasn’t in the mood to try. “God don’t exist and even ife he does he ain’t gonna do anything for you ’til after you’re dead, no thanks, I’ll take mine while I’m still alive and can enjoy it.” I could see why this subject is considered taboo. Joe was getting worked up now, “This idea that you will be rewarded for living a boring life, you just know it was thought of by guys that never did have no fun and never got laid. No, there’s no God, this whole existence is one big accident. Man was never supposed to think, it doesn’t serve any purpose but to complicate things. Now we just have to make the best of it.” I had nothing more to add. Making the excuse that I had to use the bathroom, I left the table. I stopped by the bar and paid for another round of drinks to be sent to our table. Then I walked down the stairs and left the club behind me., feeling worse leaving than I had when I entered.