Labour in Vain
The night I don’t remember so well. Probably warm. They all were. Late summer, possibly early autumn. Definitely dry. We were a few beers in, had hopped from bar to bar and had hit maybe our 3rd or 4th. It seemed earlier than it was. This was due to our late start. The 5 o’clock beers at work had slowed our progress and our deadline was stretched. We’d listened to the 4th repeat of our favorite Friday afternoon album by the time we decided we had enough and emailed out our scrappily compiled work. Like most instances in this situation I had given up much earlier than he was willing to.
The first few bars - and beers, for that matter - were non-eventful. It wasn’t like the night we walked down the oddly quiet Brunswick Street behind the girl with no pants on. Or the night we somehow conned our way into free pizzas (or the following night where we never received our paid-for pizzas). For our next bar, we settled upon entering what might be described as a dive bar. Quickly we made acquaintances. It could generally be assumed that when out drinking with him, one would meet people in rapid succession. Beers were exchanged, stories recounted and our tight nit group of increasingly drunken strangers plotted our next move.
Unexpectedly – the night still felt young – the bell rang. The charming past-time delivery of the unwanted announcement didn’t cushion the blow for the dwindling crowd. We made our dash for the bar and our last drinks, ensuring plenty to go around for the cool out-of-towners, our new drinking companions. We settled upon our next destination just as the bar staff somehow, expertly or possibly accidentally interpreted the mood of the crowd with a single tune. The simultaneous hit of the first chord and the commencement of the lyric “Hey Jude…” put everyone into action. I instantly began recalling my much younger years with whoever would listen. Explaining my tendency to play a water damaged warped recording of this very song while cycling a miniature bicycle in circles around the family billiard table for hours, like some sort of mad genius, contemplating his latest work of art, stroking straight his crazy electric-white hair, occasionally stopping mid-cycle to scribble a word or two of inspiration. Though, I was not this person. I explained this without so many words.
By the time I’d finished my nostalgic impulse the drunken crowd had unified. The biker-looking pool playing patrons had replaced their cues for pantomime microphones. The bartenders - resting their towels on their shoulders – had joined, arm-in-arm, with their remaining clients. The heavily tattooed roller derby girls inadvertently spilt pints of pale beer all over each other and anyone around. Our 6 person strong crowd was part of the larger circle, the only circle, swaying in perfect unison from side to side reciting; “Nah, Nah- Nah-Na-na-na-na” in drunken tone.
I thought to myself - I will remember this for the rest of my life.