Friday night at a hotel bar

It’s a writer’s paradise for characters

I’m not a night person and even less so a pub person, except perhaps for a Sunday lunch, for what is usually an incomparable steak.

But tonight is different.

We’re meeting people who have come up from Melbourne for a wedding, people we haven’t seen for a long time.

I’m not a conversationalist, so I leave them to it, and go on a character hunt.

And the pickings are rich.

My first victim, If she could be called that, is the one I call the lady in the red dress.

She’s on the other side of 40, with a sort of earthy attractiveness about her.  The first thing to notice, for her age, the dress is too short.  Maybe that’s the fashion and I’m just an old fogey, but it does say something.

She’s definitely single, or perhaps a player, certainly a flirt.  She holds the stage, and talks with her hands, and those around her are captivated.

The untidy hair loosely collected in a hair tie tells me she carries a sort of messy but not messy look, and I wonder at the state of her residence.  It’s a leap I know, but small signs indicate bigger things.

I’ve counted two glasses of beer in an hour and a half, so she is sensible, aware of her surroundings, and of the three men she has spent her time with, it’s hard to pick a winner.  It’s not hard to captivate a loser.

Next comes the party girls three 20 somethings dressed to be noticed, and overly animated and screams look at us.

Oops, they just parked themselves nearby with the very expensive and exotic-looking matching cocktails.  There’s the obligatory selfie together, and then a casual look around to see what’s on offer.

I don’t think there’s a lot, but my standards and their standards are most likely miles apart.

Hang on, news flash, they’re a part of another group nearby, several older office workers who could be the so-called chaperones, or just having a quiet drink before having to go home to any of, a family, a car, an empty flat, or blessed relief the week is finally over.

Next door to us is a family group, the kids are teens, and I’m wondering if the boys are boyfriends.  The mother is an older, very attractive version of the daughter.

Perhaps it’s an experience for the girls because I don’t see a man who could act as a husband unless it’s the second time around with a younger version.

Why not.  Men do it, why can’t women.  But out on the town with your teenage children?

The bar’s entertainment … a single guy playing the guitar, along with backing music that makes him sound better, but people seem to agree that it’s good but not brilliant.

He’s singing covers, which may have made him just so so, perhaps if he sang his own material it might take him to the next level.

But, who cares, no one seems to be listening, the noise level of what seems like a thousand concurrent conversations drowning out any appreciation.  

Of course, it’s headache-inducing because he has the volume so high, just to get over the ambient noise, and in doing so, it takes away the intrinsic musicality of it all, and it’s just more noise to contend with.

I suppose it’s better than canned music.

OK, news flash, the red dress had moved down the table and settled on a prospect, about 15 years younger.  Her animation has intensified, and yes, there’s the casual brushing against him, like a cat marking its territory.

The night is young, and it’s looking good.  I’m not going to pretend I have given a passing thought to spending a few minutes with her, for character creation purposes only.

And yes, we now have a sing-along.  At half-past eight, it’s a bit early for the crowd to be too exuberant.

A squeal shatters the, well, not silence, and is one of the groups pretending like someone had dripped ice down the back of a dress that has no back, the next phase of attention-getting.

And, attention directed their way, they do a little dance, skol the drinks, and with all eyes on them, head to the bar for round two, or is that three.  Several others join them, but they don’t need to do the dance.  The lack of clothes more than makes up for the squeals.

If these are the modern mating rituals a lot has changed in the last 50 years.  Or perhaps not, I’m just too old to remember.

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