FebruaryMagazine

a joke

A man walks into a bar.

Scanning his surroundings, the man takes an empty seat near the end of the bar. The bartender comes over and asks the man what he’d like to drink. The man says he’ll have a water for now because he’s meeting someone in 10 minutes and he’d prefer to order when his companion gets there. The bartender says, “Ah, gotcha,” and pours a water. The bartender asks the man if he wants ice, and the man replies that he does not want ice. The man checks his phone after five minutes and scrolls down Facebook to see nothing of interest. Closing his phone, he looks over at the piece of local art for sale on the wall and wonders how much it’s being sold for but he’s nearsighted and he can see the price tag but he can’t read the numbers because they’re small and about six metres away. The bartender approaches the man once more and asks if he’d like to order anything else. The man stirs his straw and says he’s all good. The bartender chuckles and says “Alright buddy. Let me know if you want me to change the channel.” The bar TV is playing tennis, and the man thinks tennis is an alright sport because it tests strength, dexterity, and one’s understanding of Newtonian physics; however, the man thinks that tennis falls short in its elitism — tennis lessons are really expensive so the barrier to entry is high, according to an article he skimmed one time. The man turns to the bartender and says he actually enjoys tennis because it really tests players’ dexterity, so he’s happy with watching the current channel. The bartender agrees, and says he wanted to put his kids in tennis, but lessons were too expensive. The man nods solemnly. At this point, he’s been sitting at the bar for eight minutes, and so he checks his phone again. He receives a message from his en-route companion announcing that they are going to be late, as the LRT escalators are broken and coincidentally, so is the LRT, so they are going to be an extra 15 minutes because they have to take the bus instead and the busses in this city are poorly organized. He replies: “Haha, that’s public transportation for ya. See you soon.” He gets up to relieve himself. In the bathroom, he notices that the bar has those new screen advertising things that flash a number of ads, which prompts the man to wonder if people of his generation are more prone to blindness. He returns to his seat to find the tennis game at deuce. He scratches at the hard water residue on the side of his glass as he waits for his companion.

A woman walks into a bar.

The man recognizes his companion from the four photos on her dating app profile. She smiles, introduces herself, and takes the seat beside him. The bartender gives the pair menus and asks if she’d like a drink. She says yes. The man is internally thankful that the woman isn’t twitchy like the last girl he met off of the app. The bartender asks the woman if she wants ice, and she replies that she does not want ice because she has a sensitive upper palate. The bartender, a former sheet metal worker who opened the pub with his savings, isn’t sure what she means but serves her a lukewarm, ice-free glass anyway. The pair survey the menus and the man asks the woman if she likes music (Yes), if she knows how to play an instrument (Do piano lessons in elementary count?), and if she’s wearing contacts (Yes, I’m nearsighted. Oh, you are too? Haha, when you wore glasses in school, did you have transitions lenses? I did and I’d come in from recess and the lenses would be jet black and they’d remain jet black for probably 45 minutes into class and it was like I’m wearing these lame sunglasses purely because my parents didn’t want me getting ocular melanoma!) The man is happy because he thinks that common interests and experiences are important for building relationships, and so it’s a good sign that the woman likes music and is nearsighted. The pair continue to ask each other questions about their upbringings and interests until the bartender returns and asks them what they’d like to drink. The woman orders a liqueur with some kind of fruity garnish and the man gets a Guinness. They sip away and the bartender returns a couple minutes later to take their food orders. The bartender returns with two plates of food 11 minutes later. The man notices that the fries that came with his order are a little bit overdone — enough that he could ask for new fries but he doesn’t end up asking because he decides it’s not worth the trouble. The night goes on and the man and the woman consume their final servings of carbs for the day, and they laugh at each other’s exaggerated anecdotes. They decide to go back to the man’s place because they both enjoyed each other’s company. The man says he lives only a few blocks away so they don’t have to take on the “beast that we call public transportation in this city.” They both laugh. The man pays the bill and tips 18 per cent because he’s feeling good and he hopes that maybe the bartender will be able to send his grandchildren to tennis lessons someday. The man and woman take up a less-than-brisk pace and find themselves at the apartment door 10 minutes later. They go up and eventually have sex. The next day, the woman leaves early because she starts work at noon and wants to shower beforehand but she makes a point of saying she really enjoyed her time last night and she hopes they see each other again. The pair plan to meet up the next weekend. The next weekend, they go to a movie about a small number of people trying to take down corruption that references World War II quite a bit but neither of them know much about World War II so they enjoy the movie for its saturated visuals but not its textual meaning. The man and woman go on a few more dates and eventually decide to call their relationship a Relationship. They meet each other’s friends and family. They move in together and start to notice that they actually disagree on a lot of topics but not enough topics that they need to break up. They purchase home cleaning supplies together and merge bank accounts. The man gets promoted at work and the woman discovers that she has a passion for creating holistic home remedies out of plant oils, and opens an Etsy shop to sell such items. The man and woman, now on the cusp of ages 28 and 32, respectively, look into purchasing a home and, after looking at a few places, choose a small place in a suburb that was built right before the housing crisis in 2008. The man and woman start a family by having a child, and then another child. They put the older child in tennis lessons but he quits when he’s 15. The woman creates savings accounts for the children so that they can go into post-secondary. The children grow up and one of them goes to the University of Alberta and becomes a scholar in the Peter Lougheed Leadership College.

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