Beatrice refers to Nicole Bocce as my "work twin" because we were both hired into Kate St. Johns' Branch of the provincial government at the same time. In August 2012 though, Nicole was debilitated by a meningoencephalitis infection which kept her house-bound for months. She's much better now, back at the office, but because we were unable to celebrate her August birthday when it happened, most of our Section went out last Friday night.
We started at the Central Social Club where Angela Ahm introduced us to Guinness and Amaretto, and Marion Fox and I got to re-tell our story when Nicole expressed her impression that we might have known each other from before I joined the government. Angela and Nicole monitored the story carefully to ensure that it didn't swerve into argument over the correct interpretation of the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution.
Not long after Nicole's husband arrived, we moved the party to The Atlantic Trap & Gill on the unfounded rumour (which I helped perpetuate) that it was his absolute favourite bar in the whole world even though at one point he didn't seem to be able to recall if he'd actually been there before.
Sarah Scott-Leo, Nicole and her husband, Angela, and I settled into the Maritimes-themed pub at a long, giant cribbage board-table that could accommodate a stream of extra partiers. Beatrice Cassady Adams showed up for a while. Nicole's Section Head joined. Angela and Sarah departed. Griz joined! Griz and Beatrice departed. Sam Gunsch* joined! Nicole and her husband and Section Head departed.
So now it's just Sam and me, and we are quickly descending into our standing argument about whether or not we should assume that a sufficient proportion of Alberta society is going to transform into Noam Chomsky-type citizenry and restore democracy to the province, or if we should accept that the majority will simply behave according the behavioural economics of Homo Economicus.
The Atlantic Trap & Gill, as alluded to earlier, is Edmonton's best Newfoundland-themed pub. Nets, floaters, and lobster traps hang from the ceiling. The walls are painted billiard-felt green and adorned with all manner of coastal paraphernalia. Flags of Canada's Atlantic provinces form the proscenium of the stage where the band, Dirty Seas, was playing.
The bar was about two-thirds full of a casually-dressed University crowd. Sam's rural Alberta wear made him look like an outfitter. And I was dressed for the Central Social Club: grey pants, black shoes, black shirt, black suit jacket.
Sam and I argued with the usual passion of people who argue for a living.
I haven't posted on a night out at the Central Social Club in mid-December where I was schooled in the strategies of bar interactions and learned that people do things for reasons different from what they seem on the surface.
Caylee was a dazzlingly cute, saxaphone-blonde girl who might've been 5 feet tall. Maybe. She carried herself with all the brassy, flirty confidence that many pretty but short girls have, when they have gotten used to standing up for themselves or having to command attention.
She sat down at our end of the giant cribbage board table and said, "When I saw you dressed like you are," pointing to my clothes, "and you dressed like you are" pointing to Sam, "arguing about something, I had to come over to find out what it is."
Eventually, I will learn to do this: to separate my reactions
from my observations
. Or more truthfully, I will learn to both observe and react.
Because this "just reacting" is going to get humiliating.
Caylee sat down with Sam and I around the end of the Trap & Gill's giant cribbage board table, forming this tiny triangle of people, and Sam and I did exactly what two men do when they are alone with a dazzlingly cute girl: we began to compete for her attention. Each of us tried to swing Caylee to our perspective, and Caylee did a fine job of keeping the pot stirred.
And then Caylee's plainer-shyer-but-still-nice girlfriend sat down with us. We welcomed Nikki to our friendly now-square of male competition.
And then, after a short while of this, Caylee dropped what Beatrice Cassady Adams refers to as the oh-by-the-way-I'm-married-non-sequiter
where, despite not fitting at all into the content-flow of the conversation, someone has the irrepressible need to announce that they have a spouse. At which point the square collapses again into a triangle, only now Nikki is at the apex. And it's only at this point that the slow laggard, Observer Myles decides to join the party, and he was laughing disparagingly at Reacting Myles for being a dimwit and never wondering why these girls would join two men in a bar in the first place.
To be generous with Reacting Myles though, the girls' execution of the bait-and-switch gambit was masterful. The other effort back at the Central Social Club seemed downright dangerous due to the fact that the target of the play was coming out expressly to meet with the bait, and the breadth of differences between the bait and the switch in that case was too wide to be tolerated.
Dirty Seas third set started up, and Sam had already complained that he found the band too loud. I'd been in bars since the end of the work-day, nearly 8 hours earlier, so followed Sam's lead when he shook the girls' hands and departed.
But I find myself lamenting the missed opportunity to confirm this analysis by asking for Nikki's number and then suggesting a debrief.