Picture those flapping saloon doors and hear the soundtrack of Once upon a Time in the West. Scary, right?
For years I hid myself behind that joke and the person I was going out with. I’d be the frail woman needing protection. I’d make sure not to be the first one going into any establishment and it was rare for me to go anywhere alone.
Did I really think that there were fights going on inside and that someone would point a gun at me? Hardly….. But it felt that way to me.
Then came New York…..
I was going to visit a good friend. Hang out with her. See the town, and yes, hide behind her. Not that she knew that.
I don’t think many people noticed any of this weirdness over the years, except for hearing the joke mentioned above and maybe a raised eyebrow here and there.
As it turned out my friend was no longer going to be in New York by the time I got there and other than meeting up with some other good friends I had known through the internet for years it was going to be just me.
I actually thought of not going, but I had no reason not to.
I started of gently. On Tuesday morning I bought a fried egg sandwich and a hot chocolate and sat down in Bryant Park. The suffering was quick, but not entirely painless.
After spending the day with two of my lovely friends I was on my own. I started wandering the way I love wandering. No goal, just going where my heart and feet lead me. I ended up in Soho thirsty for a beer.
That’s when I came past the Broome Street Bar. It looked like the place where I wanted to be having that beer, but as much as I wanted to go in, I didn’t want it enough to open the door. I walked on upset with myself for not just going in.
I walked around the block and decided to go back. What could go wrong? I could be received unpleasantly, I could feel unwelcome. In that case I would have my drink and leave. Half hour of suffering tops.
I went in, mentioned I wanted to just have a drink and was seated at the bar. I asked the barman what beer he would recommend. It’s a good trick to get people to like you faster. So I got my Brooklyn Lager.
For a while I just sat there.
Then came a new barman, an Italian businessman, from the Mafia according to himself and a businessman from Washington. We all just chatted for a while, exchanging our reasons for hanging at the Broome Street Bar alone on a Tuesday night. It was fun. We joked around a bit and when I felt comfortable enough I decided to share my problem:
“You know what?” I said to the barman in particular; “I never go to bars or restaurants alone. Not because I mind eating or drinking alone. That is not the problem. The problem is crossing the threshold. I’m afraid of how I will be received and perceived while going into place.”
He smiled at me and said: “It’s not important how we perceive you when you come in, what counts is how we perceive you when you leave.”