I am not funny enough to come with an actual joke to follow the title of this post. It just seemed like an appropriate heading for today. Perhaps subconsciously I chose it because it feels like I’ve been in a bar for a while now. Not that I am intoxicated or anything, but my mind feels foggy enough. I find myself often surrounded by other men; men that I know for a fact I want to be nothing like, men of the world. Men who hope at the bottom of their glass they find the direction in life that they are looking for. Yup, I can see it now. I am in bar when enters three professionals, one right after the other. They aren’t at the pub for answers. They are here for an experience… Maybe there is more humor in this title than I originally thought.
Since I already have committed the first section of this post to a metaphorical scenario of my current situation, I guess at this point it would be best if I were to just run with it.
I imagine that the first man to walk in would be the teacher. With a wave of his hand he would greet everyone as he enters. Only a few of the worldly men would return his genuine salutation, although everyone there knows his name. Slowly, he works his way from table to table, talking to each individual. Some shrug him off, others nod incoherently as he speaks, and the rest overt his probing questions about their day with small talk. Once he has made his rounds, he pulls up a chair next to me and sits down.
“Hello there,” he says as he thumbs through a menu.
“Hi,” I say, unsure why he chose to sit right next to me.
“So what do people drink around here?”
“Um, I don’t really know.” I say as I shift uncomfortably in my chair. “I usually just get water.”
“Water?” He squints his eyes, and his lips curl up in disgust. “You know, people order water for 1 of 3 reasons.”
“Is that so?” My eyes dart from him to my half-full glass.
“It is so,” he laughs. “I guess I’ll go with a Teacher’s Tonic,” he says enthusiastically as he thumps the menu with a finger.
Then a little bell rings at the front door as another professional walks into the bar. Surprisingly, he looks identical to the teacher. They have the same hair, the same height, the same gait in their walk and even wear the same clothes. I didn’t notice the teacher’s clothing when he first walked in, because it was his personality that stood out the most. The teacher is so jovial, kind and selfless. This new visitor, was indeed identical to the teacher, but I noticed his clothing first. I suppose his personality does not appear as extroverted as the teacher’s. In fact, the only noise he made when he came in was the bell that rang once he cracked the door open. Rather than greeting everyone like his identical twin had done, he simply looks for the teacher then comes and sits down next to us.
“What do people drink around here?” The newcomer asks.
I know instantly that there is more to this question than just the options available for a beverage. “Um,” I hesitate to answer. “I usually-
“Water?” The twin finishes for me.
“Yes, How did you know?” I ask.
Without a word he points to my half-full glass. “That is your glass is it not?”
I nod my head yes, slightly embarrassed.
“This is my third.” The teacher said. “He is a counselor.”
“Nice, to meet you.” I said. “I am sorry if I can’t give you a better recommendation other than water.”
“Don’t apologize for that.” The counselor laughed. “You know,” he leans in over the table as if he is about to tell me a secret.
“People order water for 1 of 3 reasons.” I said quickly to interrupt. A smile involuntarily breaks my lips apart.
“Hey, this guy is good.” He laughs and elbows the teacher beside him.”
“He is alright,” the teacher agrees. “He fits in at this table. He is practically one of us.”
“Sure does. We just need to find him a proper drink.” The counselor said as he picks up a menu. “Let’s see,” he said aloud as he fingers his lips. “I suppose there is a lot to choose from, but I’ll have a Counselor’s Craft.”
“May I make a suggestion?” A quite voice asks from behind.
“Hey!” The teacher and counselor both cheer.
“There he is!” Said the teacher.
“I was wondering if you were going to show,” adds the counselor.
I turn in my chair to see another man in a suit standing directly behind me. There was no telling how long he had been standing there. It surprises me to see him, but I am surprised even further when I realize he looks just like the teacher and the counselor.
“Mind if I join you?” The triplet asks.
“Why not?” I say as I make room for him to pull a chair up to our table.
“This is our other third,” the counselor said proudly. He doesn’t come out much.”
“Which is a shame,” the teacher said. “He is always fun to have around.”
“I am an author,” the triplet said as he sat down.”I apologize, but I couldn’t resist.”
“Resist? I ask. “Resist what?”
“The discussion the three of you were having on your choice of beverage.” The author pulls out a note pad and pen as if he is about to take the minutes of our table talk. “Oh, I’ll have an Author’s Ale,” he announces to everyone at the table.
“Yes sir, 3 reasons.” The teacher continues as he lays the menu on the table. “There are 3 reasons why a man chooses to drink water. The first reason may be that you are just simply thirsty. Perhaps you are exhausted at the end of each day and you just simply crave nourishment.”
“The second reason,” the counselor chimes in, “is that you drink water because you simply wish to not offend anyone. Perhaps you understand how simple it is to ruin a perfect opportunity to connect with someone over something as trivial as a beverage. It is more important to you, to be able to sit down and feast on the presence of others rather than the food on your plate. You don’t want to burn any bridges because someday they may need to come to you for aide, or you may have to run over to them for help.”
“Finally,” the author clears his throat and timidly speaks. “The third reason a man wishes to only drink water day in and day out, is simply because he is too afraid to try something different.”
“Let me ask you,” the counselor leans even further across the table. “Are you happy with your water.”
“I… ah- I wasn’t going to complain about it.” I said.
“Not going to complain about it?” The counselor repeats for clarification. “Perhaps you are too content?
“Too afraid?” The author suggests.
“Too dependent?” The teacher asks as he shrugs his shoulders.
I look around at all of the other men in the bar. No one is paying much attention to our conversation. They continue drinking, falling further from reality as they work to the bottom of their glass in search of their enlightenment.
It feels so awkward around the three professionals, that I decided to do the same. I tire of thinking about what drink I choose and why I continue to drink it. Envy also settles in as I wish that I too could just pick a drink as easily as the professionals. With a quick turn of the glass I drain all of the water into my mouth. Just like all of the other men in the bar, I instinctively look at the bottom of my empty glass as I hold it over my mouth. I drop the glass, astonished at what I see.
In the reflection of my glass I see myself. It is then I realize how much I look just like the triplet professionals. How silly of me. It has taken me all of this time to realize what everyone in the bar probably noticed the moment my first look- alike came and sat beside me. I could enjoy any one of the same beverages they have chosen for themselves. There is no need for me to change who I am. I just need to choose.
I slowly set the glass back down on the table and find three prepared mugs before me. A Teacher’s Tonic, a Counselor’s Craft, and an Author’s Ale
“Choose one,” they all say in unison.
Carefully, I eye each mug and think of all the flavors they offer. I roll my fingers across the table top in triplets as I consider my options. They each look so appetizing, but the water I know and have come to depend on is so safe.
“I don’t know,” I say defeated. “I just don’t know.”