I walked into the cigar bar by myself, Esquire magazine in hand. I was a little nervous at first as I walked up to the bar to order my cigar and scotch. I took a glance over all the bottles on the back wall and determined to drink Laphroaig 10 year on the rocks. As the bartender was pouring my scotch, I took a look through the cigar collection and picked out La Aroma de Cuba (because fuck Fidel Castro). The bartender cut my cigar (straight cut because I’m not a savage) and handed it over to me and I took my place at a high top table with leather chairs. Solitude.
I had never been one to go out on my own and drink or smoke. Typically, I sit out on my porch and play music while I lounge because 1. Easy alcohol access and 2. I can play whatever music I want. Bars can especially become expensive when it comes to scotch and cigars, so I knew I was going to drop about 20-30 bucks just on myself that night. I went in confidently without any reservation on how much money I would spend or what would happen. I simply went in to be.
The way I ended up there that Saturday night was because everyone else I knew in the area was busy. I shot out about five or six feeler texts to people who I knew might be in town, but none were, much to my chagrin. I had gotten a Publix microwavable chicken marsala and some lettuce to cut up into a salad. I finished my dinner and watched “Friends” blankly on my TV and decided I needed to do something. Esquire had just been delivered in my mail box, and I had previously visited the Havana Cigar Bar in downtown Gainesville. I really enjoyed it and thought “What the hell, why not?” So, I made it my mission to go to that cigar bar that night by myself.
I hate the stereotype of the lonely guy at the bar. The “A” word gets thrown around way too much with men like that. I sat there, alone, drinking my scotch and smoking my cigar, reading about Michael Fessbender (great interview, by the way) and in between bouts of the FSU fans yelling in the background, I found a sense of peace. I was oddly in control and completely out of control of my whole scenario, and it was the most beautiful two hours of my life. I watched around the bar and saw people interacting: some guys getting shots for some girls, FSU fans losing their shit, Gator fans sulking and ordering shots, and I sat there simply being an observer of all this.
I know what you’re thinking: “TRJ, this sounds pretty fruity/lonely/pathetic.” I’ll say this; don’t knock it til’ you try it.
I really loved being there by myself. In the hustle and bustle of my daily life (work, sleep, going on disparaging dates, non-stop thinking about the checklist of things I need to get done that seems infinite) it was like time stood still for a moment as I sat there reading my magazine and smoking my stogie. I thought about how I used to spend my Saturday nights: getting hammered, sending feeler texts to find a girl to sleep with, fail miserably, masturbate and pass out. There I was: no plan to get drunk and actually driving home pretty sober. It wasn’t ruckus or cantankerous in anyway, and I certainly wasn’t having any sex that night, yet I was at peace.
Being an extrovert, I really prefer being around people, but sometimes I just fucking don’t want to deal with anyone. This night was one of those nights. Not having anyone coming up to me and bothering me, even with people around me, was glorious. I even got to the point where I just put my phone away and didn’t even look at it. That was even better. I was alone in the great expanse of the universe, but feeling all of this within the smallness of this bar. I get so used to checking my phone whenever it moves, and not having to look at it even once gave me room to do so many other things. Sure, I only left it alone for two hours, but it was totally worth it.
I think everyone should try this out. Find the place you’re most comfortable with, bring something with you to keep you occupied for a period of time, and just go by yourself. Starbucks is an easy go-to if you want to do work on your laptop and you don’t have wifi in your apartment because you’re poor (like me). Maybe you’re a movie person and are comfortable seeing a film by yourself. I like the bar because I can get alcohol and, if I have the desire, I can go and talk to some of the people there. Whatever it is you prefer, there is a situation where you can go and be alone in public. .