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Proj Ridic: Victory is Being Hit On By an Old Guy

So, after the epic failure of last weeks’s Project Ridiculous (and subsequential decollation of my hair,) I decided to hold off on planning a challenge for this week. Not that I wasn’t still going to do something terrifying this week. I just didn’t want to necessarily plan anything. I’d leave it up to the universe to give me an opportunity to step up.

And damn if the universe didn’t give me a doozy. It presented me with a fear that I hadn’t even acknowledged yet: the fear of sitting at the bar by myself without looking at my phone.

It was Wednesday, and once again, Kyle and I were skiing. Well, trying to, anyway. With the temperature up around 40 and intermittent rain the conditions were complete and absolute shit. We knew that this was likely going to be the case, but with season passes we figured it didn’t cost us anything but the gas. So we made a go at it. And failed miserably at it. It was like skiing through mashed potatoes. I actually felt my body travel faster than my skis on more than one occasion because the snow just grabbed my skis and wouldn’t let go. After five runs, I was ready to call it a day.

Kyle, on the other hand, had something to prove was holding out faith for the far side of the mountain and wanted to give it a go. I was having none of it, so I told him to go ahead and do a run and I would meet him inside. He agreed, and we split. I went inside, peeled off my many wet layers, packed up my gear, and waited a bit to see if Kyle would appear. But after 20 minutes, I’d had enough; the lodge smelled like wet dog, the cafeteria chair was hurting my ass, and a person can only disappoint the Cut the Rope monster for so long. I didn’t know how much longer Kyle would be out; some runs can take as long as 20 minutes to get to the bottom, and he might have decided to go more than once. And there’s a lovely bar at the end of the lodge that has Shock Top on draught…

So I left him a voice mail that said, “Hi honey! I’m at the bar!” And I went to the bar.

It was empty when I walked in, save for the two bartenders who were re-stocking the bar. (It was 2:00 in the afternoon, after all.) I sat down at a spot at the bar where I could see the door and also have a view of the bottom of Kyle’s run, and ordered myself a Shock Top. Then I did what every single person human being who finds themselves sitting alone does: I pulled out my phone. Not that I had anything I needed to do on my phone; cell service is practically nonexistent at the base of the mountain, so it’s not like I could check my email or Twitter. I just wanted to look like I was important and not feel awkward sitting alone.

As I started to pull my phone out of my pocket, (no small feat when it’s in the deep, tight, zippered pocket of my ski pants,) I caught that scared, unsure feeling in my throat and realized what I was doing. I was trying to protect myself from feeling afraid to be sitting at the bar alone. Something about looking around the bar and potentially making eye contact with people is to acknowledge that I am alone, which is frightening. But sitting there playing with my phone says that I’m too busy to bothered by anyone else; it’s safe. I know I’m not alone in feeling this way; let (s)he who has never pretended to text in an elevator or sitting alone at lunch huck first squirrel. But this adventure is supposed to be about getting outside of my comfort zone, right?

So I put my phone back in my pocket. I sat at the bar, alone, with my Shock Top.

It didn’t kill me. That is true. It was, however, rather awkward. The bartenders were busy and didn’t really seem in the move for conversation, so we all did each other the kindness of not making eye contact. There were two tvs on, but one was tuned to ESPN without sound and the other had on the Weather Channel, so it was hard to pretend that I was engrossed in either. Mostly I just looked around at the empty bar and out the window at skiers paddling for the gondolas, and tried very hard to act nonchalant, like I chill alone at bars all the time.

After 20 minutes or so people started trickling in. Surprisingly, this eased some of the tension. It broke that almost silence and took the imaginary focus off me and my beer. Surprisingly, I relaxed. An older man, probably early 50’s, approached me with a smile and asked me what beer I was drinking.

Unfortunately for him, he walked into the bar about three steps ahead of Kyle. I thought this might deter him, and even tried to let him save his pride by pretending I hadn’t heard. Luckily, his pride apparently didn’t need saving because he not only repeated his question but proceeded to chat with the both of us for a while. We stayed a while after he left, chatting with the bartender and razzing a drunk guy for saying that he’d gone down a run that was a “blue round one.” And then we went home.

Honestly guys, it wasn’t that bad. Awkward, yes, but I think that’s because it’s not something I’ve ever done before. Usually if I’m sitting at a table alone, even if someone will be joining me shortly, I immediately pull out my phone, but it was kind-of exciting to leave myself open to the world. I’m possibly going skiing by myself on Monday, and I may even take this a step further and eat lunch without a book. Because who knows who else might find their way into my world!

And because that shit didn’t kill me. I know, who knew?


{ 3 comments… add one }
  • Kate February 4, 2012, 10:57 am

    Confession: I had no fucking clue people pretended to text on their phones when they were uncomfortable until just a few years ago. No clue. I had been many other places alone and looking around noticed others “texting” and always wondered why I never seem to text as much as everybody else. For real. Sitting alone sans phone doesn’t bother me, I prefer watching people alone (provided people don’t come up to talk to me as chit-chat isn’t my bag).
    But eating without reading something? I find this incredibly difficult. But I think it’s because I do that at home; even this morning over breakfast The Rock Star surfed the ‘net and I read the paper.

  • allison February 4, 2012, 12:13 pm

    Go girl! That’s on my list of things to do – go to a bar and NOT have a book, notebook, or phone to make me look “occupied.” As far as going out to LUNCH with any of those things…maybe I’ll wait and see how you fare before I give it a shot. Not sure I’m that brave.

  • Lauren February 4, 2012, 8:20 pm

    I’ve lived in California for a year, and finally just last week I went surfing by myself at the local break. Before then, I had always gone with Kirk. Luck for me, it wasn’t packed. (I worry about accidentally stealing waves that aren’t mine.) The waves, though, were HUGE. I couldn’t make it out past the whitewater, and in the thrashing my board gave me a bloody nose when it hit me in the face. I felt like a bit of a badass. Surfing injury! Ha. Despite that, it was exhilarating to go out for a surf by myself.

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