I heard the buzz; my eyes darted to my phone. A numbness crawled over my body as my eyes registered the name. Knowing if I opened it, every emotion I worked so hard to suppress and every emotion I so carefully bottled up would be dredged to the surface.
Disregarding the sane pleas from the cognitive side of my brain, I read it, “At Pete’s Tavern. Springsteen’s ‘Because of the Night’ is playing ha. I think you live close to here now..?”
Maybe because the cut was still fresh, or the masochist inside me needed to be fed, I let my mind decipher what the text really meant. My mind dove, headfirst, and imagined what he was really trying to say...
I was sitting in Pete’s Tavern the other night – I think you live pretty near there now, right? It’s strange to me that I don’t know what’s going on in your life anymore. But I made that call. You threw out a Hail Mary pass, and fuck did I let it fall.
Anyway, Springsteen’s “Because of the Night” came on the radio. It was like the bartender pressed pause on the noise level of the room. I started to hum along to the song, instinctually. All I could think about at that moment was your face. And, how if I was with you, you’d be in the middle of telling some grand story from your day – never sparing a detail, and oftentimes going into too much detail – and you’d pause mid-sentence. I’d watch as your eyes widened and then darted up to the ceiling, and you’d point up. I loved that you always attributed songs playing from the sky – almost like they were ordained by God himself.
I’d kick back and take a long swallow of my Makers on the rocks – you’d comment on how it had the “big whiskey” ice cubes; it still makes me laugh that you loved those. I could anticipate what was next. You’d look around the bar in pure shock that no one was excited as you that this song was playing. I don’t think even Springsteen himself gets as excited as you when that song filters through the sound waves.
You’d proclaim with intensity – to anyone who would listen – that Springsteen did not, in fact, originally record the song. He gave it to Patti Smith. Turned out it would be her only Top 100 song, ever. You’d then go into detail about how “Blinded by the Light” was also written by Bruce, and not Manfred Mann. You’d say this all as a hazy smile took over your face, almost as if you were recalling one of your favorite memories. You’d blink and snap back to the moment and start to blush slightly, aware of how the music once again lead you down the rabbit hole.
I was there on a date. I’m not sure if I should have disclosed that or not. But, yeah, I was there on a date. We haven’t been together for some time now. So, I figured it's fair game. I imagined telling you that. You’d curtly smile and say something sickly polite like, “Neat.” I think part of me took her there hoping to run into you or just see a glimpse of the new life you’ve built. To be honest, I didn’t listen to a tenth of what she said.
For the official record, you could be neurotic as hell, which use to make me mad as hell, but when it comes to matters of the heart, you’re strangely secretive as hell. No yelling. No texts containing passive-aggressive paragraphs. Not even a trace of “fuck off” sentiments when we ended things. You never took your post-breakup emotions out on me. If I know you, and I think I’ve earned the right to say that I do, you let them fester. You put on your “cool girl” hat and pretended like it didn’t matter. You’d never clue me in on how much I hurt you. You’d think I’d revel in the satisfaction as if I was some kind of sadist and would get off on that.
I am not as much of an asshole as you think; I just wasn’t ready for what you wanted. It doesn't make me wrong, you know. And, it doesn’t mean that I don’t miss you. That I don’t miss us.
So yeah, I was at Pete’s Tavern the other night – I think you live pretty near there now, right?
Haley is a copywriter living in Brooklyn and writes short stories in her free time. She believes in the power of words and the almighty power of pepperoni pizza. Check out Haley and her creative partner’s book here.