The Tiger Behind the Bar

A little unconventional, but it’s something I wrote very recently, so it’s as fresh as it can get! Just a little note: I don’t often have realistic dreams.

I regularly frequent Nightwatch, the bar just around the corner of my block. I’m usually there on Friday nights, waving a triumphant goodbye to yet another week of work. Reasonably exhilarating. Occasionally I invite a couple of male friends to share the joy, or a girl to have nice conversation with. It’s one of those dimly lit places that isn’t shady but just cozy, with jazz music contributing to the perfect atmosphere that is impossible for me to describe. Of late though, every time I’m there I have this strange feeling that there’s a tiger crouching behind the bar. It makes it quite difficult for me to get up and order the next round of drinks, and I’m afraid people are noticing this now. I know that someday I’ll have to stand up, approach the counter, and face my fear.

The more I visited the bar, the more convinced I have become that I saw its ear, or the tail perhaps? I’m too afraid to ask my friends whether they see it too, lest they think I’m insane. I’m not quite sure whether having a tiger as a pet is even legal, but I’m sure it isn’t too much trouble to convert alert policemen into deaf, blind invalids with the help of a little… Something…

Eventually, after a few weeks, I ran out of excuses to not rise and get the next round of drinks, and the portion of me that was proud of its masculinity compelled me to make that fearful walk.

“Four beers, Stu,” I addressed Stewart, the frail bartender who I suspect is gay.

As an afterthought, “Do you guys own a pet tiger?”

At that moment I realized how stupid I sounded. Surely a bar couldn’t be popular if the space behind the bar counter was a tiger’s abode. People would definitely have something to say about that. I couldn’t possibly be the only person who noticed it. Forgive the judgment, but how likely was it that a gay person could share his space with a wild cat? Stu turned around confused and I duly made a swift retreat to my table, in the process flashing him an enigmatic smile to conceal what would otherwise have been construed as laughter at his expense.

Have you ever had realistic dreams, and then confused them with reality in a confounding pattern that makes both your life and your dreams perplexing, and eventually forces you to live in a state wherein you’re not quite sure whether you’ve landed up in a strange reality or a realistic dream? Let me tell you it isn’t a great feeling, especially when you have those moments of enlightenment which make you realize how crazy your thoughts or actions have been. On a positive note, I’m going to the pet store tomorrow. I hope the tiger cubs I saw two weeks ago are still on sale.

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