“All the world’s a stage, And all the men and women merely players.”

Last night, my sister and I sloshed into The Manx and sat in that little hallway next to the bar – where people get served through a window. We were at the second table from the end. There was a hetero couple at the end table and a lone man on our other side.

They were engaging. At first I thought they were just quite friendly. But it seemed a bit off. They were always ‘on’.  They were always talking about things that people have Strong Feelings about. They were always talking in voices loud enough for us to pay attention to, no matter the subject. There were never quiet moments. They were always making attention-getting gestures with their bodies.

A timeline of how things went:

We arrived – soaking wet – from the rain.
They commented about the rain, we engaged in weathery chit chat.
Laura and I were conversing.
We talk to the bartender about ciders. Man tries to get in on it but is kind of unsuccessful.
They started having a dicsussion about how she is deeply troubled/offended/bothered by/done with, his sister. *I was actually having a good time talking with my sister, I wasn’t listening to their entire conversation – but this is when I started to feel something was up. They were speaking in Public Voices about private things. The way they were speaking is a way  generally associate with improv perfomances. I could sense that they were regularly gauging our reactions.*
She went to the washroom. As she left, I thought to myself “He’s going to engage us in an interaction”.
We continued chatting.
He was looking at us, making attention getting sighs, coughs etc until he interrupted with “Excuse me, if a few minutes, our friends are joining us for a drink so it might get a bit crouded at this end”. We offered to move to the next table, as the single man had left, but he assured us the friends were only there for a quick drink and would then leave.
Laura commented on his shirt that said BACON.
He said he loves bacon but his partner is vegetarian and he sometimes cooks it at their home but she doesn’t like it.
She returns. I tell her he is totally right and he is totally wrong. Bacon smell gets in everything etc etc. After a few minutes Laura and I switch back to our duo conversation.
Our food arrives.
Man intterrupts with something like “You said you used to be vegetarian – What’s the story there?” Group conversation ensues for about 5 minutes then Laura and I return to our duo conversation.
Their conversation moves onto homosexuality and people being in the closet.
I go to the washroom to send this text message to Shawn:

IMG_0217

A few minutes later, when I’m back at the table, he calls me to ask what is going on. I respond that I can not really say at the moment, because I don’t want to give away my suspicions. I want to see where this will go. He asks me if I am safe and happy. I affirm that I am and we end the call.
Their friends arrive. Another hetero couple. Introductions are made and it seems like only the men know each other. Despite this, the four speak to each other with consistent intensity and energy. People who apparently didn’t know each other, talk about things they did together. No one ever gets interrupted. The conversation never stalls. They never split into two groups of conversation. They ask each other questions that make the speaker explain things in a way an audience wants to hear it (example – the initial woman asked questions about the initial man’s family, that she would know the answers to, so that we could have more context)
Topics they covered:
Drinking and driving.
Policing stuff.
Gross McDonalds food stories.
Mommy Wars stuff.
*There is no natural way for ALL of these topics to flow from one to the other*
As the time passed they got more fervent and raucous. As we were leaving, original man was telling an incredulous story about  some lewd sex and they had uproarious laughter. Laura and I both noticed many people giving us special attention (looking directly into our eyes, not in the discrete “oh someone is passing by” kind of way that people usually do) as we left the space. Right out front, we went over the events and corroborated what I had suspected. Then, two men who had been a few feet away walked into the place, both pausing to give us direct eye contact as well.

I suggested we go back in ‘to use the bathroom’. Laura said no. I tried peeking in the windows but she kind of dragged me away. I wanted to go back in, but I also had the kernel of doubt that it was all in my head.

But COME ON! That was totally not. It totally was an improv thing these four people were doing. Other people may or may not have been in on it. Either they were in on it or they just overheard those (somewhat incendiary) conversations and were paying some attention.

On this day:

In 2006 – voting with money

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