Toronto with Chekhov

11 08 2009

Thanks to our first contributor and brave soul for giving this a try:

City: Toronto
Bar: Free Times Café (http://www.freetimescafe.com/)
Book: Chekhov, The Essential Plays, Translated by Michael Henry Heim

I have to admit, the thought of sitting alone in a bar with nothing but a book and a drink made me more than a little anxious. But I’ve been thinking lately about how I need to take more chances and open myself up a little. So, when I first heard about ribwb I knew it was something I wanted to be involved with. After all, who hasn’t tried to subtly crane their neck to get a peek at the cover of the book that cute boy on the subway is reading?  Any activity that was aimed at drawing in cute boys with books seemed like a great idea to this perpetually single girl. Nonetheless, my apprehension meant that I still had to drag myself out of the house on Thursday night.

The first challenge was finding the right bar. Because this was my first Bar Read, I wanted a place that was relaxed enough that I wouldn’t feel too self-conscious sitting alone. I chose Free Times Café on College. It’s a casual little café/bar with soft folk sounds usually drifting from the stage in the back room and a house red that tastes like a Manischewitz that’s been left on a radiator. (It’s not. It’s a Cabernet Sauvignon from Chile — I asked.) The second challenge was choosing the right book. I didn’t want anything too ostentatious (e.g. Kafka); but I also didn’t want anything that made me seem unrefined (e.g. anything written by Stephenie Meyer — although, don’t get me wrong, I surprised even myself by enjoying the Twilight series as much as I did!). I settled on a collection of essential Chekhov plays translated by Michael Henry Heim. I hoped that would say “intelligent but not pretentious”.

Due to my earlier reservations, there were more than a few butterflies in my stomach as I stepped off the Spadina streetcar. I went early in the evening to avoid running into a more rowdy crowd. I could see the bar’s neon sign a block away and began giving myself a pep talk. I’d just go in, pretend I was meeting someone and then leave in a half-hour.  I started strategizing — planning my entrance and where I would sit. I considered hiding myself away in one of the booths on the east side of the restaurant, but the point was to be visible and accessible so I decided I’d try the patio.

My nerves mostly evaporated when the bar came into view and I saw that the patio was littered with people sitting alone — some with books, some with laptops, others just enjoying their surroundings. I settled in, ordered a glass of wine and started into Three Sisters.

When I first sat down, there was a disappointing dearth of attractive young men. However, within a few minutes, one came in with his laptop and seated himself at a table directly across from me. It seemed too perfect for words on my first ribwb venture so I set my sights on trying to catch his eye. Unfortunately, at one point he raised his hand to take a drink and I caught sight of a wedding band!

Regrettably, no other viable options presented themselves so I focused on my book instead. Before I knew it, the clock tower of the fire hall down the street was chiming eight o’clock (12 minutes too late, mind you) and I realized I’d be there for almost an hour. I felt comfortable enough to stay around a little longer and finish up Act One.

Overall, it was a great experience (thanks ribwb!). While the ‘boy’ part didn’t really work out, it was at least a nice way to do some reading. Next time, I’ll try for a place a little more populated so I can work on striking up some conversations. But at least it felt like I’d accomplished something by overcoming my apprehension and following through. I realized it’s not that big of a deal to sit alone in a bar with nothing but a book and a drink! For, as Vershinin says in Act One of Three Sisters, “Things that appear serious, significant, so very important — the time will come when they’re forgotten or seem unimportant.”

Ratings:
Bar: 3 (comfortable, well-lit and great for reading)
Book: 4 (Chekhov never fails to break my heart)
Boys: 1 (some are good to look at, but don’t expect reciprocation)

Toronto Emissary

We applaud your courage! And appreciate your thoughts — I agree, the empowerment is as much about enjoying yourself in a risky new situation as it is about meeting people. Both will come, I’m confident. Despite the occasional wedding band hazards. Keep us posted on your next venture.

Advertisements

Actions

Information

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s




%d bloggers like this: