He stared down at his khaki shorts and leather sandals. Adjusting his backpack, he pretended to wait for a friend at the corner of Bar Naked, while the proprietors down the row brought their tables onto the closed road.
In the essence of things, he did not need to pretend. He was waiting for his friends, the reasons why he had agreed to this outing in the first place. The posters glistened in the sunset, and standing banners quickly rolled up. He craned his neck from across the road, his first step hesitant.
It had been a while, was he going to enjoy himself again?
“Are you here for the event?” a lady with a clipboard approached him. By some strange process of hypnotic walking, he found himself half a step away from the registration table. Or barrel, by the looks of it.
“Kinda,” he said, “I’m actually under someone else’s name.”
Names of friends were exchanged and written. Passes, lanyards, and goodie bags received, he climbed the steps into the bar. He was ready. Or at least, that was what he told himself.
He looked up to a cheery waiter in his uniform black polo, scanning the menu at the corner of his eye, he took a second too long.
“Ginger Ale, please.”
With a drink in his hand, he was quickly whisked to the bar’s open mic, slowly assimilating as an underdressed backpacker with a drink in his hand. Settling into his corner, he kept his eye out. And when the host took the microphone, the fidget from his ankle spread to his hip.
People entered, each stream bringing in a new slew of unfamiliar faces. It was not until the event guests were about to be announced when a familiar poke of a head at the corner of the door raised his eyebrows.
“You guys are late,” he said.
“We had to get ready,” she replied, “It has been a while.”
The event panel started with unfinished conversations. Conversations which quickly turned into smiles, eye contact, and eventually, unbridled laughter. Unabashed honesty filled the air with quotes which made everyone gasp, only for it to turn into another round of guffaws. Despite the contrast in appearance and interest, it was difficult not to enjoy himself in the discussion of food, family, and social issues.
Among the tweets, microblogs, selfies, hashtags, and photographs during the session, he was certain that this night would be immortalised on a blog in some corner of the Internet somehow. He let himself go, his own laughter louder and heartier than he could imagine, even before the panel came to an end.
Clutching onto their juices and sodas, they weaved pass the liquor and beer tables, back to the corner table he sat himself at. He turned to his friends and their t-shirt, jeans, backpacks, and sling bags, and smiled to himself.
The nerd table was present.
(Note: This piece of flash fiction was inspired by Nika Harper’s Creative Writing Challenge on Season 1, Episode 1 of Wordplay, and the Fly Social Event at Bar Naked on 31st January 2015. For a better coverage of the event, please check out Sarah Coldheart’s post here.)