#383: The Unsung

October 8th, 2014

The chalkboard drawing of pumpkins and sexy witches, the bartendress said, was done by a DJ who doesn’t work there anymore.

“She say she went to a high school for drawing and painting,” the bartendress said in a thick Eastern European accent of some stripe.

The bartendress mimed scribbling in the air as she said “drawing and painting.”

The DJ who did show was thin and pretty. She sat at the bar, the only other person but me and a stranger who the manager owed a free drink. The three of us sat in a line, all toying with our phones.

A man named Ziggy came in to sit with her. He told a long and abrupt story about a wedding that she laughed at and led along, repeating salient phrases like a talk show host.

“So wait, she…?” “What did he do next?” “So you’re telling me she…?”

Ziggy wore a flat cap and munched popcorn from the bar.

There was motion throughout. The manager came by at a moment the bartender was gone. The bar phone was ringing the whole time.

A couple walked in to get shots en route to a better party. The man mentioned something to that effect, then shrunk back slightly, as if he had offended the bartendress. As if she didn’t know the place would be dead until later. The couple took the shots and left.

The woman drinking on the manager’s dime left a few minutes later.

The thin, pretty DJ walked around a corner and grabbed a wireless microphone “to check.” She belted a pitch-perfect Bonnie Raitt while she walked from one end of the bar to the other, listening to her own song to see if the microphone was picking it up.

These are the little moments that make up most of life. The towering highs and crushing defeats are, what? A few minutes? Some seconds?

No, the real work of life is in the unsung moments, the ones no one will remember. A moonlit walk down a street you haven’t been on. A turn down a corner to see some graffiti that will momentarily strike your fancy.

Or a karaoke bar before hours, a place readying itself for a night of triumphs and embarrassments, one soon to be a night of song, but for now just a quiet bar filled with memories no one will keep.

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You are currently reading #383: The Unsung by Paul Dailing at 1,001 Chicago Afternoons.

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