It was evening and I decided to go to a bar in Milwaukee I had read on Yelp had a good karaoke night. The bar is located in Milwaukee’s Walker’s Point neighborhood, home of the Allen-Bradley Clock Tower that shines bright every night.
I parked the car as close as I could to the curb and walked to the bar, a tiny building with a green awning displaying the name of the bar in white letters. (It’s one of those places where if you’re expecting a giant sign with the name of the bar, you’ll miss it. There’s not even a large SCHLITZ or BLATZ sign attached to the building.) I stepped in, showed a guy behind the bar my ID and found a seat.
I sat there and looked around to get a better idea of the place. Although the liquor selection was decent, featuring what seemed to be every Absolut Vodka under the sun, this was a dive bar. It was a bar with HD TVs that were showing the Bulls game in standard definition. I really don’t feel like going into all of the details as to how it looked inside, so we’ll skip ahead to me ordering a pint of New Glarus Spotted Cow because a beer felt like the only appropriate drink at this bar.
The regulars were all preoccupied with chatting or playing a game of Yahtzee, so I thought, “Okay, I can sit here, watch the Bulls game, enjoy my beer, sing a song, finish my beer and leave. The bartender’s nice, but this just isn’t the bar for me.”
Shortly after I thought this, a guy in a leather jacket with long stringy hair came in. He had a funky scent to him and I thought, “Please don’t sit next to me.” He asked for the ATM, which the bartender pointed him to, and then he sat down and ordered a Red Bull and a shot of Jäger.
“Kudos to you sir,” I thought. “Your Red Bull and Jäger cost more than my pint of beer.”
He then said hi to me. I don’t remember responding because at the time I thought, “I’d really like to not be bothered. I’m caught up in the Bulls game.”
He then asked the bartender if anyone would be interested in a pool game. She responded with something along the lines of “You’d have to ask the people here.” He did and no one was interested. He then asked me and I said, “No.”
“Do ya know how to play pool?”
“No,” I said, lying because my mother did teach me how to play pool during the summer. I even used a tone in my voice to try to convey, “Please go away.”
“Are ya gonna sing something?”
“No,” I said, this time telling the truth. I had come there with every intention of singing during karaoke, but at that moment I felt so uncomfortable I didn’t want to stay and sing during karaoke.
“Aww, come on, pretty lady–”
No. Do not call me pretty lady as if it’s my name. My name is Monica, although you could also call me “Ms. Reida” or “Ms. Inbox,” which is what someone submitting a piece to Gapers Block called me one time. It’s one thing to complement my looks, but don’t refer to me as “pretty lady” because it just irks me.
What also puzzled me was as to why this guy would be trying to pick up a woman in a bar that is primarily a lesbian bar. The bar’s website describes it as a “lesbian/gay/mutual respect bar,” but the reputation of the bar is it’s Milwaukee’s lesbian bar. If he wanted to pick up a woman at a dive bar, he could have gone to another place. As my sister pointed out when I got back to my mother’s home, there are plenty of dive bars in Milwaukee and you don’t have to look very hard to find one.
I decided to leave as soon as I finished the pint I was drinking and let my mother know I would be coming home soon. The guy set up a game of pool and then returned to say, “Hey, pretty lady, sure you don’t want to play?”
“Nope!” I said. I pulled out my wallet, grabbed money to tip the bartender, put it back in my purse, grabbed my things and left the bar, my pint of beer unfinished.
As I stood out on the street I thought, “Why did you do that?”
The answer was simple: I was uncomfortable. When I get uncomfortable, I get panicky and when I get panicky I become a mess. I’ve learned to not stay in places I feel uncomfortable so in the end leaving was a good choice. No, I did not get to try my hardest to sing a song that isn’t my usual karaoke song–”It’s Raining Men” did not seem appropriate for that venue–but it’s better I left and didn’t have my evening become terrible than stay just to sing.
I got in the car and headed back to where my mother lives. Talking Heads’ “Once in a Lifetime” came on the radio, giving me the chance to say “This is not my beautiful house!” while I drove down Kinnickinnic Avenue. I got home, talked with my family and finished the book I was reading.
The evening ended up being really great after all.