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Bar - shadows of echoes of memories of songs — LiveJournal
Working behind the bar tonight, in some ways it felt like I'd never been away. All the same people, drinking the same drinks, cracking the same jokes. Busy night, but not too busy for a rusty barmaid. I'd forgotten how sticky I felt by the end, though. And how much people comment on bits of my body (somebody else's body, that girl's body). "You shouldn't go sleeveless, love, it doesn't suit you." You know what? I don't give a toss. It's hot behind the bar. If I wore long sleeves, I would sweat like a pig. And it's the same fucking beer even if the woman who serves it to you is ugly, isn't it.

20 quid cash will come in handy though. Particularly since I left my wallet (and, incidentally, house keys) in work. (STUPID.)

Not sure I can cope with parties tomorrow. Or in fact getting out of bed. Except that I have to work at Oxfam tomorrow. Bed after that, I think.

Current Mood: dead inside

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From: angua Date: May 21st, 2004 04:01 pm (UTC) (Link)
Isn't it just *peachy* when people think they have a right to comment on what you're wearing.

I always smile politly when that happens and in my head imagine a painful and firey death for the person concerned.
j4 From: j4 Date: May 21st, 2004 05:05 pm (UTC) (Link)
Not sure "rights" are anything to do with it... I can't stop them commenting. If I wanted to never be anywhere that people could have opinions on my looks then I'd have to hide in a box. Which admittedly is tempting sometimes but still. Can't really wish them a hideous death just for saying what they're thinking when I do that all the time myself.

Mostly though it really does feel like they're talking about somebody else. I just say whatever comes into my head, or smile vaguely as if I haven't quite heard, or go and serve somebody else or pick up empty glasses or fill the glasswasher or something.
dorianegray From: dorianegray Date: May 21st, 2004 04:35 pm (UTC) (Link)
And it's the same fucking beer even if the woman who serves it to you is ugly, isn't it.

In my regular bar, the bestest member of staff is, to be kind about it, plain. But to be honest, that rarely occurs to me. She is always friendly and chatty and remembers what I drink and asks me how things are and generally treats me (and all customers) as a person rather than a machine into which beer must be poured. She is one of the nicest people I know, and I would rather have her serve me than the most glamorous person in the world. (And likewise, I always have a bit of a chat with her and do not treat her as a beer-providing machine; not that I would ever treat any barperson that way, but you know what I mean.)

You are quite right not to give a toss about how somebody thinks you look. For one thing, he or she is probably wrong anyway, and for another, your attitude and behaviour are far more important anyway.
j4 From: j4 Date: May 21st, 2004 05:26 pm (UTC) (Link)
I certainly don't treat any of the customers as beer-vessels to be filled and refilled; I know most of them, a lot of them are lovely, and even the one who made that comment -- mad Dave -- is mostly fine, though he is mad, in a not-all-there kind of way. And I don't think most of them -- except the moronic youths who just pour gallons of lager that looks (and tastes) like cat's wee down their throats, but they don't count -- treat me as a beer-providing machine. They'll chat for ages if I let them, some of them, anyway. And yeah, a lot of them do make dodgy jokes, but it's all rather Carry On Up the Carlton Arms. It's "ooh, naughty" rather than "ugh, nasty".

The ones who say "what happened to your arms?", that's different, I just smile vacantly and say "oh, yeah, it was a long time ago" or something and mostly they leave it. Never understood why anybody asks anyway, I mean, what do they want, what answer do they think they're going to get?

The thing is, though, most of the people there don't speak that whole weird dialect of "rights" and "self-identification" and "gender identity" and "personal lifestyle choice" and so on, they just say what they think, really. I'm used to seeing that as offensive, because it's Non-Consensual Definition of an Individual, or whatever... but actually for me it's kind of refreshing sometimes. In a way it's cool that they see me as, you know, just a person, without dissecting me and analysing me and banging on about my Right to Self-Identify as Just A Person. And it's certainly bizarre for me to feel that I'm seen as a woman; I find it quite disorientating. So many of the people I know seem to think that it's deeply offensive to limit somebody's gender like that. I mean, especially when I don't, y'know, self-identify as a woman. (I just happen to be one.)

Sometimes though I just feel so tired, so tired, and I wonder why are they all talking about this person?

They're right about the sleevelessness not suiting me, mind; I have fat arms that are covered in scars, and it probably would look better if I kept them hidden. *shrug* Rest of me isn't so bad: just short and plain-ish.
From: kaet Date: May 21st, 2004 06:54 pm (UTC) (Link)
It's difficult to say about the arms thing, but I htink it's somehting that often gets asked, but I think mainly by men or by, I guess, women in mainly male company like in bars. I'd not thought of it like that before. It's difficult to say what it means, I'll have to have a think, but it's kind of usually just a conversation token thing, not a scary thing. It's a bit like when you want to know how someone is, so you do something to get a reaction kind of thing. Like a vocal equivalent of sticking your tongue out or a friendly poke or saying "penny for your thoughts". I think it happens with things like war-wounds and tatoos, and stuff, too. And what they're really after is like will the answer be cagey or sarkey or sad or whistful or imaginataive or whatever, and it's not even important whether the answer's true or not. It's a weird thing that the touchier the thing the better. I guess it's because it's something that's going to raise a defence of some type almost always, so you're kind of making the model of a bit of the other person by working out what defences are in use today, kind of like a cross between empathy and fighting, and I think it tends to be seen as a compliment to do the same thing back. I usually respond by sticking my tongue out or with self-mockery or surrealness or something because usually my main wish is to place myself outside the monkey-grading thing, so establishing myself as a fool helps me feel more relaxed. But other people have other priorities and situations. I know that it's not how people tend to feel about selfharm stuff themselves, but I think that might be what the person on the other side might be doing? Does this make any sense at all? :(
nja From: nja Date: May 21st, 2004 11:02 pm (UTC) (Link)
It's difficult to say what it means, I'll have to have a think, but it's kind of usually just a conversation token thing, not a scary thing.

It's often an opening point for blokey tales of derring-do. I've got a scar on my left hand which is not all that noticeable now but used to be fairly prominent. It goes like this:
Bloke1: How did you do that?
Bloke2: Tells tale of abseiling down the Matterhorn, coming off his motorbike at 140 mph, invading the Falklands, etc
Or in my case, carrying a sofa through a gate that wasn't quite big enough, which is not very macho but in keeping with my level of blokiness and physical competence. So it's not necessarily a comment on the scar itself or someone's appearance, it may reflect the different attitude of men and women (boys and girls) to scars. My four-year-old friend fell on a radiator and split his head open the other week, he's hoping he'll get a nice scar on his forehead so he'll look like a pirate. I suspect if he was a girl he wouldn't be so happy at that prospect.
oldbloke From: oldbloke Date: May 22nd, 2004 11:46 am (UTC) (Link)
The time I got 85% acetic acid over my face was interesting to see a certain respect in they eys of the local Hard Men (not very hard, where I used to hang out), and it certainly got you to the bar quickly.

Most of the "what happened to your arms?" may be just a totally straightforward question - a lot of people won't have seen that stuff before, even if they've read about it. They just won't know what it means. Apart from one guy with some wrist scars you're the first person I've actually seen the marks on, myself.
j4 From: j4 Date: May 22nd, 2004 04:41 pm (UTC) (Link)
But surely ... I dunno, I just Wouldn't Ask, because if somebody's got that amount of scars it suggests that something pretty bad happened to them and they might not want to talk about that. Doesn't it? If I saw somebody with burns all over their face there's no way I'd say "What happened to your face?" in case the answer was something like "I was in a fire that killed the rest of my family" or "my plane was shot down" or something horrendous like that. I saw a friend with a limb in plaster I'd probably ask "what did you do to your arm/leg?" because the answer is pretty likely to be "I broke it in [some accident]", & therefore unlikely to be seriously traumatic to talk about, but -- oh, I dunno. Maybe it's just me being neurotic.

OTOH I don't really mind people asking so long as they're prepared to take "I'd rather not talk about it" as an answer. But some people just won't. :-(
nja From: nja Date: May 23rd, 2004 02:49 am (UTC) (Link)
I just Wouldn't Ask, because if somebody's got that amount of scars it suggests that something pretty bad happened to them and they might not want to talk about that. Doesn't it?

I think you may be mistaken in assuming that men in pubs (who may have been drinking alcoholic beverages) are going to think rationally about this sort of thing. I'm in general a don't-stare don't-make-comments type, because I spend a lot of time around people who are "physically non-standard" in ways which make your arms look fairly normal, and I've got that English reserve and respect for privacy which is often mistaken for coldness and indifference. Plenty of other people are either a lot more outgoing or a lot less inhibited/thoughtful. I think there's also a big difference between injuries which are still causing someone severe difficulties (social or physical), and ones which aren't (or at least aren't obviously to someone unreflective).
oldbloke From: oldbloke Date: May 23rd, 2004 11:22 am (UTC) (Link)
The thing is, it's not obvious to the uninitiated what caused those marks.
j4 From: j4 Date: May 24th, 2004 11:44 am (UTC) (Link)
No, the thing is, whatever caused the marks, I just don't see why they ask. I could understand it more if they asked a bloke things like that, because of the macho-scar-story thing, but it seems an odd thing to ask a girl. Unless they're seeing me as "one of the lads", in which case I should probably just invent some stupid story about getting attacked by lions or something.

Use of "uninitiated" in that context makes me skin-crawly. It's not some kind of sekrit clique, not a 'club' I'm proud of belonging to, not something I expect anybody else to know about, or even to want to know about, to care about. It just, y'know, is. Was. Whatever. :-(
From: kaet Date: May 21st, 2004 05:03 pm (UTC) (Link)
I thought it was amusing a couple of Thursdays ago when the noisy bar suddenly became completely quiet and Jethro happened to be standing behind me at exactly the moment I happened to be saying it seems that the most heinous crime, in their eyes, is the mocking of an American penis. It's a good job I know 'em all, :). I was having a quiet conversation with ewx which was actually mainly about the influence of art on society, honest, and I swear there were at least half a dozen conversations going on when we started, :).
gnimmel From: gnimmel Date: May 22nd, 2004 04:15 am (UTC) (Link)
It's odd that there seem to be two sorts of groups-going-quiet; where everyone goes completely quiet, and where everyone goes completely quiet apart from one person saying something which sounds dodgy out of context[1]. I don't know whether that's because people don't register only one person saying My aunt came back from Bognor the other week as a silence, or whether they consciously don't start speaking again after overhearing the start of a phrase that might be interesting....

[1] Such as I think it's something to do with S and M (which wouldn't raise many eyebrows amongst the livejournal crowd, but this was at work)
rysmiel From: rysmiel Date: May 24th, 2004 08:23 am (UTC) (Link)
"You shouldn't go sleeveless, love, it doesn't suit you."

whatvever about being polite or acceptable, that comment is factually inaccurate.
j4 From: j4 Date: May 24th, 2004 08:28 am (UTC) (Link)
I don't think it particularly suits me. I don't think very much suits me, though, to be honest.
rysmiel From: rysmiel Date: May 24th, 2004 11:37 am (UTC) (Link)
If I expressed absolute support for the most obvious policy that suggests, viz. not wearing very much, would it sound too much like I was becoming a caricature of myself ?
j4 From: j4 Date: May 24th, 2004 11:46 am (UTC) (Link)

I dunno about a caricature of yourself. I just know that at the moment I feel hideously ugly. I just want to hide under a rock, or die quietly where nobody will notice. I certainly don't want anybody to see me with few clothes on, because I feel grotesque and lumpen and awful, but fortunately nobody is ever likely to see me in that kind of state again.
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