Kyle and I crept down the familiar black wood stairs behind the bar, “Want to see where I go when I pull my ghost act?”, and came out into the vast industrial vintage kitchen that dominates a third of the basement. I’m familiar with this place, but in the dark, everything looks different, as if the room is religiously slumbering, waiting for a second coming of a sacred pastry chef.
Exiting the kitchen into the hall, where the bar is, to the left is the entrance to a low thatched ceiling Tiki Banquet room, all low slung chairs piled haphazardly and woven bamboo walls, and to the right is the entrance to the Polynesian Ballroom which, when the lights are on, is dominated by a long colourful mural put up somewhere in the late forties, the sort of thing you tend to only see in movies unless you live in L.A. or San Francisco. However, it being somewhere close to two:thirty in the morning, the place was abandoned. In the dark, the mural is ignored in favour of the elegant farthest wall, made almost entirely of black and white glass.
This is what we walked into, the stained glass our only source of light, transforming the ballroom into a warm cavern of a room, dark as unwashed velvet. It was a movie moment, a cinematic young girl’s dream of where she’d lose her virginity.
We were talking about fathers and how they’re different from dads. How I’d had one of each as time progressed and how both of them were eventually terrible. I settled our things, strawberries, alcohol, his back-pack, three layers of our jackets, on one of the black tables scattered around the room as Kyle went up onto the balcony and fiddled with switches until he’d found us an unassuming light. The green carpet glowed.
My head in his lap, his hand in mine, my eyes slowly closing with exhaustion, we talked about the shattered crystal balls that were our childhoods. How our hell-raising had taken entirely different forms. Mine almost entirely after dark and secretive, away from my mother, his open to the point where his mother had to fight to keep him out of special schools. We swung ridiculously between being serious, out-pouring our personal history of hurts, and laughing at the futility of the human race. We both want to leave this place better than we found it. When the ice-age comes, if we’re not colonizing the stars yet, we’ll be standing on the side, waving flags and rooting for the Earth.
If you call it love, we’ll cut you.
She sang to herself, as she waited, about the death of dreaming trees. She was almost asleep, but she still smiled when she heard him singing in reply from the next room. When he returned, he’d found she’d shifted from lying on the couch to lying on one of the shining black tables scattered around the room. His reaction was delightful to her, an outburst of sweet awe-struck vehemence so gratifying that it occured to her that she might take up lying on chilly tables in dimly lit rooms as a hobby for the rest of her life.