As They Like Selfies
“What should I do?” Edwina said. She puzzlingly looked back over at me. “I think they just graduated from St. Pete College?”
“I’m no good,” I said. I had sat on my favorite cushioned chair inside The Moon. I glanced back over at the young ladies. “I don’t speak their language.”
“I don’t think they even know I’m here,” Edwina said. She covered her mouth with her left hand. “But they seem happy.”
“Yeah, I’ve seen them all over St. Pete,” I said. I picked up my Guinness. “I think they’re lost in their own Arden forest, as it were, I don’t exist in their world.”
“They are definitely in their own world,” Edwina said.
“Robert Cornelius,” I said. I smirked up at Edwina. “He would be proud, I’m good at trivial pursuit.”
“Who?” Edwina said.
“First recorded selfie,” I said. I shrugged. “1839, I know, I get curious. Had to look it up.”
“You’re so strange,” Edwina said. She shook her head.
“It’s my gift,” I said. I chuckled.
Edwina had leaned back near the bar register, and she was nearby me as we watched the two young ladies happily squeezing together for a series of selfies from their smartphones camera. Edwina had strolled up earlier upon their arrival to the bar, but, they couldn’t make up their minds as to drink orders. So, they had decided to wait. And then, it was as if they were having their own impromptu photo shoot at The Moon.
“They’re both twenty-one,” Edwina said. She crossed her arms. “I’ve at least carded them.”
“Careful,” I said. “They might be Post-Millennials, an even stranger breed, than THE millennials. But if you go in, go in with confidence, it’ll throw them off. I don’t think they’re used to real human interaction.”
Edwina waved forward, and she started toward other guests.
“Maybe you should, I don’t have the time for those two,” Edwina said. “Besides, you’re harmless looking.”
I watched Edwina as she walked away, but she stopped at a large beer tap, and she looked back over at me with a smirk; as if to have encouraged me to act, and to have engaged the young ladies.
“Very well, called my bluff,” I said. I picked up my Guinness, I walked over, and sat down nearby them. “Pardon me?”
They turned away from their smartphones, but they had maintained with their hands the smartphones relative positions as if I had hit the pause button. They glanced over at me, as if I’d interrupted their private playtime.
“Don’t be creepy,” she said. She had closely cropped brown hair, almost to the point to have been mistaken her as a young boy. She was taller, fuller figured than the other girl, who was blonde, and petite.
“Sorry, I promise,” I said. I tapped at my neck to remind her she was wearing a white graduation sash. “More like congratulations are in order? Your bartender, Edwina, and I were just curious, fine arts degree?”
“Yes,” she said. She smiled. She allowed the smartphone to return to the bar top. “Finally.”
“I’m Rob,” I said. I sat up. “Graduation days a big deal, I remember graduation, before you all were born, but still, I can remember it.”
“Rosalind,” Rosalind said. She twisted her head to the side. “She’s Celia.”
“I graduated with honors,” Celia said. “In three years.”
“Cool, we just couldn’t figure it out,” I said. I leaned back. I pointed down the bar at Edwina. “We were trying to figure out why you two ended up at, The Moon? This is good spot, mind you, But why not in a crowd of friends, at a hip place.”
Rosalind and Celia frowned back over at each other. Celia nodded approval for Rosalind to have spoken, but then she changed her mind, and she looked back up at me.
“My father, Fred,” Celia said. “It was him.”
“And my dad, Duke, Sr,” Rosalind said. “Got into it, yelling, at each other at our graduation party.”
“Rosalind lives in a big house,” Celia said. “On Snell Island.”
“So, you both escaped to The Moon?” I said. I gripped the cold Guinness. “Got it, so this is pre-game after leaving home.”
“Yeah, seems like a good starting place,” Rosalind said. “Even our cousins, Orlando and Oliver, got into it, stupid.”
“Everybody,” Celia said. She frowned. “They are all at war, even our mothers disappeared. We had to leave, lame.”
“Well,” I said. I sipped the Guinness. I waved back over at Edwina. “Welcome to The Moon, you’re both safe here, we typically have a happy regular crowd.”
“Hello, dears,” Edwina said.
“Edwina,” I said. “This is Rosalind, and Celia, they just graduated, and their family party has been a bust.”
“Sorry,” Edwina said.
“Yeah,” Celia said. “Sucks.”
“Not my typical thing,” I said. I tapped on my lips with my right-hand forefinger. “But, a graduation shot of their choosing, on me, something that’s a real crowd-pleaser. As I’m certain this is just a minor part in their evenings play.”
Edwina clapped. She smiled down at the young ladies. They looked back over at me, and then up at Edwina.
“What’s your recommendation?” Rosalind said. She looked back over at me. “Are you for real?”
“I’m quite serious,” I said. “My treat.”
“You like vodka?” Edwina said. She pushed her glasses up her nose bridge. “Less dangerous, plus you have me, and not our mixology demon, Jane.”
“I’m in,” Celia said. “I like vodka.”
“You in?” Edwina said. She pointed over at me.
“No,” I said.
“Really?” Rosalind said. “You need to step-up, grandpa.”
“I’ll have one,” I said. I laughed, as I crossed my arms. “I suspect I’ll regret it, but to be clear, I’m not a grandpa.”
After awhile, Edwina returned with a two-piece metal shaker that she’d already heavily shaken as it were icy cold at the bottom. She had set out four shot glasses, and used a French strainer to fill them with a pale-green mixture.
“I’m in, too,” Edwina said. She set a shot glass in front of us. “I have to try my own creations.”
“Cheers,” I said. I held the glass up in my fingers. “To happy futures, to happy lives.”
We each drank down the shot, it was sugary, and flavorful like a minty sports drink, but with an obvious alcohol kick.
“Thanks, Rob,” Rosalind said. Celia nodded.
“Congratulations,” I said. “Edwina, that was quite good, but I think I’ll return to my safe Guinness.”
“Thanks,” Edwina said. She smiled as she moved away. “Let me know if you’d like another.”
“What’s your next steps,” I said over at Rosalind and Celia. “Career, maybe get married, have some kids?”
It was apparent by their stares, I had touched a taboo subject.
“Ah, no,” Rosalind said. “I am never, never getting married.”
“No children,” Celia said. “I laugh at the idea of getting married, I don’t get it.”
“I’m divorced,” I said. I sighed. “But, I waited into my thirties, I’d not change anything, but I understand. It’s not for everybody, I think it’s good you’re going your own way.”
“You have children,” Rosalind said. “Our age, is that what you tell them about family?”
“No, I don’t have any, by choice,” I said. “I have a simple life, but can I ask you both, what’s up with the selfies?”
They stared at me, and appeared to have carefully considered my question. Rosalind clutched her smartphone.
“It’s how we communicate,” Rosalind said. She shrugged as she glossed her fingers along the colorful case. “How we share.”
“But now,” I said. “To quote Shakespeare, ‘All the worlds a stage’, for real, and nothing disappears.”
“I’m not afraid,” Celia said. She looked at me like I was a lost puppy. “We can’t go hide, anyway.”
“I wonder were I’m at in my seven ages, I admit that,” I said. I looked back over at Celia. “My generation, Generation X, we got away with a lot more than you all can. We did a lot of the same things, but we could hide the evidence.”
“It’s a different time,” Celia said. “Embrace it.”
“You ever taken a selfie,” Rosalind said.
“Ah,” I said. “No.”
Rosalind got up, she leaned over and grabbed my left forearm. She moved me over next to Celia. And with her left outstretched arm, she clicked the smartphone with her thumb several times. She pulled the smartphone back, and she tapped on the screen.
“See,” Rosalind said. “Your pretty photogenic, dude.”
“If you say so,” I said.
“That one works,” Celia said. She pointed at the top corner of Rosalind’s screen.
“Watch me,” Rosalind said. She tapped on the screen, and she picked the photograph. “See, I just shared you with our friends, now watch all the comments?”
And another world had appeared before my eyes on Rosalind’s smartphone screen as we sat next to each other inside, The Moon. It was a new world for me with all the different faces, the unique names, the symbols. And then Celia got a text. She grumbled, and patted Rosalind.
“My dad, Fred,” Celia said. She glanced at me. “He’s decided to enter a religious rehab, and leave Duke, Sr., alone.”
“Well, then,” I said. I nodded. “Congratulations, I’m sure your friends will think you met your long, lost uncle.”
“Thanks, Rob,” Rosalind said.
“Yeah,” Celia said.
“I liked my selfie,” I said. “Have fun tonight, be safe.”
I waved goodby to Edwina, and I had left The Moon. As I walked within the crowd toward home, I had decided to bypass the brick alleyway. The crowd near the restaurants and shops were lost in their own evening, as I had quietly strolled among them. I wondered about all the different parts I’d already played in my life. And it had occurred to me that if I had not taken the time to understand someone, listen to an alternative view, or learn about something different, it would have been my fault.