‘If you want to go, babe,’ I said, slurring slightly, ‘we can go. We don’t have to let him talk to you like that.’     ‘Who the fuck...

The Day Everyone Pretended Not to Know Who the Fuck I Was

   ‘If you want to go, babe,’ I said, slurring slightly, ‘we can go. We don’t have to let him talk to you like that.’

   ‘Who the fuck are you?’ She snapped back, turning away from the hand I’d placed on the small of her back and looking at me like I’d done a shit in her breakfast. ‘I don’t know who the fuck you are. I’m not going anywhere with you. Get away from me.’

   I just laughed. She was always quirky like that, old whatsherface. With her dyed black hair and her… fringe. I laughed so hard I spilt beer all down my arm, but she and all those boring fuckers that were trash talking her just stood there staring at me, all pretending not to get the joke. Which was funny and all, but after a while I wasn’t in the mood for it so I decided to walk off and talk to someone else for a bit. I’d fuck whatsherface extra hard later, just because I could.

   I saw a baby in a pram, shaking a rattle and talking gibberish to itself. Diddl-iddl-iddl-iddl-aaaaaaaah it was saying, and its parents were sitting next to its pram talking to another couple about something or other and I’m sure I knew the whole crowd from somewhere but I didn’t really know how to start conversation so I just started tickling the baby’s cheek and making funny faces at it, until the pram was pulled away from me and I found the whole table of adults staring at me. I suddenly felt an immense pressure to greet them; to look at me this intensely, they must have recognised me.

   ‘Oh, hi everyone,’ I grinned, ‘how are you all?’

   ‘Who the fuck are you?’ said the dad, a dashing young chap I must have drunk with a thousand times in this very bar. Real cutting edge banter was going down in the bar that night, and I was lapping it up. Heartily laughing, I play-punched his arm.

   ‘Oh, you,’ I said, stumbling a tad and spilling a bit more of my pint onto their table. ‘What are you like?’

   The wife – I can’t remember her name for the life of me, but it’ll come back to me at some point – was covering her nose with the neck of her jumper.

   ‘Look, you’re making my wife uncomfortable and I’m not happy with you touching my baby’s face. You’re filthy. Can you go away please?’ He play-snarled.

   I gave him a cheeky wink. He’s a riot, that guy. ‘Sure thing, mate,’ I said, backing away, ‘I’ll see you next time you’re in here anyway.’

   On my way to the bar, I bumped into a guy wearing a sweater vest and slacks, all posh like, and his four friends, all wearing the same. It took me a while to recognise them, but when I did I was so pleased that I downed the rest of my pint.

   ‘It’s you!’ I said, pointing at whateverhisnameis, the tall one who I used to play cricket with down at the wherever. ‘How’s it going, man?’

   He just looked at me, a wry smile creeping over his lips. He eyed his friends one by one, then looked back at me. ‘I-I’m sorry,’ he stuttered, ‘do I know you?’

   ‘Oh shuttup,’ I chuckled, ‘and Tony! It is Tony, isn’t it? Or Greg? Mitchell? I forget, I’ve got a shit memory these days, but it’s you as well!’

   Tony or Greg or Mitchell also looked around at all his friends, who were all stifling laughs like I was, before formulating his answer: ‘I have honestly never met you in my life.’

   Of course, we all burst into fits of laughter. All of us, in on the joke, we just stood there wetting our pants with laughter. One of them even said to me, ‘It appears none of us know who the fuck you are!’ My sides nearly split.

   But soon they got boring too, so I eloped with my empty to the bar, where I called the bartender over in the jovialest of tones. ‘The usual please, mate,’ I grinned.

   ‘You don’t have a usual,’ he replied, maintaining a deadpan expression with much more skill than I could have mustered in his shoes, ‘you’ve never been in here, and frankly, we’d like you to leave now anyway. You’re scaring away our real customers.’

   I pointed and winked and guffawed a little more as I walked away from the bar. Real, tangible, world-class banter was going on that night. All round mental bant. I decided that if he was going to keep up his act (and he was keeping it up brilliantly and hilariously, so who could blame him), I should wait for another barman if I hoped to get served. I realised I should probably take a break anyway, since I’d had eight pints already.

   So I just leant on the bar for a while, looking around the pub and baring my teeth in a big grin at the room. I looked around until I spotted whatshername, that bird with the huge jugs from a couple of weeks ago, the one who did that thing with the wine bottle. Instead of greeting her, I thought I’d give her a pleasant surprise – a cheeky snog. Grabbing hold of her arse with one hand and her neck with the other, I locked my lips onto hers before her eyes had even focused on me.

   She must have recognised who it was straight away though, because she screamed in pleasure straight away. She screamed and screamed and struggled and struggled, but I just kept laughing and snogging. That is, until the barman from before grabbed my collar and bent my arm behind my back and wrenched me off her.

   ‘Who the fuck are you?!’ she screamed. Looking at her more closely, I realised that maybe I had the wrong woman. But I still definitely knew this one.

   ‘Right, get the fuck out,’ barked the barman, pushing me into this strange little porch thing by the doors, ‘and don’t come back.’

   This was all part of the plan anyway. I’d been planning to leave soon, so they’d done me a favour by chucking me out. I’d go home, have a little cry, have a big wank and then go to bed.

   But when I got outside, I realised that it was only midday, and the sun was blistering hot, and I had no home to go to. So I downed a half-pint I found on the windowsill (swallowing the floating fag butt too), and moved on to the next bar.

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