Without exception, each one of them exudes confidence as they slide up to the bar. Some of them occasionally cast eyes towards the front door as though waiting for someone, or furtively glance at their cellphones, like they're expecting an important call or message. A few stare idly at laptops, giving the illusion of work or importance.
They give themselves away with that, though: all that theatre for the benefit of an audience they wish they had. It's clear that they are all, every one, just another sad soul with elbows on the pine, far more engrossed in the shotglass in front of them than the reruns of Knight Rider they're pretending to watch on the TV above the bar.
Some of them have that confidence trick down better than others, but in the end it's all a show, and you can see in their eyes that something has given way deep inside, probably longer ago than any of them can remember.
"How 'bout another?" asks the waitress, and I point at my glass to say yes. She drifts off to get more, for me, and for the countless others.
The countless others. This girl, with the long blonde hair and who is constantly fidgeting with her stainless bracelet -- she's probably a hairdresser, but a director she knows has her number, only he hasn't called. Yet.
And that guy, with the carefully combed hair and knockoff Rolex, he's in sales, only he's really a guitarist, but his band needs a drummer and a bassist, and his keyboardist quit last month to move in with his girlfriend.
"Here you go, hon." The waitress appears out of the shadows, puts another glass of golden effervescence in front of me. "You good?"
"Yeah," I tell her. "I'm good."
That girl's a secretary but only until someone publishes her poetry. That guy's in marketing, but it's just a gig while he works on his novel. The man in the suit is worried about his bills but it won't matter when someone discovers he can sing.
Everyone has someone's number, but everyone's number is up.
Take me away. Take me a million miles from here.