Listen up motherfuckers. This is some real shit. I’m about to spit some truth all up in your grill. So much so that there won’t be any room left for burgers or sausages and you will go hungry.
[Editor's Note: Many other lame gangster rap references about the truth herein have been removed. Ian has been watching The Wire and he is very impressionable.]
So here’s the deal. I just finished work and I made a promise to myself that I would spend tonight supping delicious Guinness in The Kitchen Bar by my lonesome self. So I have the time it takes me to drink this coffee to write this thing so I can get home for a feed and a quick John Wayne sink scrub before I head out. For this reason, this article will contain no fabrication or embellishment.* Just this once.
So a few weeks ago I was browsing the Belfast Film Festival website when I came across a screening of Casablanca. In motherfucking Harlem Cafe. Period dress encouraged. My mind was immediately flooded by images of me sauntering around Harlem Cafe in a white dinner jacket, sipping a champagne cocktail and coldly ignoring the inevitable advances of the beautiful waitresses in Forties dress. I ordered a ticket, poured a large whiskey and combed enough Brylcreem into my hair to wallpaper the Titanic Quarter paint house. Realising my limp locks simply don’t have the body to pull off Bogey’s sophisticated swept back style, I settled for the common ‘Adolf’ and sat down to get drunk. I soon fell into a slumber peppered with dreams of romantic drives through Paris with a beautiful woman, with just enough gun play to keep the gents happy. My mum woke me up, asking me what time I was starting work in the morning. I sat bolt upright, my divine dream shattered.
‘Nine!’ I screamed, and lay back down.
‘If you’re going to sleep on the sofa at least close your robe,’ she said before she left. I took a slug of Jack and settled back down, hoping to fall into the same dream. But instead I dreamt that a snake bit me in the face and I had to choke it to death. When I woke up my penis was aching, my feet were freezing, and I had half an hour to get my shit together and get to work.
Casablanca night. I had told one of my mates about the screening and he had bought a ticket, but just a couple of hours before it started he cancelled via text. I phoned him in tears, asking how he could be so cold, and before he hung up I swore I heard another girl’s voice in the background. I had a couple of serious drinks while I put on my suit, and then I took the bus in to town. Good thing I left early, too – I got the best seat in the house – right next to the bar, with a perfect view of the screen. Never mind that I was alone, pretty soon the place would fill up with women in evening dresses, with their hair all done up, and that would give me something to look at until the movie started. That is, the best goddamn movie of all time.
Casablanca really is my favourite movie. Or it became my favourite after someone told me the video for The Outsider by A Perfect Circle technically doesn’t qualify as a movie. Humphrey Bogart is a true hero of mine, and it causes me a great deal of grief to know that even at my peak of awesomeness**, I wasn’t even half as awesome as Bogey. I still made an effort though. I had nice shoes on, and a black tie, and even though I was drinking for a good hour before the thing even started, I made a conscious effort to take it easy, lest I make a fool of myself. People trickled in, took their seats and ordered dinner, which looked and smelled fabulous. The only reason I didn’t eat was because I ate right before I left the house. And I’m a degenerate fucking alcoholic, who doesn’t like food getting in the way of the liquor sloshing down my throat. Anyway the place was just about full when seemingly out of nowhere, this dame approached me. I quickly stopped picking my nose and pretended I was just scratching it.
‘Hi,’ I said, with what I now know was an embarrassing level of optimism.
‘Excuse me sir, will anyone be joining you tonight.’ In my head I heard Bogey: ‘You tell me dollface. How about it?’
It was unusual that she called me sir, but for some reason I still didn’t peg her for a member of staff. From my mouth I heard, ‘Um, no…’
‘Can I take this seat then?’ she asked, motioning to the empty chair sitting across from me.
‘Uh, yeah, no, I mean no there’s no one sitting there. You can take it.’ And only then did I fully understand what exactly was happening. There was obviously a shortage of chairs, but the staff had to wait a reasonable amount of time before asking for mine, to determine that it wasn’t going to be used. In other words, they thought I was on a date and had been stood up. I knew she thought this, and she knew I knew she thought this, which only made it more awkward. Dressed to the nines and drowning my sorrows in whiskey, I couldn’t look more pathetic if I had brought flowers. I made eye contact with the barman and lifted my empty glass. He understood the gesture…
If there was ever a more perfect movie. So I sat and watched Casablanca and got a bit drunk and listened to William Crawley give a surprisingly good talk on the film, and I actually had a bloody good time. Even despite the nagging feeling that everyone felt a bit sorry for me. I don’t mind hanging out alone – prefer it in fact – but only when it’s clear it’s my choice to be alone. The collective pity of those around me just defeats the whole purpose. I won’t tell you how awesome Casablanca is though. You already know it’s awesome, and if you don’t think so, you’re a silly twat. What I will do is give another shout out to Harlem Cafe for:
A. Hosting the night.
B. Serving awesome food.
C. Staff who are nice to me even when I regularly forego said awesome food for an espresso, or in this case, whiskey.
D. Playing Frank fucking Sinatra, the Humphrey Bogart of music.
And now my coffee is all gone, I’m going to wrap this up and go drink at the bar by myself. Who knows – maybe of all the gin joints in all the world, Sasha Grey will walk into mine… Now that would be a fucking movie. Literally.
* Not a guarantee.
** At a childhood Butlins holiday I booted a football with pre-metrosexual-celebrity-David-Beckam-like accuracy through the ‘top prize’ hole and won one of those giant teddy bears.