Wow. Just ... wow. I'm going to let Owl Meat tell this story. It almost needs no introduction. Here's Owl Meat:
Phil Collins caused my gruesome death. Indirectly, but still. (As if "Sussudio" wasn't sufficient torture already.)
Let me explain. I was at the bar of a restaurant having a very mellow time. The bar was nearly empty with just two women next to me. They were trying to get the bartender to change the radio until they found something they liked.
I was surprised that this bartender would do it. They were yelling through me across the bar as the bartender changed from Big Hits, Hit Tracks, Classic Rock, or whatever those banal XM "stations" are called.
They switched back and forth between English, Romani (I think) and a mix of both. The topic seemed to be Phil Collins. They were repeating over and over that he was Australian. With the best of friendly intentions, I glanced up from my netbook and said, "I think Phil Collins is English." That was all. The manager was standing next to me and we started talking.
About two minutes later they paid their check, stood up and starting screaming at me ...
They yelled that I was spying on them and that I had no right to interfere in their private conversation. Then the most florid string of swearing filled the bar. Stuff that you reserve for someone who murders your children or worse. Just extreme.
I looked at my friend the manager, she looked at me, we looked at the bartender. We were awestruck. No one could compute what had just happened.
I didn't have time to object and then she put a curse on me. Seriously, a spit-on-the-ground Gypsy curse. I can't repeat it, but basically she wished that I would die alone while being treated in a most undignified violent manner by another man.
The two women left and the three of us looked at each other, paused, and almost busted a gut laughing. It was surreal.
Here's my problem: The inferior quality of Gypsy curses these days. Come on, if someone is going to murder me and stick around to defile my corpse, that's hardly dying alone.
While this is an insane example, it begs the question: How much privacy should you expect at a bar?
In reality you should have no expectation of privacy in a bar. On the other hand, you should be respectful of butting into others' conversations. It's tricky. A bar can be a great place to meet and talk to new people, but some people don't want to talk to you. Any thoughts or stories?
I know I will not die alone. I will die with people asking me to google the O's score, the lottery numbers and the movie schedules. That is the curse of the netbook and Wi-Fi.
(Baltimore Sun archive photo)