Standing at the bar, the night lay out before us unplanned, its potential at its zenith. “There is no tomorrow,” my friend Andy says before taking a gulp from his pint. “No,” I agree, downing my first short. “Not tonight.”
The place was busy going on packed. We watched the bar girls for a moment, darting about in their confined space, serving punters on each side of the bar that connected this room and the one next door. They chat, laugh, dodge one another, all smiles and blonde hair; they look up from pouring pints and smile flirtatiously, forcing the shy among us to admire the head on their pints or play with their phones.
Much later, after the shouting, the dancing, the drinking and the rain had subsided, and the non-existent tomorrow had become today, I stood for some time at a second floor window watching taxis pass in the road below. It had been a house party, but now it was just a house again. Whose house, I do not know. Whoever had been so adamantly in charge of the music when I arrived must have passed out; some wannabe DJ with baggy trousers and enough attitude to fill them, if I remember rightly. Now just a hubbub of voices rose up through the floor of those too wasted to make it home.
The girl who had accompanied me to this room an hour before had long since left “to go to the bathroom”. I had assumed this was her room, but then I might be wrong. In fact, I had been increasingly discounting that theory after I saw her leave the house and jump in a cab with some bloke. She even turned and smiled conspiratorially before getting in. Made me feel better and stupid at the same time.
I had spent half the night talking to her after we met in the club. She acted cold and then coy to my half-hearted advances. I did not care for this girl, or as to the outcome, but it was something to do and she had a nice smile. She repeatedly made innuendoes or became flirtatious just enough to keep me interested when I was about to give up and leave. After more than an hour of meandering in the general direction of one of the bedrooms, she buckled, or unbuckled rather, under the pressure and we came to this room.
Walking home, intending to catch a cab on the way, my addled mind was wandering about in a drunken disorderly fashion. If my brain had been controlling my body I’m sure I would have been slaloming along, but as it was my physical functions were on auto-pilot. It is a good policy, cutting out about half the distance by walking in a relatively straight line and you are able to forget about the length of the walk, the mind wholly distracted. It thinks it is delegating responsibility in order to be free to think of higher matters, whereas in reality I merely allow my brain to think of rubbish so I can get home before dawn.
The future is disclosed to us all, like some form of water torture, I thought abstractly on this particular night. Seconds drip like escaping water from the reservoir of time, or from the fountains of our youth. Oh dear.
The future, I philosophised, is an equation of today’s circumstances and the sum of our actions within it, plus a healthy sprinkling of fate, if you believe in that. But what if we all decided on a particularly good day (bright blue sky, early August, a Saturday perhaps) to just stop going forwards into the future? We could travel perpendicular to the advancing time.
Now don’t be rational and consider for a moment how we would all become different. It would be to sever our fear of the future from the future. It would nullify the fear of consequences that may lead from today’s actions, a fear that normally constrains those actions and inhibits us. I would like to see a No Tomorrow Day (pencil it in for early August) when the next day would not follow the previous, and nothing would be carried forward. It would be twenty-four hours of living for the moment and seizing the day. Would everyone be able to do that, live for now, on the same day? People would be sure to get hurt.
The logistics of it are just too difficult to go into. The chances are that a mass attempt of carpé diem just cannot be done. For those who boast they live by this creed, I seriously doubt it. These people cannot seize the day everyday, can they? I’d be impressed if they did. And if they do, then surely others will miss out. It dawned upon me, still walking in the dark, that for there to be winners, there has to be losers. And so, what am I?
How profound for the lateness of the hour. I congratulated myself by announcing all this out loud to the empty street. My voice sounded hollow and hoarse. And no one replied.