The slap heard across the bar

Let me tell you, it was quite a shock, getting slapped last night. Getting slapped wasn’t such a shock, just that it wasn’t my girlfriend doing the slapping, but a friend’s girlfriend.

First, picture being at one of your favourite annual events, a party where you catch up with old friends, enjoy great music, get a little (or a lot) tipsy, and maybe get up and sing a song or two yourself. Guided by Robots is a yearly fundraiser in which a local (Vancouver band) takes over the intimate confines of a basement, living-room-size bar and plays songs by late, lamented indie-rock darlings Guided by Voices, then hands the microphone over to whoever wants to sing while fronting the band. Imagine yours truly, getting up there to sing, sometime around midnight, after the beer had been flowing, not to mention the double rums. After a song, I’m sitting with this friend’s girlfriend, whom I’ll refer to as F’sGF, mostly out of sympathy or duty—she left the boyfriend (my buddy) at home, she doesn’t know anyone else at the bar, she doesn’t even know the music the band is playing. (How she got it into her head to come here tonight, the first weekend night she was feeling “restless,” as she put it, in a couple of months, I can only imagine–she saying, “Gee, I really want to go out tonight,” and my buddy, laid up with a sore shoulder, saying, “Well, why don’t you go to such-and-such, Shawn’ll be there,” thinking at least she’d be somewhere where she knew someone.) Then along comes my friend the Professor. Now, the Professor can, when she puts her mind to it, offend people. Sometimes she even does it accidentally. But I didn’t see anything with what she said to F’sGF: “Where’s X [boyfriend]? Usually you’re a part of a unit.”

F’sGF: “That’s a weird thing to say.”

The Prof: “Is it? All I meant was I usually see you with X.”

This is where I decide to jump in. “He wouldn’t get up off the couch for this. This isn’t one of his favourite bands. Now, if it was Death Cab for Cutie…” at which point I started doing an imitation of Friend X complaining about his hurt shoulder. At which point I felt a slap on my cheek, hard. I was stunned, to say the least, as was the Professor. But at least I was getting used to being slapped thanks to the Texas Twister, who has made it standard operating procedure whenever I say something she doesn’t like. Gathering my righteous indignation, I stammered, “You’re out of line!” Girlfriend of Friend X apologized profusely, but the damage was done. She grabbed her stuff and left, leaving the Professor and I to stare at each other in disbelief.

Otherwise, the night was a triumph–people had a blast, and it was more packed on this night than any of the past shows. The band even raised $1,200 for the Vancouver Rape Relief and Women’s Shelter. Next year, I’m hoping the money raised will go to a man’s shelter, however; at the rate I’m going, I’ll need it.

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