The Attic -- Guest Review by Owen, October 21, 2001
I hate the Attic, but there was a party there on Thursday that I had to go to. Law school thing. See and Be seen. I had already primed my reviewer's pen with beer and several shots of cheap rye, so I thought I would have a couple more drinks, see and be seen, and then head home early. About ten o'clock, the place fills up, packing in with more and more sweating smoking bodies, restricting movement, gyrating, dancing, leaning on tables and walls, eyes probing for a likely kill, chests thrust out, hands on friendly forearms, eye contact. The soundtrack flows into a strange mixture of not-quite retro, not quite top-40 pop bubblegum dance music, with a crowd that doesn't care, fulled with cheap highballs poured light and fast, and bottles of beer. Cheap, badly made student abstact oil paintings cling to the walls above the worn fabric of the benches that circle the room, acting more as long coatracks than as seating. I feel a slow depression of loneliness among friends creep over me as the music and lights turn the bar into a nightmare parody of a high school dance distorted through the lens of a dozen drinks. One TV plays a bloody gun battle in Palestine, while the other plays Survivor Africa. I revel in my solitude as I read the cover of a matchbook on the table, "The Attic - Whyte Ave's Hottest New Disco!" My rock and roll heart prays for disco's quick demise, and I toy with the idea of going up the street to Filthy McNasty's. I'm about to get my coat off of the back of the chair where it is hanging, when the Aussie walks in. "Owen!" she screams over the music, "I've just come from a dinner interview with Firm X! These are Bert and Ernie, they're the ones who were doing the interview. Is there some sort of party here tonight?" My depression changes colour. Firm X had sent me a letter saying thank-you for your interest in the firm, we will let you know if you will be granted an interview. Funny way of letting me know, but effective enough. It's now 11:00, the place is packed, and on the strength of the Aussie's introduction, I start drinking with Bert and Ernie. On their tab. Suddenly, it is as though the skies have cleared. Some are here for a prize of one kind, but now I too have something I can take home from here. I'm on the Schmooze. The only problem is that I'm facing two Lawyers, fresh from dinner with a bellyful of pasta. I haven't eaten anything since five o'clock, but I have had about a case of beer head start on these two. What's a guy to do but count on his own ability to stay focused under stress and booze and dive in. From here on in, the evening is a bit of a blur. The night coming out as a series of scenes from an Oliver Stone movie. Laughing, drinking, dancing, schmoozing, drinking, pouring out half of a shooter when nobody is looking, leaving a beer in the bathroom, keeping up the appearances of keeping up when in fact I'm way ahead, and I want to get off this ride. The Aussie puts on her coat and says her goodbyes. Ernie says, "I'll leave when Owen Leaves." By now the non-law crowd are packing the place and the word has gone around the young women that most of these guys are lawyers or law students. The sense of being among hunters increases. I stand near the door, where the cold wind from the street tries to disperse the thick haze of DuMaurier Extra Light and the cold starts to snap me back to life. I look at my Kokanee, and start to peel the label. A mass of curly hair in a baby-t and a lot of makeup strikes up a conversation. For a moment I think she may be one of the hundreds of people who know me, though I don't know them. I'm polite, I'm as charming as I can be with over 20 drinks in me, and slowly it dawns on me that I do not know this woman, and she is coming on to me. This is an entirely new experience to me. I don't think that I have ever been hit on in a bar before. Not that I've noticed anyway. I suggest that perhaps if she is chatting me up in a bar that she may already have had too much to drink. "Oh, nohhhhhh, don't say thaaaahhhht." She goes on to talk about how her friends seem to have abandoned here here, and she's looking for honesty, isn't honesty important? Searching for honesty at The Attic on a Thursday night is a non-starter. One may as well search for Atlantis in the bathtub. The goal, on Thursday night at the Attic, is not to find an honest relationship with a trusting partner. The goal on Thursday night At the Attic is to find a willing body to keep you warm that night. I tell her, "Yes, my fiancee told me once that trust and honesty are two of the most important elements of a relationship." Watch baby-t dissappear. As the night wears on, the drinks flow, and the world becomes a glassy flat wasteland of alcohol and cigarette smoke. Last call meets the last dance, and I walk into the night, walking up Whyte avenue at closing time feeling violence around me in the motions of the young men who are going home alone. The walk is sobering, the fresh air welcome. I survive another night on the piss. How many more times I can do it is unclear. In the morning I feel like I spent the night before being beaten with a case of grapefruit, and something smells terrible. Oh. It's me.
The Attic gets three and a half pints. They are pints of cheap highballs made with off-brand liquor poured into a mid-priced brand's bottle, and mixed so fast that if you don't know what you're looking for you won't notice that you're only getting about 3/4 of an ounce. But if you need to have sex with a random partner tonight, well, it's just that kind of bar. Bear in mind, that I hate the Attic, but I am reviewing it on the basis of what it is -a student pickup joint- and in that regard, it is one of the best off campus.