Art by Sean Von Gorman

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Dear guy at the bar on his computer,

I’m writing this letter to tell you that I am sorry. I’m sorry I ever hated you. In fact, I miss you. I miss your New Balance sneakers and the BERNIE bumper sticker on your MacBook. I miss the way you pretended you didn’t hear the bartender when she asked if you wanted another drink. It’s crazy, but I can’t stop thinking about you. We don’t even know each other. I was that person at the end of the bar making fun of you. Remember, the one with the rosé, rolling their eyes?

You would squeeze yourself in between a first date and a group of people watching the playoffs. What were you writing? Nobody knows. Maybe a novel about falling in love on a random lake. A detailed Yelp review, because Subway wasn’t open till 9 PM as it said on the website, and when you tried to wave to the man inside he ignored you. Or perhaps you were just searching for Old Navy coupons. Whatever you were doing, you wanted us to know it was important.

You would slowly sip your house wine as you stared into the bright screen and mutter “hmm” over and over again. Your way of letting the entire bar know you were “thinking,” or maybe you were spiraling because your ex stopped watching your Instagram stories. Sometimes guests would be intrigued by you and try to start a conversation. “Are you a writer?” a drunk stranger would ask, and you would brush them off, acting like you were annoyed. But you lived for that moment when someone acknowledged you. It kept you coming back. You wouldn’t get that attention if you were in some downtown coffee shop.

Now with bars closed, I can’t help but wonder where you are, whatever happened to you? I know you won’t settle for a home office. That’s just not like you. I imagine you sitting alone on a ferry in the dead of winter, everyone else inside on the lower level, but not you. Or in a hospital waiting room, the sounds of the ER giving you a rush, that patient with an object stuck in their butt inspiring a love story. Or maybe you are blocking an aisle in a supermarket. When a little old lady asks you to pass the oatmeal, you simply say, “Sorry, I don’t work here.”

Wherever you are, I hope you are okay and that you are writing before a captive audience.

Kristin Manna

P.S. Do you want to be on my trivia team?