I can’t help thinking about what would happen if Emily Dickinson went to a bar.
It’s mostly to make up for the fact that I don’t go to bars anymore, because I haven’t had a drink in over a month and don’t think I will for a really long time. But let’s think about Emily Dickinson in a bar. There’s a guy across the room with some really phenomenal muttonchops (is this bar still stuck in the 1800’s? I don’t know. Does Emily Dickinson have a thing about men with muttonchops? Photographic evidence suggests yes, but that might just be a symptom of the time during which she lived, not necessarily her personal tastes) and a strong, Roman nose. She looks down into her gin & tonic (would Dickinson drink anything else?) and stares at the rinds of the lime the bar tender squeezed into it.
Emily Dickinson hasn’t left her house in over a century. She feels like a ghost.
But there’s that guy across the room and she also knows what it’s like to go without a warm body for a century, and that maybe she’d prefer it for now. “Water, is taught by Thirst,” and all that. Emily Dickinson has a 21st century friend who calls her “thirsty” and maybe that 21st century friend is right.
She crosses the room, emboldened and brave. She used to be popular. She used to be a lot of things. People used to die a lot more often and live for a lot less time.
This muttonchopped man smiles easily. Maybe this could be a good thing. Maybe this could be what Emily Dickinson has been waiting for. They’re talking, talking, talking, and he goes to take a sip of his hard apple cider (I assume any man with muttonchops today might boast about liking their whiskey, but they claim to be picky, and instead choose Angry Orchard).
Emily Dickinson notices there’s a fly in it and she could say something but by this point it is Too Late. When he sets the glass back down, the fly is gone.
“I have to leave,” she says.
“Can I get your number?”
“I don’t have a phone.”
When Emily Dickinson says it, it’s not a lie. She escapes from the bar after three gin & tonics (maybe four, and they might have all been doubles because bartenders love Emily Dickinson), stumbles her way back home. Amherst or somewhere else in Massachusetts—maybe she relocated to be involved with a literary scene. Maybe she had regrets about never talking to someone like Emerson in her lifetime. She knows she wouldn’t have gotten anywhere with Thoreau.
She thinks about the fly stuck in the anonymous man’s throat and doesn’t regret not telling him.