There will always be smokers cluttering the entrance. Freshly exhaled nicotine wafting away in clouds. I would step out with my friends to stand beneath the streetlights and discuss the crowds. Escape the music and breathe the frigid night air.
Stepping back inside we'll drape our coats over a bar stool. Everything a soft orange glow beneath neon signs advertising Labatt, Bud and Stella Artois. Cheap hits play just loud enough so we have to lean in close. Nelly Furtado, Les Cowboy Frigant, Usher. We're all waiting our turn at the pool table. No one is brave enough to step onto the ten by ten hardwood against the wall, yet.
I am aware of everything. The way I hold my beer, trying not to warm it as I drink it slowly. The barmaids heels walking past my boots. Laughing at a joke, biting my lip, running my fingers through my hair.
I'll drop a loonie in the table. I'm usually the one with spare change. This time I play a French artist. We make a good challenge. I'll break, loving that first tight shot. The only one that always works. Not really caring who wins, just how well I play. I've learned to chalk my cue by rolling it with my foot, never doubting how cool this makes me. My French friend plays well, although I banter with him about how he'll lose. He is deep, that one. Too deep, really. I will miss him.
Leaning against the bar with the girls in my group we smile and talk about summers back home. I sip their coolers and look back at the tables. Brown bottles and green felt. Beer and billiards. It even looks good on a random who should really work out and wears slightly tacky t-shirts. Or maybe I shouldn't order another drink.
We will walk down the street, our breath crystallizing as we hurry to that basement place where we can afford the two dollar cover. Or maybe we'll go to the folky Rafiot with their live music, shandy and checker boards. Regardless, we'll always stop at Tim Horton's on the way back. I'll order a moyen Carmel Anglais for a dollar forty-nine and try to sit with whomever is still sober. It ends up making no difference.
Falling asleep on my rickety top bunk beneath that provided pink plaid comforter I forget to realize I'll never have a twentieth winter again.