You sit in smoke residue and drink strong tea, or warm beer, and you are happy. You love the shuffling in, the shared sense of shame and mischief and mutual addiction: no one has ever wandered into a darkened pub in a snowstorm at 8am on a Sunday by accident. Men, young and old, shake snow off jackets, the night before still written on their faces, and in their hair. You attempt to remember a time when you were content to spend Sunday mornings pressed up against and screaming with, sometimes at, only one dirty, hungover boy. Now anything less than fifty is a disappointment. But the sleepy smell of contented aggression, of soap and the scorned possibilities of soap, is the same.
Every once in a while there’s a girlfriend along, half-awake and texting. You’re careful not to judge them: after all, you started as a girlfriend enjoying the simple idea of the game, the feeling of the pub. But then you didn’t want to be a girlfriend anymore, and then you weren’t, and you realized you found neither the feeling nor the idea simple at all. So you kept coming. Anyway, usually there aren’t girlfriends or any girls at all that early in the morning. There is only you.