"A one, two, three, four...". The bartender recited my change with military precision.
Deploying the copper soldiers into my outstretched, eager palm, his voice flickered with a false enthusiasm. His acne accentuated face dripped with disinterest as he muttered his scripted pleasantry.
I didn't really mind, as I had long before shifted my gaze to his forearm tattoo - its sharp, jagged points wrapping and warping like arms through bars, trying to escape an inky prison.
It was a permanent, fleshy name badge, reading 'Brad'.
Why had I asked for lager again? I don't even hold much of a candle for the fizzy variety, much less the tasteless vase of warm glow presented before me.
Perhaps my inexplicable request had stemmed from my inability to cope with the pressure of a quiet bar and an impatient barman.
In those situations, it seems that I am pre-programmed to select a default choice - lager. Of course, 'Brad' was only too happy to oblige.
Now, underwhelmed by my hasty purchase, and having tardily processed the fact that, actually, I quite fancied a mojito.
There's something about the kind of person who can confidently stride into a bar and sit alone, sipping a mojito.
I often conclude that it is almost exclusively the activity of rare James Bond characters - the men who pull bawling babies from burning buildings, gracefully jump into a stategically-parked top down convertible, and then speed home to read GQ in their penthouse. All whilst wearing a tux.
I looked on as he hastily married his dry towel to the moist marble surface, and did for a moment consider requesting an alternative - but quickly surrendered that bold notion.
It wasn't Brad's fault, after all. What power did he have if the bubbles refused to cooperate? He wasn't even a supervisor.
Instead, I merely knocked back his sympathetic glance with a knowing nod, and bitterly began to swallow down my dead purchase in the most mournful manner I could reasonably muster, considering my lack of acting ability.
As I theatrically choked down a likely unhealthy swill of my flat treat, I was quickly distracted by an angst-sodden group of teenagers entering stage left.
The ringleader, approximately ten stone of problem child, was a walking black mood housed under a Burberry roof.
Apparently thriving in this clammy climate, and spurred on by the poisonous plip of his Euro trance ringtone, he strode quickly toward the bar.
As his large feet went crashing forth, as though surfing on steel toe capped Rockport waves, he boomed a noisy request for three pints of lager, and I did for a moment wonder if the pressure had affected him too.
Ordinarily, I would have offered him a helpful review of my negative experience, but as he cast me a murderous look, I thought better of it.
"What?" he grunted in my direction. As the threat of a happy slap shocked me out of my grumpy trance and back into an uneasy reality, I concluded that I must have failed to hide my amusement at their antics.
Well, as mentioned previously, acting isn't my strongpoint.
Shrugging and sinking back into the familiar frothy depths of my golden enemy, I counted my blessing as the thirsty inquistor turned away to review the status of his pending transaction.
Ironically, it seemed that my misplaced choice - our only common ground - had probably saved me.
Imagine if I'd ordered the mojito.