Shutting your Hand in the Door

You enter first.

Shutting your Hand in the Door
Photo by QUI NGUYEN / Unsplash

by Anna Tregurtha

Pt. 1 The Approach

Neither of us drink but we are going to a bar. A desire to sip soda while aspiring singer songwriters play on a busy street in Culver City. 

I have never been before, I live Very North and Very East of the bar. Years ago, you lived around the corner for three months.

Pace the wide streets in anxiety and anticipation, having arrived too early to show our faces. We take a detour on the way and you show me your old bungalow. Since you moved out, it has become almost unrecognizable, totally redone, Home Depot style renovations, that sort of new that doesn’t actually look nice but is trying to, it looks like a copy stamped all over the city.

We make our way back to the bar. It is two storefronts down from “The Maple Block”, a nouveau-faux-artisinal joint with (as its name implies) a huge butcher block bar stretching behind the shining glass windows. We don’t even stop to look inside but with confidence and almost cliché there is certainty they serve beer inside to men with beards. Men with button up shirts and good jobs and fiancées and wives. To utter this observation out loud would be a cliché in itself. The observation is a copy. Stamped over and over.

The Cinema Bar greets us with a green neon light outside. It is also a copy, the old kind, the kind that is getting harder to find. A dive bar with a jukebox and a crowd of regulars. No fancy stuff. No frills.

Pt 2. Shutting your Hand in the Door

The painted wooden door of the bar opens outwards.

We enter and try to get around a tall pale brunette man with dreadlocks who is standing very close to the door, back turned, talking to another patron of the bar. He is blocking about 65% of the entrance. You are shy and polite, and would rather squeeze by than ask anyone to move.

You enter first.

You place your hand on the hinge of the door without realizing. Your finger parallel with the hinge.

You are trying to stabilize yourself against the wall to get past the tall pale man.

There is resistance against the door as I open it more to let myself in but I’m not sure why. Later I realize the resistance is your flesh squishing up and compacting.

As we open the door more and more, your hand gets more and more stuck in the entrance. Your hand is now completely stuck you scream my name so that the entire bar can hear. ANNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNA! 

I have no idea what is happening so I panic, trying to get inside the door faster, past the tall pale man, and keep shutting the door harder and harder, squeezing your pale Nordic hand until it gets a purple line on it.

After the moment, when your hand is unstuck, we look around the bar. It is a tiny room with 5 people inside, including the bartender. It is much smaller than I expected it to be. All of the lights are on. There is a tiny stage with no one on it. It feels like everyone is looking to witness the drama of the squeezed hand.

I excuse myself to the ladies room. I need to be somewhere where no one can see me. Carefully shutting this door and leaning my back against it I silently convulse, laughing, trying not to be heard. Silently choking against the bathroom door that has everlasting messages like “I love PUSSY” written on it in Sharpie.

I feel guilty leaving you alone in the room that witnessed the vulnerability of your hand. It’s important to offer support to loved ones if they need it.

Exiting the cave of the bathroom I almost run into you walking in circles around. You seem nervous.

There is a framed poster on the wall. It is colorful and not faded from the light of day, there are no windows in this bar, and has a glare on it from the lights on the stage, but if I’m looking at it right, it looks like Jenny Lewis performed here once. This adds a sense of meaning to the space.

The bartender’s name is Tony, we know that not because he tells us but because throughout the night patrons of the bar address him by name.

A man sings a song he wrote about how much he misses living in Ohio.

Another man plays the bass and performs a 45 second song with lyrics that can be summed up by

We are all

I don’t disagree with him. We are


A song about how we need rain. The singer-songwriter explaining it’s a strange week to perform the song, as it’s been raining nonstop for a week, flooding the streets of our dusty city. Cleaning off all the Home Depot bungalows and faux-artisanal-tragedies and divey bars alike.

When we leave you want to jaywalk across Sepulveda to get to my car. I am afraid of taking any more risks tonight. I’m impressed by your confidence that nothing bad will happen.

Anna Tregurtha is a writer and video artist. Her works have been published in super / natural by Perennial Press and POOL magazine. She graduated from VCUArts in Richmond, Virginia. She lives in Los Angeles.