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October 20, 2009

BARHOPING  #20090912

Worth Groaning For

Most of these trips to the bar are uneventful passings of a couple hours, drinking a couple of drafts, listening to a band. I tried unsuccessfully to retrieve my email of episode #2007XXXX. I was told it was weird. What was weird? A retiree that frequents Steppin' Out tells me I look so lonely. I joked in my write-up about that old pickup line. Don't worry I wasn't at that dance place trying to pick up hottie blue-hairs doing the Macarena or line dancing or whatever they do at Steppin' Out. I was on the Catch31 patio listening to a band on the smaller stage which I prefer to the big stage. Long story short she talked my ear off about her family tree...the family's civil war heroes, ok, kind of interesting as I had dabbled with my own genealogy... European nobility, hmmm... famous Romans, uh... traced all the way back, I kid you not, to Adam and Eve. Whew, I mean, who knew the Jews and the Romans got it on so well together. Anyway, just a little story about a minor misadventure.

Back to this night, I had gone out to check out what kind of a place Kokoamos was and lasted all of a bottle of beer and a half before I left and decided to go to G.F.Keagans at Hilltop. It's certainly not a pickup spot. There's rarely much of a crowd there, but I don't mind going there by myself so that's where I go the most. It's right around the corner from home and there's usually a good band or solo act playing, without the flashy display you get at the oceanfront.

Tonight was no different. A few of the 10 or so tables were taken and some bar stools were available where I seated myself. I settled in as comfortably as I could with the music and my pint, Tori behind the bar and a game or two on the tellies--no worries. Not long after, a beautiful trio walked in. One of them had both hands in the air alternately reaching higher cheering the band on, a smile that filled the room, animated, compelling, fantastic...

Of all the gin joints in all the towns in the world she walks into mine.  

I wasn't as articulate as Bogey so I just groaned. It had taken a mere 30 seconds since I first laid eyes on her to cast my visceral judgment. I could barely hear it myself over the band so I assumed no one else could, but a guy with his back to me at the closest table turned around for a moment.

A couple of songs later three guys walked in. She stopped them as they walked by. I couldn't hear what was said, but she stole a bright reddish ball cap from one of them and sat down while the guys walked up to the bar to buy some drinks. I asked one who wasn't the owner of the cap if he knew her. He hesitated so long I thought he hadn't heard me, but with a world-weary tone he finally said, Yeah.... I know her. I thought I could detect a groan in there as if Nick Nolte had said it, and it was probably still assuming a lot, but it sounded as if he felt she was almost more trouble than she was worth.

The band took a break so I walked outside on the deck for a bit. When I came back in a girl had sat down two barstools away from mine dressed in some navy blazer trimmed all around with a white hem. I guess you could say she was cute in a tough sort of way like the wife next door in Married With Children. The guy missing his ball cap asked her if the seat between us was available. It is, for you. It was the most suggestive you I could imagine. At that he slid the stool within inches of mine. Damn, now that I think of it that cap was awfully pink. Hopefully, it was actually hers. Dude! Ok, I don't say dude, but it was implied as I stared at and willed that seat through an Einsteinian mental effort to a more neutral position.

It was happening a lot tonight, I was back to sipping my cerveza when my cell of solitude was broken. The guy who had heard a guttural sound behind him an hour earlier turned around again and this time introduced himself. He was quick to explain that he had a friend he thought I would be good for and he showed me a tiny picture of her on his flip phone. For all I could tell it was Uma Thurman or him in a wig. Maybe I should have been more enthused. Here he was trying to find a nice guy for his good friend. Maybe that should be enough. But was I nice? Sure I was once shy, but damn it, hadn't he heard me groan before! Hadn't he put two and two together! Hadn't he figured out I can work up a little edge if you give me a month or so to write about it! Since he wasn't one of Dionne Warwick's psychic friends I told him a little about myself and found out a little about him and his friend.

He left after a bit. He had suggested the possibility of her dropping by the bar the following week so we left it at that, but maybe she was as unsure about whatever tiny profile she had received of me. Stretching the legs, I stood up, back to the bar and arms spread to each side along the edge. I had lost track of my trio. One was missing. One, who was apparently with the drummer, was at her own table. Fantastic and Nolte were at the adjacent four-top with one table between us. It wasn't long before the music had slowed and she was on her feet, smiling cutely and waving with both hands towards her. I looked left, and then right. No one, and she was still beckoning. I checked again even looking behind the bar. Then I mouthed a doubtful, à la Sixteen Candles, Who...me?

She wanted to dance. I protested mildly holding up my almost empty beer in defiance which was snatched away from me and set aside. We started dancing close to each other and then closer. I was about as comfortable dancing as her squashed toes, but I was enjoying the company and relished the closeness, her cheek against mine. She apologized for being drunk, but I doubted her. I accused her of being with the guy at the table she had abandoned. Oh, him, he was a friend she had known since she was this tall, holding her hand somewhere lost below her breasts.

Maybe abandoned was the wrong word. There's no dance floor at Keagan's. We tripped the light fantastic within a five-foot square defined by the stage and three tables, one of which was his. Oh, shit, she began to test my support by leaning back a little, then another, back bent, full dip for a view of the stage. Her last dip was aligned perfectly, smiling smartly upside down at her childhood friend.

Fantastic had a first name, as did the other who was her sister and a singer at the Cobalt Grille. And my name was common to a relative of theirs and to Garfunkle. I hadn't heard that last comparison in years, so her taste in music must have gone beyond her generation. She had introduced me to her laid-back friend so we were all one big happy family. I still don't know the story behind our dance, but since I'm a nice guy I'll assume that her friend had refused to dance before she recruited me. It was closing in on 1 am and I still had to do laundry for Saturday's trip to Harrisonburg so I took the last sip of my second beer there, hugged her and said goodbye, and left with a little more hope than when I'd walked in.





My jaded portrayal aside, I liked her and the way she talked of her sister. I had looked up the Cobalt Grille to see when Angie played. It had a Facebook page, Angela also had one and a last name, Greek it seemed, and so my dancer had a MySpace. Alas, she was only 26. I still wanted to hear her sister, Angie, sing, but I didn't get over there for a month. I was a little hesitant to go to the restaurant alone. I had looked in a couple of weeks before with a couple of friends, but it was a little late and we didn't see anyone playing so we headed over to Keagans instead. Tonight there were some people sitting out front. I started to walk by and then saw a girl playing guitar and singing.

This night was different. This time it was a couple of little faces waving at me through the window. So I walked in. Among the audience I didn't expect to see her. I walked by her on my way to the bar smiling, Oh no, not you! She didn't say anything, but tilted her head back and laughed wonderfully. I was surprised to be recognized. Maybe it helped that I was again wearing my favorite navy blue button down from Jos.A.Bank, an exchange of a Christmas gift sent from my Auntie Mumsie. It's great because it comes out of the wash without need of the misplaced iron I have little idea how to use.

The little faces were great. This night they were the center of attention. I knew they were hers. Still can't believe three of them, 7, appropriately singing All I Want For Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth, 4 1/2, and 2 1/2, all girls. My sister's kids are great, but they can be like little ticking time bombs that go off after 8 pm. The kids had such blonde hair that I thought they might be the guy's that I had met last time, but I was wrong and she stuck by her story about him from the previous month. And her sister told me that after I had left she was the one left to prop up my dance partner. Well, even her somewhat drunk legs were nimbler than my soberest legs, and somewhere there was a lie or an occasion for cocktails because her MySpace listed a boring no next to drinker.

The kids bummed orange slices and Maraschino cherries from the bartendress just like my brother and sister and I used to do. Maybe my imagination was rampant, but I'm pretty sure mom entertained by tying a knot in a cherry stem with her tongue. The littlest was here and there, climbing a barstool, running to the back of the restaurant, even adding a few beats to the bongo—not too disruptive and as cute as can be, and the music went on. They played some Beatles, Yesterday, I think some Fiona Apple, others I knew and some I didn't.

Angie has a great voice, rich, and a little sultry and fairly low, but she also sang some in a higher range. I don't know enough about voice to know if she was singing falsetto then. It's pretty easy for me to tell when a guy is using falsetto, and my falsetto is really obvious because it sounds like crap. Oh, well. I've hardly played or sung in the privacy of my own home for a long time. Maybe I'll take some guitar lessons to get me back into it. I'm sure I'd pick up more now than I had from the guitar-toting nuns in elementary school. I'll definitely go back to Cobalt again to enjoy the music.

I left when the last couple left, about 10:45. It had been nice so I went home early to write a little and get some sleep in case the rain stopped in time for the Saturday morning ride.



singer and dancer

dance abstract sketch
Always liked the idea of a woman who could get me to dance... A good Greek eyebrow is fantastic too.

Last word

When I wrote this I thought to myself, She'll probably hate me for writing this and think that I love her. Impossible. That must be a logical fallacy. My friends, at least, seemed to assume the latter. What got to me was her reaction to my fun words, all right maybe a tiny bit of too strong a light, but really celebratory words. The final wave came to me from across a room after she had read this. It was the sarcastic wave a third-grade girl makes to a boy who had wronged her.