Stories culled right from my life. Sometimes with guest stars.
It was a Friday night. What are three guys like us to do? We could go out anywhere, as long as it was to a place none of us had ever been. We set out for the first window full of neon lights we saw.
As soon as we crossed the threshold we learned what the kids mean when they talk about the “townie bars”. Lots of older dudes lavishing attention on the (much) younger women. They seemed to have a good assortment of bottles behind the bar so we saddled up. That’s when things got odd, which is what we were looking for.
The bartendess—we’ll call her Carla—strolls up and asks for IDs. This was ironic since I’m pretty sure the table of girls being hit on by the middle aged construction workers was actually celebrating the S.A.T.s (four digit scores this time! break out the reserve Midori.) Two thirds of our IDs were out of state which also meant the photos were no less than four years old. Carla gave us grief. More grief then I ever had years ago when I used to be from Maine. At some point I realized the concern was no longer professional and she was flirting. Somewhere across space and time in Bizzarro Rochester the three of us must have been drinking green tea and trading bedroom eyes with perfect ten models.
It is at this point I must pause to remind us all that “flirting” does not always gaurantee success and finesse. Carla procedded to quiz us on the music we listened to back in ’82 (Baby Beethoven of course, so I could learn my shapes quicker and eventually graduate from an acredited institution) along with various other one-sided banter that went from cute to old faster than the female to male ratio at the bar. If that wasn’t enough, Carla was clawing at Kris’s wallet like the bears at the zoo when you give them a peanut butter jar.
Two older (and drunker) men seated on the corner of the what I can only assume to be mahogony bar joined in the fray. Having no doubt earned their epic alcohol tolerance through many nights of sitting alone watching NYPD Blue, they made an offer to ‘lean on us’ if we were giving Carla a hard time. While I tried to decide if it was more likely that either man was Carla’s father or just her ‘daddy’ the one guy put me in a headlock and playfully punched me in the head a few times. I learned something that I will now share with you: three punches are funny, five punches are weird, seven punches have earned a response. Luckily he realized this too. As the smell of Preferred Stock started to mellow we finally got our drinks. We decided that regardless of how long Carla or the men had looked at our liceneses, no one here knew our name and no one—including us—were glad we came.
We got a booth and after the third time Carla came over with an achingly awkward attempt at conversation Kris realized that the standard dollar bill tip was not usefull here and sent her away with a clue instead. She asked “What are you guys doing here?” “Here” was assumed to reference the bar, probably because that was the question we were all asking ourselves. She was, however, referring to Rochester in general. We told her we lived here, had gone to school here. This seemed to vex her terribly (no Baby Beethoven for Carla I guess). “What school?” she asked. “Middle School” said Kris affectively closing our social tab for the evening.
Seeing the bar as a backdrop for what we definitely didn’t want made it easier to discuss what we all did. Mostly to make a name for ourselves and a lot of money while we’re at it. Before we’re tagged as Generation Y primadonnas let me emphasize that most of our conversation centered on how our graduating class seem to be the last to have a sense of the hard work and maturity needed to succeed.
Then a hot girl came in and we got back on track. What? We’re in a townie bar. You dont go to a Korn concert and listen to Edith Piaf on your iPod. Now, for those of you not from Rochester or a similar area, a hot girl entering a sausage laiden bar is visually akin to setting down a bowl of food for a half dozen hungry dogs. You see it for a moment, then it’s gone, and all you hear is growling.
The girl was hot– little white tank top over tanning-bed-crisp skin with just a hint of the lower back tatoo peering out from above her l.e.i. jeans. Inexplicably, none of us were that impressed. I wouldn’t have talked to her. Neither, it seemed, would Kris or Drew. We were surprised. Why was this? Then Kris made it clear. “Girls like that, they don’t appreciate the things guys like us have to offer which is fine because we wouldn’t appreciate the things she’s got to offer us.” Wow. Nailed it! I used to think people like this girl were ignorant, naive, lazy or worse–mediocre. I see now they’re specialists and they orbit in circles that don’t intersect with my own. I’m sure many of them see me as pretentious (maybe), effeminent (huh?) and geeky (guilty). As obvious as this is now, when he said it a light clicked on. Not just for girls either. I see now that I’ve become part of a larger group, a demographic, and there are lines where I see the other side and the grass is not greener.
The chat then turned to how we find people that might want what we have or have something we might want. Guess what? All of us would like to own and operate a bar. Specifically one that offered some desserts, tapas, live jazz and blues, a bar that was about as similar to the one we were in as a state fair is to a farmer’s market.
For the first time in years, I had that feeling of possibility. That feeling I’d get when I was young and thought about girls, or college, or summer vacation, or anything I hadn’t done yet that was sure to be great. It’s that sense of imagination and gleeful ignorance; of risk and delight.
Now, what are three guys like us to do now? We decided we need to try and do something. We all can go anywhere, as long as it is a place none of us have ever been. So now we’re driving, looking for the first neon lights that catch our eye.Permalink