I’m sitting at the bar next to two men, one of whom is clearly drunk.

“It’s his birthday,” I hear his less-drunk friend say to the group of young women who are stalking bar seats behind him.

I’ve come to the restaurant just shy of dinner service.  The bar is busy, but the dining room is not.  Yet.  It’s almost 5:30pm and I’ve just left the office.  It’s Saturday.  I try not to work on the weekends, though sometimes I fail.  But I needed to catch up, and I needed some peace of mind.  You do what you gotta do to be able to sleep at night.

A spot opens up at the end of the bar, and I jump on it.

“Do I smell bad?” the birthday boy asks me, joking, as I pack my belongings and begin moving to my new seat.

I laugh. “No.  But happy birthday.”

“When’s your birthday?”

Uh oh. I’m not trying to encourage drunk conversation.

“July,” I say in a pleasant way that encourages drunk conversation.

“Well, then. We almost share a birthday quarter.”  He pauses. “Hope you have a good night.”

Sometimes things work out as you hoped.

I settle in, nestling in the end seat against the wall so it feels like I’m with the masses and away from them at the same time.  I’m not typically chatty in a bar situation, so this works for me.

This is the first time this week I’m neither tired nor in desperate need of coffee nor in the middle of swirling chaos.  In the pre-dinner lull of this restaurant, it is the first time my head is clear and I feel unworried.  I order a drink.

It arrives looking beautiful yet unfussy, peach and gold and pink hued.  It tastes bitter, sweet, and smoky all at once.

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The woman bartender, who simultaneously has a “don’t mess with me” and sisterly way about her, gets busier as more people sit.  She is now tag-teaming the bar with her male counterpart.  He checks in on me occasionally.  I can tell he recognizes me from previous visits, but he doesn’t say this.  He speaks to me in a low voice he doesn’t use on the other customers.  It seems almost flirtatious, even though he’s probably 20 years younger than me.

I’m okay with this.

After I savor a couple of small plates, my sister-like bartender asks if I want dessert.

“You know what I would really like?  An order of those fish tacos.  That will be my dessert.”

She smiles.  “I think that sounds perfect.”

And it was.

xo, with goodness and grace.

 

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