Photo by me.
There’s nothing quite like getting your drink on once and a while.
Not getting drunk mind you; but having a few drinks can be fun especially if you have a drinking companion with whom to talk, laugh and observe the world through the prism of good drink. Angela and I do love to go wine tasting and also have enjoyed afternoons or evenings having a drink or two together at bars or restaurants as we chat, munch on appetizers and people watch. Neither of us are big drinkers but we do enjoy imbibing together once and a while.
I recall one evening where we spent the better part of an hour tracking down a winery we'd seen online. We had been to several wineries throughout the course of the afternoon and this was last on the list. It soon became as much about the chase as the wine and after a tenancious search we found it a woodsy neighborhood; all hills and narrow streets. The "tasting room" was a large garage filled with homemade wooden shelves stacked with cases of wine. It was after dark and cold; we really weren't dressed for hanging out in a drafty garage but Angela had called ahead to get directions and the woman there was nice enough to stay open until we arrived (which I guess meant keeping the garage door open. Despite the setting we enjoyed the wine and chatting with our hostess and wound up buying a couple bottles. There is another detail to this story I will leave out but that added a colorful footnote to the evening; Angela knows what I'm talking about. The rest of you get your minds out of the gutter.
On my last trip out to the west coast for one of the wonderful visits Angela and I share, I flew into Mineta San Jose International. It was early afternoon and I knew before coming out that day that Angela would be unavoidably detained for a couple hours after I arrived and would not able to meet me at the airport. Being the resourceful fella I am I figured I’d come up with something to do.
I wandered out towards the hotel shuttle pick-up area; the sun blindingly bright against the white concrete pavement. I donned my shades, threw my backpack over my shoulder and pulled my carry-on bag behind me over to the glass-enclosed shelters to wait on a shuttle. Long story short my plan was to snag a free ride on a shuttle to a nearby hotel to sit at whatever bar I found there.
So I waited on a shuttle...any shuttle. And waited.
Who knew Saturday afternoons at SJC would be so dead? This one certainly was. Finally a shuttle showed up but it had no hotel name on the side. Two pilots who had also been waiting got into it and from the interaction they had with the driver it appeared the shuttle was there specifically for them; not much chance of me glomming a ride. After they left it was down to me and some dude in a wheelchair. Meanwhile the cab stand just down the sidewalk 'a piece was starting to look pretty good. I used my iPhone to scope watering holes in downtown San Jose and found a bevy of them at a place called Santana Row. That was to be my new destination. I bid farewell and good luck to my wheeled friend and moseyed down to the hack stand where I stepped into one ready and waiting; the driver put my bags in the trunk and off we went.
Photo from Google Images
But I could have taken it; I was right there!
Twenty five dollars later (note to self: be more patient with the shuttles next time) the cabby dropped me off along a swanky-looking street lined palm trees, high end shops, a hotel or two and restaurants. The street was crowded with weekenders of all stripes, some wearing expensive clothes and $300 sunglasses and just as many wearing t-shirts and shorts. I fit in with my sport coat and jeans but was weighed down by my baggage (aren’t we all). The Hotel Valencia was right in front of me with a bar visible through its sidewalk windows. I walked over but there was no one in there then I noticed the sign that said they didn’t open until 5pm…about three hours.
So I kept looking. Fifteen minutes later I found a slick looking steak house that was open but nearly empty as it was that sweet spot right between the lunch and dinner crowds. I found my way to the empty bar, stacked my wheeled duffle bag and backpack at one end, introduced myself to the bartender and asked if he had someplace I could plug in my phone. Thankfully he did and I sent an email to Angela to let her know where she could find me.
Now, you have to understand the situation. I’d walked into Philly International shortly after parking my car in a long term lot at 5:30am Eastern Time that morning. It was now about 2pm Pacific Time, roughly eleven and a half hours since I’d seen anything but the inside of airports and the cramped aluminum tubes that tend to cluster around them.
I really wanted something to drink.
I decided to wait until Angela arrived to order food. Probably not the best move given the, ahem, light airplane fare I had been served but, throwing caution to the wind and knowing I wouldn’t be driving later, I ordered a vodka martini…up, with a twist.
Oh, it tasted good.
So I savored it enthusiastically until there was nothing left but the lonely lemon peel and ordered another one.
Mmm….just as tasty as the first.
I think those first two martinis lasted me about an hour. I sent a text to Angela, “Where are you?? I am here!” and included the picture that’s at the top of this post.
Her return message: “I’m in the parking garage across the street. I’ll be right there!”
And thankfully, she soon was.
The place was still empty and I said to the bartender, with whom I’d been chatting for a while, “hey, look…my girl’s going to be here in a few minutes and I haven’t seen her for three months. So, I’m going to kiss her…probably more than once. That cool?” He said that was just fine.
Then she walked in, looking beautiful as she always does.
And I did. More than once. And it was indeed fine.
As it is with us on every visit, it’s like we had never been apart and we started talking about this and that and of course, ordering another round. Oh, we did order some food, too.
I'll mention at this point that there is an etiquette to drinking in a public place that all experienced and responsible bar dwellers know. The object, of course, is to have a good time. A large component of that, to drink well if you will, is to enjoy those drinks but not lose oneself in the merrymaking. First and foremost you must know yourself, then factor in the pace of the drinking, food intake, when to drink water, and the length of your anticipated stay. All of these elements must be taken into account, especially if you plan to get behind the wheel upon departure. But even if you won't be driving, you must be mindful of becoming too...well, mirthful, when drinking in public. You do not want your enjoyment of the time, place and company to conflict or otherwise have a negative affect on the ability of your fellow bar patrons to enjoy the same. There is nothing more irritating than a fellow drinker who lacks said etiquette and thinks everyone else at the bar should be enjoying his or her drunken wit and charm.
Fortunately for us that day we had no issues with such rabble, like the drunken Bostonian we encountered in Half Moon Bay (his accent was right out of Good Will Hunting's casting call). We observed the rules of the fine art of bar drinking ourselves and for two or three hours we sat there and talked, laughed, drank and ate…and it was great. The bartenders were professional; there when you needed them, not hovering when you didn’t. The place was dimly lit but large amounts of sunlight poured in from the windows along the sidewalk so it wasn’t dark. We enjoyed each other while enjoying the cool elixir that condensed the moisture in the air against our martini glasses in a way science explains but which explanation fails to acknowledge the refreshing splendor of that cool, wet glass balanced just so in your fingers.
The place started to fill up after a while and we had someplace else to be so at last we decided to give up our barstools and get moving. It had been a memorable afternoon...though for the most part it had been just the two of us at the bar it was festive, relaxing and we had a wonderful time. The dinner we had later that night in Santa Cruz tasted unbelievably good, no doubt due in part to the appetite we'd worked up earlier.
Oh, I know hanging out and drinking at a bar isn’t for everyone. And for me a lot of the time a beer on the porch at the end of a long day is every bit as enjoyable. But dammit, we had fun that afternoon.
That's the problem with drinking, I thought, as I poured myself a drink. If something bad happens you drink in an attempt to forget; if something good happens you drink in order to celebrate; and if nothing happens you drink to make something happen. - Bukowski
Another photo by me.
Yeah, no shit.