Thursday, May 08, 2008

Fun at the Onion

First, I'd like to say you're welcome for another stunning example of my photographic prowess.
Yesterday was so achingly beautiful that I just couldn't stand to stay home and watch the paint dry. On a whim, I'd driven in to work and the minute the clock ticked five, I dashed downstairs, hopped in my buggy and threw back the top. There was still that sting of spring air, but the warm sun washed over me and seeped into my black hoodie sweatshirt. I put the Scissor Sister's Ta Dah into the CD player and cranked it. I didn't care who saw me. I sang and car danced all the way home, imaging that I was some vampy queen kissing a bad loverboy off. (I get dramatic if I've been out of the sun too long.)
Despite what I usually consider a decent cadre of friends, I couldn't find a single taker for some patio happy hour action. I cooled my heels at Skinner's where Matt was working.
"He sure does have a nice tie on," the guy next to me said. I looked at the brown strip of fabric sporting a dapper gentleman and a model T hanging around my husband's neck.
"That depends on your definition of 'nice'."
I held my cell phone in my hand trying to patiently wait for Laura's promised call. Finally, she rang. She was on her way to St. Paul and would be meeting Bobby-Wiz at the Wild Onion. She invited me along. I was thrilled to have somewhere to go, but the Wild Onion? Really? I hadn't been there since my friend Rachel turned 24 and we took her there because if you bring five friends, the birthday person drinks for free. (This was a stupid idea because Rachel doesn't drink. I ended up trying to get her to order fruity booze mixtures and then slip them to me.)
When we walked in the place I was struck by an unpleasant odor. It was humid and a little vomit-ey. The place hadn't changed a bit, but this time instead of there being lots of poppy rap, there was some kind of Cities 97 on Quaaludes music. The clientele was different, too. There were the early signs of wrinkles and some bald patches. "See? I told you these people were your age," Laura said. "It smells like puke in here. Want to sit at the bar?"
We ambled up and quickly ordered drinks. I was famished and we fawned over the menu.
"What!? Onion rings? Okay!" said Laura. I was hungrier than that and we collectively drooled over the appetizer list. We settled on the Southwestern Springrolls with avocado ranch sauce. I haven't done a proper happy hour with seriously fried near-food in ages.
Laura thought she spotted Bobby. He was with a group of people wearing running club T-shirts. Why would you run and then go drinking? What an odd thing to do. She and I were both leaning over far to our left trying to get a view of Would-Be Bobby. He had the right back of the head. He turned just a little bit towards us. "It looks like the right side burn length," I noted. Yep, it was him.
We sat back upright and sipped our drinks. Well, we weren't going to just go racing over there. He was with a bunch of runners and I didn't feel like crashing that kind of party.
Our fried crispy fun food arrived. Exactly, as promised they were wonton wrappers stuffed with black beans, corn and spicy chicken. In the center of the dish was the real star - lettuce dressed in a zippy chipotle dressed. We moved aside the fried tortilla wedges and fork sparred to get at the little creamy ribbons of greens. The wontons themselves were good, too. There was just a little bit of heat, and then the pale green ranch and silken avocado pairing was just wonderful. I shoved a couple into my mouth with ample dressing. Calories be damned I want to live!
We saw Bobby outside sneaking a cigarette with one of his running companions (I do not get this group at all.) Laura sent him a text message, something along the lines of, "I know what you're doing. I thought you had quit." We watched him take a lazy drag, pull up his cell phone and start at the screen. He looked all around him before spotting us inside, waving at him. Spying is fun.
He and his friend came inside and he introduced her as Tricia She had long, thick red hair and a smiling pretty face. Within moments of meeting we had covered what we do for a living, this little writing outlet of mine, where we went to college and why I should join the running team. I insisted that I do not run, even if it does result in a free t-shirt and pasta dinner at the Wild Onion.
Laura touched my arm with her drink, "You can do what I do. I don't run. I plod."
Soon we were joined by Mike and his friend Kelsey. Laura reminded me that I'd met Mike one night at the Loop. "Oh yeah," I said. "You ordered the pizza." He cocked his head and squinted. "I remember people by their food.... Uh.. yeah. Can I get another drink when you have a moment?"
Laura and Bobby mentioned how they expected some bumpin' music on the dance floor. We looked over, a lonely splay of purple lights listlessly circling the empty wooden floor.
I was shocked to learn that not only had Trisha heard of Skinner's, she'd been there before! I said, "I love it there! The hot bartender is my husband!"
"The one with the glasses? Wears the ties?"
"Yes! Let's go! Bobby? Skinners?"
"Sure, okay."
"You guys in?" Everyone agreed and we left the bar. I told Laura I was sick of the puke smell, but the truth is that, I'd grown accustomed to it. I really liked the fried food, though. I remember seeing people sitting outside sipping Bloody Marys in the summer. I might need to give it another try.
But our night was far from complete. We gathered down the hill at my favorite cheap watering hole, piled up on drinks and went out to the back patio. We traded jokes (none of us are capable of telling a decent joke. I even repeated one of my punchlines twice in case it got funnier. It didn't.)
The drinks kept flowing and the edges of the night soon blurred together. It was like a waltzing bunch of laughter, snippets and wafting cigarette smoke.
"Oh, sure a firecrotch!" Tricia declared.
"What do you mean... those aren't real glasses? You don't need to wear glasses?" We peered at Mike, seated behind his hip rectangular brown frames, sly smile on his face.
"I got a text from Crocheron!" Laura laughed and held up her pink Razr.
Bobby and I shouted at each other in our best Tim Curry English lilts, "And monkeys brains, so popular in Cantonese cuisine are not often to be found in Washington D.C."
It was near midnight when finally I had to give them a raspy, Uncle. I have to work tomorrow... I should go... Everyone's drinks were low and the night air had turned frigid.
We said our reluctant goodbyes and parted ways. I chugged a bunch of water back at the cottage and fell into a happy sleep. And despite it all, I virtually bounded out of bed this morning and have hardly been able to stop smiling since. It was one of those rare, weird nights that only seem to come around when the sun dips nearer and the trees have sprouted their green tippy tops. It's springtime alright. Let the festivities begin.


At 11:04 AM , Blogger bobbyw8 said...

Cities 97 on Quaaludes... great analogy! I should've told the person in charge of the music that his/her money was on the dresser... there, we worked in somewhere. ^^


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