The times, they are a changing…
You ain’t from around here, are you?
“It’s nice that some people don’t have to be on their phone all the time,” said the woman sitting at the bar sipping her austere French Sancerre.
She had already turned up her nose at the three chardonnays we offered.
“Around here, we don’t do buttery oaky,” she had said.
We don’t? Because buttery oaky is our top selling wine, by far. And the last time I checked we were here, as are most of our customers. I looked around again just to be sure. Yep. I am indeed here. But sometimes people like to speak in the royal “we” as if that alone lends more credence to their argument. Things like facts, or research, of course, are out of the question.
“So, are you from here?” she asked the other woman sitting at the bar.
“I live here, if that’s what you mean?” replied the other woman.
It was one of those slower weekday nights where the din and activity have become so muted that it almost forces one to interact with the other people around you.
I looked at the gentleman in the stocking cap sitting on the other side of her staring intently at his phone. Then again, maybe not.
But people go to bars for different reasons. Not everything is all that to everyone. If it were, there would be one bar with one item, and that would be that. But sometimes the bar itself is as inconsequential as the drinks served there. Sometimes it’s all about the people. The right people.
“So, like here, from this town?” pressed the first woman.
“No, I live one town over,” replied the second woman.
“So not from here, here,” replied the first woman.
“I grew up in this town, if that is what you are asking.”
“But you are not from here now?”
The second woman looked at me and then at the first woman.
“I have to make a phone call,” she said. And unusually for this day and age, she got up to make it outside. When she returned, she sat two barstools farther away. Not from me, but from the other woman.
In some areas, some people consider their longevity in that area as a personal badge of honor. As if that in and of itself earns them some extra rights and privileges. The funny thing about people like this, is that they become very uncomfortable around people with a longer pedigree. In fact in some cases they resent that as much as they resent the newcomers.
“I’ll have a chardonnay,” asked yet another woman bellying up to the bar.
“We have three,” I said.
“Do you have something buttery and oaky?”
I didn’t look at the first woman, but I did catch her rolling her eyes on the periphery of my gaze.
“We do,” I said.
“I will have two of those,” she replied.
The first woman shook her head disapprovingly. There are those who believe their take on reality is the only take there is. They say things definitively: “A martini is only made with gin” or “pilsners aren’t real beer.” The fact is, that the world is made up of many different people doing many different things. That is why even a so called singular “whiskey” bar will have a hundred different whiskeys.
“Do you live around here?” asked that first woman, finally, of the man in the stocking cap.
“Yeah,” he said.
“In this town?”
“Oh,” she said. “I have lived here twelve years,” she added proudly.
“Great,” he replied.
“This place has changed so much,” she said.
“Uh huh,” he grunted.
“All these new people are ruining it.”
“New people?” he asked.
“You know, the people who have moved here in the last ten years,” she continued.
“I think it was changing long before that,” he said.
She didn’t seem to appreciate that.
It’s a funny thing how exclusion becomes more compartmentalized the further you dig. People will sometimes come together over what they like, and sometimes they come together over what they don’t like.
“How long have you been here?” she asked the man finally.
“My family has lived here since the 1950’s,” he said.
She really didn’t like that. Ironically, he also, eventually, took a phone call outside. After which she looked at me.
“Boy, some of these old time locals can be rude,” she said.
With that her phone rang, and she took the call right there at the bar.
Leaving me with these thoughts:
– Ignorance is the only absolute
-“I don’t want to belong to any club that would have me as a member!” once quipped Groucho Marx.
-The royal “we” is often neither royal, nor plural.
– “Empathy requires knowing that you know nothing,” once wrote Leslie Jamison, author of the Gin Closet.
-Exclusion is the easy route, because it only takes one person to function.