What happened in 90’s doesn’t necessarily stay in the 90’s

The front door banged hard on its little stopper, signaling her arrival. I’m not going to suggest she was like a golden retriever shaking off the rain once inside, but there was a lot of commotion, long reddish-blonde hair flapping around and a puddle when she left the foyer.

Some people know how to make an entrance, and some people just know no other way. “All the world’s a stage,” once wrote a man much wiser than me, and for some people that stage is predominantly a bar. Proscenium arch? I stare through it every day.

“A dry martini?” I asked as she squeezed out some water from the ends of her hair.

“Beg your pardon?” she asked.

“Out of those wet clothes and into a dry martini?” I added.

“I don’t get it,” she said.

Not everybody does.

“But, I will have a martini,” she said, nodding at the only other person sitting at the bar, a woman about her same age, as she settled noisily in. There was a big purse, a big jacket and a big cellphone, all of which went onto the bar, right next to another big purse, big jacket and big cellphone already there.

I stood there for a minute awaiting further instructions. When none were forthcoming, I had to start asking questions. And take my word for it, no performance is enhanced by the asking of questions.

“What kind of martini?” I asked.

It turned out that there were instructions, lots of them, and lots of questions for me, too, all leading up to a lemon drop “martini” — shaker ice on the side, of course.

“Of course.”

But performances are about attention. And this one gathered some.

The other woman looked at the new arrival.

“That sounds interesting,” she said.

“I started drinking these back in the ’90s,” Red said.

“Oh yeah? Where?”

“I used to hang out at (insert busy singles bar’s name from the ’90s).”

“Hey, so did I.”

And just like that, they bonded. Opposites might attract initially, but it’s the sameness that keeps us together. We don’t bond over what we disagree about, but rather what we agree on. And they agreed on a lot.

Both women were married. Both had been divorced. Both had children, now grown. And both didn’t know where their husbands were. And they didn’t seem to care. They could easily have been two sides of the same coin.

There was talk of sitters and gardeners, and careers and high schools. It was truly shocking how much overlap there was. When it came to colleges, they might as well have been twins or sorority sisters.

“Kappa Alpha Theta?”

“No, Alpha Delta Pi.”

“When did you hang out at (singles bar from the ’90s)?” asked the already seated woman after ordering another drink, a lemon drop “martini.”

Great minds think alike is an idiom that gets bandied about. After 35 years of human observation, I can safely say so do mediocre ones.

“Usually on Thursday nights,” Red said.

“Me too!”

This was getting weird.

“Do you remember that bouncer? Ray? Or something like that?”




There was silence for a moment, as both of them retreated into their memories. That Reynaldo must have been something else.

They talked about comedy night, karaoke night and ladies’ night, all the ’90s favorites. In fact, they talked about ladies’ night for quite a while. So much so that both of their cellphones had started to buzz and blink urgently. Not caring where their husbands were obviously didn’t work in the reverse.

They both ordered another lemon drop “martini,” turning their phones over. There is a saying about martinis, that one is not enough and three is too many. And it’s definitely true, even for lemon drop “martinis,” perhaps especially for lemon drop “martinis.”

“I have a story about one ladies’ night in particular,” said Red after her second. “I remember getting a little wild afterwards.”

“Me too,” said the new friend, licking the sugar off of her sugar-rimmed glass. “But you go first.”

“I had my only girl/girl experience after one, once,” Red said.

“Wait a minute,” said the new friend. “So did I.”

It took a few more sentences until both of them realized the truth. The silence that followed that realization was deafening.

Leaving me with these thoughts:

• Culturally, we live in a much smaller fishbowl than we sometimes realize.

• The “out of those wet clothes and into a dry martini” quote comes from the 1942 movie “The Major and the Minor” and is uttered by Robert Benchley (a humorist and Algonquin Round Table member).

• Dorothy Parker (another Algonquin) also has a martini limerick appropriate to this story. Google “I like to have a martini,” if you dare.

• If it takes an hour conversation for you to realize that you have already slept with someone, “a little wild” might be an understatement.

• Birds of a feather do indeed flock together. Sometimes they just don’t remember.