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2000-11-23 - 02:21:21

Drunk Night: Early Thanksgiving

It's 2:30 (well, 2:22) in the morning and I can hardly see straight -- let alone type, which is a testament to my 3rd grade typing class that I've gotten through this sentence only having to backspace three times (honestly).

I got off work at the newspaper at 11:30 tonight, and called my friend Dave, who had just spent three days on a business trip to Amsterdam to work out a problem with a client. He was jet-lagged, and I was finished with work, so we headed to a local tavern that we frequent at least every other week for lunch or dinner. We've gotten to know the bartenders well there, to the point that we're often paying tabs two drinks short of what we actually had, or something like that.

But it was the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, one of the busiest bar/drinking/socializing nights of the entire year. The place we went to, one we often visit, was packed. Packed to the point we've only seen once or twice before. But we worked our way in, were served promptly by the bartenders who know us (all three of them), and spent the night catching up -- on his trip to Holland, my weekend here in New Jersey, and all the lovely women who happened to be in the place tonight.

To clarify: this tavern isn't known as a young, 20-something hangout; it's the furthest thing from a singles bar. The normal crowd probably averages in their mid-30s. When Dave and I are there, along with one bartender -- Jen -- we bring the average down a year or two. But tonight, as on other select nights, the mean age dropped below 30. Good news for two single guys.

Anywho, we spent the night talking, then finally finding two seats at the bar after the crowd slowly thinned. It put us next to a waitress -- Marianna or some such spelling of a beautiful name -- at the establishment whom we've met before and talked with. We sit next to her, spending a few minutes talking until she gets up to go to the bathroom. A friend of hers sits down, and Dave and I turn to other matters, but the friend -- Caroline, we learn -- overhears part of our conversation and starts talking with us. She's a sweet, wonderful lady and we talk until two of her friends show up, and she gets up to talk with them.

Dave and I think little of it, and continue talking. But Caroline has left her purse on the bar next to me, and for the next half hour, I am blessed with the occassional whiff of her perfume in between the regular second-hand smoke inhalation. More than once, I ask Dave to repeat what he said because I am caught up in the scent of this woman.

And I tell Dave to let me know if Caroline (he overheard her name and tells me, because our conversation hadn't gotten that far) turns to leave the bar, because I need to ask her what her perfume is called. She's talking with this guy who's come over, and I decide -- to some extent -- to wait before asking her.

But Dave and I finish our drinks, and after long days for each of us, are weary and ready to head home. Caroline sits down at the bar, but the guy's next to her, and I've lost interest -- mainly because I've lost the scent (literally; not some base neanderthalic masculine way). So I don't ask elegant Caroline in the black jacket and black leather pants what perfume she's wearing. "Excuse me," I planned to say, "I've never done this before -- and I know that sounds like a line, and you can look at it any way you want, but I just need to know: What is that perfume you're wearing, because I'm stopping in midsentence every time I smell a whiff of it."

It probably would get me no further than the name of the perfume, which is all I really wanted, but for a moment, my imagination went its own way, thinking of her telling me the brand name, then slipping me her phone number, and the two of us enjoying a few nights out in the near future.

But it didn't happen, and Dave and I left the bar a few minutes before closing.

And on the way out, as we walked to the door, we said goodnight to Sean, Jen and Bruce, the bartenders, shaking hands and wishing one another a happy Thanksgiving. And that was nice, that was what the holidays are all about. Wishing one another well, no matter the extent of the relationship. Nevermind that Jen is a cutie and Sean and Bruce are the kind of guys you'd like to hang out with. It was not bartender and patron, or any other kind of social stratification involved. It was friends wishing one another well for the holiday. And Sean and Jen both mentioned several times that they'd be on duty, working the night of the holiday, as would I, because people expect their newspapers on Friday, and someone has to be there Thursday night to put the section together. And I told them, and I hoped, that I'd be off work early enough to stop in, to meet up with them, to join them in working on a holiday.

Friends can come in so many different forms, from so many different places, that we sometimes do not recognize them as friends. And there are some people I consider friends who may not see me the same way, but that's OK.

I still think that's what the holidays are all about: Wishing casual acquaintances a Happy Thanksgiving, and really meaning it; spending the night before, or the night of, together, not necessarily together because of friendship, but because of work or some other relationship, and realizing that the bond, the connection was not made, or does not last because it is a work-related or some other acquaintance. We are friends now.

And if this makes no sense, it's because I'm drunk. I'll have to read this over again tomorrow to see if I understand myself.

Happy Thanksgiving, all.

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