Friday, February 4, 2022
Words cascaded through my head today like little bubbling syllables on the stream of my thoughts. It’s Friday, so Friday repeated itself in increasing tones of glee. Done floated by, as in the week is and so am I. Enough, because it’s what I’ve had.
Relax, fun, ready.
We have plans this evening. We’re going out to one of my favorite restaurants which means delicious cocktails, lots of bourbon, excellent food and delightful company.
Favorite used to be a good word but it’s too Facebook-y now.
I have two favorite restaurants, and a smattering of “restaurants that would probably be my favorite if I had the opportunity to go there more often.”
Cuba in the Village in New York is one. It’s a tiny restaurant where you sit in very cozy proximity to everyone, and if there is a band and you end up sitting next to it, you will never hear a word spoken by anyone at your table and you will all have to get up and move whenever the band needs to get on or off the stage. Where “stage” is “a three foot square platform wedged into the corner of the room.”
The walls are covered in colorful, original artwork, mojitos flow by the pitcher, and Oscar and Jose always greet me with a smile and a hug and never ask if we want a refill. The pitchers just keep coming.
Ralph and I order every appetizer on the menu, plus more to take home. They always comp us dessert.
Sometimes there is a guy in the corner rolling cigars. You can take one if you want, and donate to his efforts if you choose. If the weather is nice, sometimes we do, then hang out on the sidewalk or in Washington Square Park smoking them.
Going there feels like going home.
It’s been almost three years since we’ve been there (thanks, Covid, and various assorted life things) and I haven’t had a good mojito since.
Sorry, Cork & Cow.
You may also be my favorite but I don’t come for the mojitos.
I come for the cocktails, for the company, for John who tells me what I want to drink before I have the slightest idea what I want to drink. For Sarah and Eric who talk books and bitters and put cocktails in front of me that I didn’t know I’d like.
The Cork & Cow is where we’re going tonight.
Long before we lived here, we would make a point of hitting the Cork & Cow whenever we drove through. We became friendly with the bartenders, and even though there might be months or years between visits, they always seemed to remember us. It’s that special quality that good bartenders have where they can listen to your boring stories, laugh at your stupid jokes, and somehow remember what you like to drink even when you can’t remember yourself.
Ralph and I are bar people. Well, “bar in restaurant” people. If there is an option, we always sit at the bar. Lobster tail tastes just as good at the bar as it does served atop a tablecloth. And you never know who you might strike up a conversation with. Sometimes we buy people drinks. Sometimes they buy us drinks.
Once, I invited a perfect stranger to come over for Thanksgiving dinner and apparently got far enough into planning it that I had to text the next day to apologize that we wouldn’t, in fact, be having Thanksgiving dinner together. There may have been a lot of bourbon consumed that night.
I’ve laughed at bars, cried at bars, sang at bars, argued politics at bars. I’ve talked books and movies, shared recipes, conversed about careers, pondered the meaning of that guy at the other end of the bar who just poured an entire glass of water into his one ounce of bourbon.
I love a friendly bar, and the Cork’s is perhaps the friendliest I know.
The people who work there are delightful humans, and would be delightful even if they couldn’t mix a Manhattan to save their lives.
But of course they can, and anything else you could ask for or not ask for. In fact, I almost never ask for anything. They know my flavor profile, so all I have to do is tell them whether I want a cocktail or glass or wine or a pour of bourbon and something magical appears.
They have the best burger I’ve ever eaten in my life, an apple cobbler that’s like fruit-flavored crack, and a Caesar salad that is sometimes the only thing I go there specifically to eat.
This is all very pedestrian, though. Good food, good drinks, blah blah blah.
The reason I love it is the same reason I love Cuba. It’s like going home to a night out.
A familiar thing you love. A place where you can enjoy the best parts of life with the best people in it and feel warm and welcome and content.
So what’s the word?
Cork & Cow is two words plus an ampersand.
Still, I’m really really looking forward to going. Six words.
On Cork & Cow days we always plan to wrap up work early. Whatever madness or mayhem gets thrown at us, it somehow evaporates on Cork & Cow days. Defying all odds, the to-do lists get emptied, the shirts get ironed, the calls get made, and it all happens in less time than usual.
I’m starting to wonder if the only thing wrong with all my productivity strategies is that they don’t include the Cork & Cow often enough.
The bar opens at 4, and if you don’t get there by 3:55 you will never get a seat. So we wrap up early and book it downtown. As we approach the restaurant I snap off my seatbelt, grab my purse, and Ralph decelerates enough for me to roll out onto the street where I race across and stake my flag in front of the door. Then he goes to find a place to park the car while I corral however many seats we need for the occasion and snarl at anyone who gets too close.
I may exaggerate a little for the entertainment value, but not by much. I don’t snarl.
I need a word for “that warm feeling you get when you do something you enjoy with people you love”.
I mean, there you go. That’s my word.
Did I NOT already establish that I get to make the rules?
It’s not my fault that the English language doesn’t have the right word for that.
Now it does. Family and fun and favorite and love and comfort and enjoy and people.
Inflection on the joy.
That’s exactly how I feel today, all sorts of favilojoyple as I anticipate the evening ahead.
It’s a hard feeling to pinpoint but if you’ve ever skipped through a day knowing that something good was at the end, then got dressed in your favorite clothes, to sit companionably with your favorite people, eating and drinking your favorite things, then you’ve felt favilojoyple, too.
Maybe one day I’ll tell you how the evening turned out. But that’s almost beside the point. The word is in the experience, and it doesn’t require anything more than being there.
All I can do is find my favorite earrings, and hope that you will experience the full effects of being favilojoyple, too.
Photo: one pour from this evening’s festivities.