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This post is part of my 2022 Word Project. You can read what that’s about here.

Friday, August 4, 2023

We went to Cork & Cow tonight, sort of by accident. We were going to go to Gray’s for their 10 year anniversary party, but apparently about two hundred other people had the same idea so the place was jammed. That is not our scene.

So we headed over to Cork, ten minutes before they opened, thinking it would be nice and quiet since half the state was at Gray’s.

I had forgotten it was Friday night.

It’s no shock to anyone by this point that I’m not entirely a people person. But some of them tickle my fancy, and when you meet them they really make your night. Tonight turned out, quite accidentally, to be one of those nights.

So I’d like to reflect on some of the people I was amused and fortunate enough to meet.

First we ran into a couple that we met previously, who we have been out with socially before but lost touch with.

We thought they ghosted us after the last time we went out, which was last summer right around this time. We were supposed to visit them for dinner but they cancelled because he was traveling, then we lost touch.

It seemed genuine when they said they didn’t know what happened or why we never got together. But we both know what happened. Life. Because you cancel something when life gets in the way then life continues to happen so you never reschedule and then a year goes by.

I still like them. They seem to be genuine people, even though everything they say sounds so outrageous. I can’t even list all the places they’ve lived, California, Peru, name a city. They seem to know everyone and are constantly name dropping but the thing is, when you go someplace with them, they do actually know the people there.

She was telling me how she has drinks named after her in three cities across the world, which seems like the kind of tall tale you tell to people you meet in a bar, but it’s true. She showed me the pictures of the menus with the drinks named after her, and she has a unique enough name that it’s not just a nifty coincidence that someone used it. It’s not like Sue’s Swizzle or something. It would be like if I went into a bar and saw a drink named Carol Lynn’s Cocktail. I mean, what are the odds?

She is apparently as much of a tippler as I am.

I, however, have no drinks named after me.

The guy had melanoma on his nose and went through this entire face reconstructive surgery where they removed his nose then took part of his forehead to replace it. Which again, sounds outrageous. But trust me, I saw the pictures.

It looked – in his wife’s words, not mine, but how true – like he had a penis implanted down the center of his face. One minute we were lamenting this horrible affair and the next we were snorting ginger syrup out our noses.

They are also incredibly kind and generous people. They will buy you a drink. They will give you their seats when there aren’t enough and you’ve been standing for a long time. They actually let you talk, which is not typical, believe me. Most people, especially ones who seem to live as interesting lives as these people, just want to tell you all about it. They will regale you in great detail about the places they’ve been and the beautiful things they’ve seen and the amazing things they’ve eaten.

But these people, somehow, manage to tell you about their interesting lives and actually make it interesting. They don’t have a pretentious bone in their bodies.

In between, they actually sound interested in what you have to say, and will ask you questions and remember the answers.

You don’t feel compelled to turn to the stranger next to you and strike up a desperate bid of a conversation to escape.

That in itself is so rare as to be absolutely nuts.

They are nice, normal, regular people who just happen to have lived all over the world and know everyone in it.

They also manage to be humans who live ordinary lives, too, in between jetsetting to Peru or lounging on the California coast with a bottle of wine.

She was telling me how she lost her cat, how they had to put him to sleep, and how awful it was. I can relate. So one minute we’re talking about the microclimates on the west coast, and the next minute we’re crying and hugging each other over our cats.

Seriously. This is what happens when you meet someone who has had as many cocktails as you.

We hugged over the cats. We hugged over her husband’s surgery. We hugged over being happy to reconnect.

At one point her husband asked why on earth we were hugging and I said the only thing that made any sense.

We’re girls.

I mean, some people you can just hug. Not most. Not 99.9% of them. But sometimes you meet someone who is very squishable and you get each other so you throw your arms around each other in recognition of each other’s awesomeness.

I like those people.

All the while we were talking to these folks, I noticed a guy standing over my shoulder. It is a bar, so I figured he was waiting for a drink. But it’s not really a BAR BAR, it is a nice restaurant bar, so it’s not exactly the kind of bar you stand elbow to elbow with people and wave a twenty in the air if you need to catch the bartender’s attention.

But this guy stood there so long that it finally registered on my radar that he was, in fact, still there, and it seemed oddly odd.

So I turned around and said hello.

I figured he’d been breathing on the back of my head long enough that I felt like we were already friends.

He was sort of an aging hippie ex-rock star kind of guy, wearing some fedora type hat and dark sunglasses. Indoors. At night.

Fortunately they were not mirrored because there is nothing more annoying than trying to talk to someone who looks like two of you.

He had a Cool Cat kind of vibe going on, and turned out not to be a rock star, but a singer. Which in the Nashville area is a dime a dozen, but you don’t want me to meet plain old people, do you?

This one is not only a singer, but only sings Sinatra and old style music, and he only does it in Europe. Never in Nashville. It sounds like a wild story, right?

Why would I believe this?

But the guy has a website, and he has a business card that isn’t for his singing but for a house he owns in Greece that is more like a movie set mansion, where he rents rooms to gawking tourists like me.

And when he asked me what kind of music I liked I had no idea because I’m terrible at things like that, so I whipped out my Spotify playlist and he perused it and sang me a few bars of a bunch of songs and, I mean, three drinks in and standing in a bar, but it seemed like he could sing.

He was interesting. And also weird. He was drinking wine, glass after glass after glass. Not just any wine, but European wine. Because it’s the only good wine and it has no GMOs.

According to him he has never drunk anything BUT wine. An Italian who owns a mansion in Greece, lives in Tennessee but has never had whiskey, sings in Europe, and stands over your shoulder at a bar until you say hello.

Crazy man.

He has a major thing for organic food, too, which, ok, I can get behind that. He wants to eat stuff that isn’t full of pesticides and hormones and god knows what else.

We actually had a pretty good conversation about our mutually agreeable desire to eat real food.

So I asked if he shops at the farmers market and he said no.

I told him you can’t beat that for organic food and farm raised meat. But he insisted you don’t know if it’s really organic.

I mean, I guess he’s right? But if a local farm says their stuff is organic, if a local farm says they grass feed their cows and never inject them with hormones, then I take it to be true. Some of these farms have quite detailed information about how they raise food and livestock. It’s their life, not just a job at a factory. You can even tour some of them.

So I have no reason to disbelieve them.

Anyway, the best part of this whole thing is that he said he gets his meat from Costco because they have an organic program.


I mean, you cannot beat that for crazy. He is going to try to convince me that a local Tennessee farm is lying about grass feeding their cows and then in the same breath say that Costco has “real” organic meat.

Oy. I could go on all day about this but then it would turn into another topic entirely. So I just called him a crazy person and moved on. I figured if he could breathe on the back of my head for a half hour, I could call him crazy for eating Costco meat and calling it better than Tennessee raised.

But that opened up a whole new can of worms because the guy next to HIM pipes in and says he overheard us talking about meat and he runs a meat company. Naturally, his company sells the best meat.

Honestly, I have no idea how we even got to the point we did, but what can I say, five drinks in, and about ten minutes later I was telling new guy that he was full of shit and there’s no way the meat he sells is better or healthier than farm raised meat.

The good news is that you can explain away a lot by telling people you’re from New York.

I told him to forgive me but if I didn’t like him I’d just yes him to death then go home and talk about what a jerk he was. So be grateful that I’m willing to say it to your face.

That was sort of the conversation we had.

I also met his wife who is ultra uber organic/natural/clean-food crazy. She rattled off a list of things she doesn’t eat, which leaves about two things on the menu, maybe kale and raw tuna, I don’t know. No grains, sugar, dairy, legumes, or half a dozen other things.

However, she did tell us she was 63 and I swear both Ralph and my eyes bulged out like cartoons. I would not have pegged her a day over 40.

Apparently clean eating has worked out for her, but it also made me wonder, who wants 63 years on earth without lasagna or chocolate chip cookies? I should shut up and live with the extra 20 pounds and the wrinkles on my chin as long as I get a s’mores bomb for dessert.

They were both a little nuts but very nice, and fun to talk to.

We hugged them, too.

Finally I met a woman from Chicago who moved here just last week. We struck up a conversation about how life is getting crazy in cities these days and what’s this world coming to? We complained for a bit like you do when you meet someone who is also from a major metropolitan area and gets your whole bitchy attitude thing.

So that’s the cast of characters I met and spent time with tonight.

It reminded me of three things. One, I love meeting people, I mean, they are really a study. Some of them are superb and some of them are less than superb. I don’t always have this much fun but I always come home with this much fodder.

Second thing, it reminded me that I can only take so much of people.

After a night like this I often end up with a people hangover. However much fun we have, I feel exhausted, the life force sucked out of me and in need of a week of solitude.

These people were really entertaining and the conversations so diverse that it will take me a week just to unscramble my brains.

I like the crazy ones and the abrasive ones. I like the weird ones and the nice ones. I like the loud ones and the organic ones. It’s hard to say what I like about them, exactly, because nobody is anything like anybody else.

I think that I like people who are just people, not perfect, not impressive, who will tell you about their dead cat in the same breath as they tell you about their villa in Peru, and who will laugh when you tell them they’re full of shit and still hug you goodbye.

I like the ones who will come into a bar on a Friday night and sit around and shoot the breeze with anyone and everyone until you’re all on a first name basis and you know who’s from Chicago and who’s from Wisconsin and who doesn’t eat beans and who drinks too much wine.

That’s my favorite part of meeting people.

I still need a vacation from them, but at least I know there is never going to be a dearth of crazy. I’m guaranteed entertainment pretty much forever.

Finally, it reminded me that I sometimes forget that I’m people, too. And someone, somewhere, probably tonight, is sitting home thinking wow, that woman I met was so weird and abrasive and crazy.

It would be true.

Photo: the best I could do after five drinks, all the hugging, and a Friday night crowd of people. John is on the right, my favorite person who always knows what I want to drink without me ever telling him, and AP on the left who patiently lets me call him any two letters I can remember as the night progresses.