What can YOU do solo? Can you go out to eat all alone? Enjoy a glass of wine at a patio bar full of people? Watch a movie in the theater on a Saturday night? Attend a concert or sporting event?Normally, I prefer to go to bars with friends, but last Friday that wasn’t an option so I methodically applied my make-up, put on an Audrey Hepburn black dress, donned some heels, and set out on my own.
My plan was to walk to a small neighborhood joint I had never been to before, get a great seat at the bar, and flirt with abandon. Embedded in this plan was the idea that if I accepted the evening for what it was, made the absolute most of it, my good attitude would pay off and I would end up having a good time.
The “R” Bar on Colfax is terrific and tiny. There are three booths, fewer tables, and on this particular night no open seats at the bar. Deflated, I regrouped, sidled up to the bartender and asked, “Is anyone leaving soon where I can swoop down and take a seat? I’m new to the neighborhood and flying solo tonight.”
This man is a professional, so he made sure I was comfortable at a seat he saved for me, had a glass of wine in my hand, and began to introduce me to regulars. Somehow I began bonding with the twenty-something female singer of the band and also chatted briefly with a woman who was waiting for her date.
The evening felt like a complete success as I placed my debit card in the plether sleeve and prepared to head back to my little bungalow. Brimming with a sense of pride for not feeling sorry for myself sitting at home, the card came back declined. The only other plastic I had on me did the same thing. Tonight I was not going to panic—but I only had enough cash to cover my bill and leave a paltry tip. The oh-so-professional bartender accepted my apologies for the lame tip, and I set out on my return walk home with a lot less bounce in my step.
Relax. Breathe. It’s not that big of a deal. Then I remembered that I had a stash of cash back home. Oh-yeah!
That’s when I saw him.
Bench Guy was sitting in front of the local porn shop smoking a cigarette staring at me going from despondent to ecstatic. His blue eyes, fashionable attire, and spiky hair all worked together in a simply delightful package of man.
ME: Are you at the concert tonight or working up the nerve to go get your porn?
BENCH GUY: Ha! What’s a beautiful woman like you doing out alone on a Friday night?
ME: I always walk Colfax alone. That’s my job.
Rather than explain my streetwalking joke that he clearly didn’t get, I said goodbye and began scheming my return. I didn’t know if I would see him when I walked back to “R” Bar with my tip—how long does a cigarette last?—but I certainly hoped I would.
Returning with Bennett, wearing pig-tails, and flip-flops with jeans, Bench Guy beamed with pleasure as I joined him on the bench.
BENCH GUY: Wow! I was hoping I’d see you again. I went back in the concert and I was worried I'd missed you.
ME: (smiling and a little giddy) I have a slight problem with my tip. I only have hundreds. How weird is that to go from not being able to tip to returning with a hundred?
Bench Guy came up with an ingenious idea for breaking my bill into change, and I was off again on my tipping errand. He promised to be there upon my return to the bench.
The thing about this encounter is that the charm and delight we both felt in the moment continued well into the weekend as we chatted on the phone about photography, music, and musing over our fun on a park bench in a seedy part of town. Bench Guy and I had a connection that comes from taking risks, reaching out to strangers, having a good attitude, and timing.
And then like a clap of lightning in a storm, the magic spark faded into nothing.
Did I put too much into the evening or put pressure on Bench Guy? Maybe. I can dissect it and pinpoint a couple of things I wish I did differently. I can long for more evenings like the first one with Bench Guy and his charm. It’s probably not too much of a stretch to turn into a finger-pointing-bitch and place all sorts of blame on both of us for why we are not going to DO what it takes to see if we HAVE what it takes.
Oh, what a bother.
I started the evening solo, I'm ending this week once again solo, and rather than lament my alone-ness, I'm feeling rather exquisite.