At the Red Red Wine Bar in Annapolis, currently the coolest (?) place in town. The previous coolest place in my estimation was The Purple Tooth, also a wine bar, till they got shut down due to “a severe case of landlord,” whatever that means. Now someone else leases the same space and runs a wine bar there, but it’s not the same. It used to be run by two earth-friendly lesbians, possibly the only ones in town. Last time I went there, I was introduced by the bartender to the new owner, who seemed unimpressed with my friend and me. Acquaintance. We were just acquaintances at the time. On the bright side, we had a really nice time. The two of us had two drinks each, and the bartender only charged us for one. Plus, I think I left with a new friend, even if we were both a little on the shy side and haven’t met up again since. Twitter is a valid medium for friendship, right? I’ve been pondering lately what constitutes friendship in this internet age. It’s not the same as it once was — or is it? Human beings have always been of mixed credibility.
But here I am on a Friday night in a wine bar surrounded by pumping music and trying to ponder heavy shit.
Have another sip. Notice the bleach blonde bartender happens to be a yoga teacher I know. We used to practice at the same studio. She also teaches kick boxing, I think. She practically glides from one end of the bar to the other. She might be the coolest person in Annapolis. Definitely one of the cutest. As I write this, I can hear my husband’s eyebrows raising from hundreds of miles away. Don’t get your hopes up, honey.
Two twee girls come in dressed too young for their years with hair long, bangs straight, dresses shapeless and shoes flat. They look like lost middleschoolers till they turn around and one reveals a tattoo that covers the back of her left arm.
Someone trying to sound tough at the bar says in a voice an octave too high, “I don’t give a fuck!” It’s OK. I’ve been there. In Annapolis, it’s easy to be scandalous. Just tell someone you think the DOD is bullshit, or that the Naval Academy shouldn’t waste time on football games, or sailing doesn’t seem that interesting, or you don’t care about their boat or their money. Or better, remind them that most of their crabs come from Louisiana. Not that I’ve tried.
Pearl Jam was on the radio. then Brett Dennen, I think. Earlier was Modest Mouse followed by a couple bands featuring steel guitars — possibly my least favorite instrument.
Do bars intentionally hire female bartenders to keep from losing money on free drinks? I suspect they do. It’s not likely that I’ll get anything free here tonight. Last time we were here, I said hi to the bartender, but she didn’t remember me, which is too bad because I checked my bank account on the way tonight …
A tall young man who looks like someone I had a crush on in high school has come in the front door and is standing with two serious-faced old folks who must be his parents. He and his dad do the same pocketed strut — falsely casual — up and down the restaurant, waiting for a table. When they finally get a table, they walk past me and I notice he’s wearing a tie, and up close he’s not so dark and brooding. His posture leaves something to be desired.
What is with all these people with fucking ties? Annapolis, you are such a weird place. Men in the East Coast uniform of khaki pants and blue blazer. Are you a prep school kid? A ship’s captain? Is this an 80s movie?
There are two TVs at the bar — one showing NASCAR an the other an NFL game. I’m drinking Portuguese wine — Vega Tinto — and listening to indie rock. Nothing here makes sense. I’m having trouble embracing this place. It’s not like San Francisco where everything felt strangely right.
A dark haired bar tender with a very Kat Von D look (tattoos and eyeliner) is working her magic on one of the Oxford-wearing blazer crowd. She looks right at him and keeps her gaze steady as he orders his drink. She may not be dancing through the night, but she is doing her thing. Someone who looks like a manager is making rounds. I should’ve worn a better bra. The waitresses are getting theatrical. A man making a Jack Nicholson face winces at the NASCAR screen. Mr. Pink Oxford adjust his stance as though those khakis are pinching his balls, poor thing. Mumford and Sons are revving up after “Pumped Up Kicks,” — who made that song again? And why’s it so popular? I wonder if they’ll be a one-hit wonder.
I can hear the bottles piling up. My ribs are starting to vibrate with the base. My face is getting pink. I think I may have just written on my neck. The manager is either hitting on the hostess or complaining about her placement of customers — namely myself. He looks less than pleased, either way, and he seems to be eying my half full wine glass and notebook as he passes me again. This is not my concern. I will sit here and drink my wine and observe your romantic attempts for as long as it pleases me.
Maybe he’s just bored.
A table full of kids is on minute 10 of scanning their menus for the cheapest dish — What are you getting? I don’t know, what are you getting? The dark-eyed bartender is jumping up and down, now diving over the bar to hug a patron who just entered. Manager is pacing, clicking his pen and wrinkling his forehead. The place is packed. What’s he so worried about? I look around but don’t see anything wrong. Maybe the other room is empty. For a moment it seems nothing at all is happening. Maybe it’s just this song, but no one interesting is coming in. One couple who looks disturbingly like extras from Say Anything leaves with practiced pageantry. The bartenders are not jumping, dancing, flirting or gliding. For a moment, it’s just another night. The old guys gather at the corner of the bar talking their mix of office politics and golf or boating or what have you. The waitress asks if I’d like another glass of wine. I don’t know. The guy on the radio is crooning in an almost Springsteen voice, and this is almost a place where real people live and where I can settle down a minute and forget to be my beloved outsider self. Everything is different when you’re on the clock. Jack Nicholson Face is drunk and concentrating hard to get to the restroom. The dark bar tender has turned one end of the bar into her own personal party. The waitress will come back and ask what I want. The answer is yes.