December 1, 2012
During last night’s date night – our first in maybe four or five months – my wife got a little irritated with me when I joined in an overheard conversation about Asheville. We were sitting at the bar at Lexington Beerworks at the very hip hour of 7 pm (all five of us in the bar). Given that it was date night, we had made a concentrated effort to leave the house by 6 pm, and finish eating before 7. Hiring a baby sitter makes me feel like I’m in a taxi in traffic. The meter is running. Let’s get going. And quick.
At Lexington Beerworks, I was drinking an Apocalypse Fallout Dust, and she was drinking a Dogfish 90 Minute. The bartender and one of the other few customers having a drink at 7 pm on a Friday night were discussing Asheville. The older gentleman having a beer was recounting his recent trip. Despite his love of Thirsty Monk in downtown Asheville , he didn’t know what Brusin Ales was when I mentioned we shop there often. In any other circumstance, not knowing Brusin Ales would cast suspicion on one’s overall knowledge of the North Carolina hipster hub. “Really?” I wanted to say. “And you say you’ve been to Asheville? Really?” I let the incident pass without remark.
“I want to go to that taco place with the hip duck name,” the bartender said. “White Duck Taco,” I interrupted. “Uh, yes,” the bartender replied, clearly irritated as well that I had usurped his supposed mastery of Asheville. “It’s a bit like Salsa’s,” I added. “Hipster Mexican. Not really Mexican, but good.” The bartender didn’t know what Salsa’s was. I let that incident pass without remark as well. The bartender was not appreciating my unsolicited Asheville knowledge. Even when I strengthened my ethos by claiming to have been going to Asheville since I was 10 or 12, the irritation clearly showed. I was stealing the bartender’s small 7 pm show. Later, the bartender got even more irritated with me when, on our way out at the very late hour of almost 8 pm, I asked when Beerworks would put on another Against the Grain keg. Beerworks often gets decent kegs of the Louisville brewery, and when they do, I’m saved an hour trip to Louisville to try the beers out. “We have Shark Pants,” he said. “It should go on soon.”
“That’s Three Floyds,” I replied.
“No, I think it’s Against the Grain.”
The woman also tending bar looked it up on her iPhone. “It’s Three Floyds,” she said. “Thank you Google!”
He was really unhappy with me now. My wife, however, was almost as irritated since I was using one of our rare occasions to go out at night without our kids (even if it was only 7 pm) – and spend 40 bucks on a baby sitter while doing so – to talk food and beer with total strangers at a local bar. And I was using that time to rectify an obvious beer mistake: Shark Pants is Three Floyds, not Against the Grain.
I can’t help bar interruptions. The whole point of sitting at a bar at 7 pm or anytime in the day when only a few people are out and conversations are audible is to overhear discussion about food and beer and then offer unsolicited comments. I like to interrupt. This is my main reason for sitting at a bar in the middle of the afternoon. I want to get something fairly rare which is on tap. I don’t want to sit in a crowd of 100 hipsters at 10 pm. That, and I go to bed at 10pm. And when I am having a fairly rare beer at 7 pm or 1 pm, I like to interject in conversations about beers I know, places I’ve eaten, and what is or is not distributed in Kentucky. Date night, it seems, is not the most appropriate time for interjections.
When I interject (about Asheville or beer), I’m not, though, showing off. First, I can’t show off in front of my wife, who clearly thinks I’m a nerd already. Second, I’m really using the opportunity to interrupt to figure out who else is a beer or food nerd in this town. My theory is that they exist, and that they want me to find them. If only I can identify myself as likeminded, they will come over to my house, share my beer, watch football with me, and encourage me to roast a whole goat in my backyard. As I often say, my conversation skills are limited to four things: beer, food, my kids, and sports (and by sports, I really mean the only two sports I recognize as actual sports: basketball and football). These interruptions, in other words, are pathetic attempts to make friends. You like beer? Me, too. You’ve been to Asheville? Me, too. You want to roast a goat? Me, too! Let’s be friends!
Clearly, date night is not the night to make new friends.
And there is more to being friends than beer. The interruption gesture, genuine as it is intended to be, must come off as inappropriate at times. I’m feeling totally inappropriate lately regarding beer. Just when I thought I had some things under control, a whole bunch of new releases came out, I shopped at Brusin Ales, and I signed up for another Secret Santa Ratebeer trade. I’m back to being inappropriate again. This badly taken photograph exemplifies my point.
Of course, much of what humans do is inappropriate: allowing online comments for news stories, letting our kids watch Caillou, shopping at Kroger, publishing Beetle Bailey. We can’t entirely get away from the inappropriate even when we want to. I wanted my wife to feel all the attention for date night. I had, after all, just treated her to burgers and fries at Sidebar, a class establishment that doesn’t bring a glass when you order a can of beer. I wanted a new beer friend. I didn’t want to drop dollars on new releases. I wanted not to pay $40 for a baby sitter. We have to live with the inappropriate from time to time, it seems.