Tag Archives: devotion

Pour Me

6 Oct

“For I have known them all already, known them all:
Have known the evenings, mornings, afternoons,
I have measured out my life with coffee spoons;
I know the voices with a dying fall
Beneath the music from a farther room.
    So how should I presume?”
—T.S. Eliot, the Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock

Bourbon’s too sweet for me. So why it’s wrapped around cold cubes in a glass next to me is definitely the vestige of some failed catch or another. There’s a bottle in my cabinet to keep the cowboy happy, and heck, it’s cheaper than the single malt scotch that is my primary flavor, so it will keep me company when the neighbors have a log on the fire and there is enough odor of smoke in the air to make up for the absence of it in my glass.

Cocktails composed of some combination of bourbon and bitters are my usual choice away from home, as well. Probably because bourbon is what’s typically available, and other than the occasional “float” of single malt scotch on a pretty concoction here or there, it seems like sacrilege to pour that beverage in the company of any spirit other than the ghost of its peaty past.

And so it was that I sat with a beautifully composed bourbon cocktail at a perfectly assembled “artisanal” joint in Dallas. For the second time. First it was with friends, and then it was on my own, sunlight smoothing the atmosphere flat and a time limit set by the event I was to attend that evening. I walked in, actually laughed out loud when I saw the textbook handsome bartender cut out of a catalog of Bunky favorites, and stepped over to the host stand.

“I just need to kill some time,” I actually confessed to the vest-wearing disinterested but friendly seat designator. “Can I just sit at the bar? And I can eat there, too, right?”

I chose a teetering stool between a couple and a solitary guy who looked like he couldn’t decide if he should put his sunglasses back on or leave them on the bar in front of him. New Yorker issue already open to the article about Joe Girardi I’d been trying to finish for weeks, I spread it open before me and awaited a menu while the bartender displayed the aloof characteristics that usually have me floored within minutes.

Yeah, yeah, I’m reading anyway. And I know which cocktail I’ll have. I had it before. And it was perfect.

Cocktail menu unfolded open in front of me, and a sideways look just like in the wild west. “Drinks under ten are all five dollars.”

And a quick pace away, back to the couple eagerly feeding on crumbs of wisdom he tossed from far away in his gray-skied malaise.

The solitary sunglasses man took up my cause and decided we would be in love forever. He was the chef owner of another place down the street. I was not interested. But kind to the stranger, just the same.

Days passed.

“Yeah, that’s a good deal and everything, but I think I have to have this one,” I said, naming the best drink on the menu, clearly, because the boy did the raised jaw single nod of approval. Again, I didn’t care. Didn’t need the guy.

The beverage was concocted in the corner well, far away and out of eyeshot. Then it was delivered, set just so on a cocktail napkin. I looked down at it and from high above heard, “Wait, wait,” and a straw was inserted with finger cap and I was silently commanded to follow it upward to a mouth that tasted my drink. It was acceptable. I was to drink it safely.

After I kept the conversation with solitary sunglasses tidy and never so much as giggled in his direction for twenty strenuous minutes, I finally had the chance to read a bit of my magazine when my food arrived. Ah, quietude, how I enjoy the chance to…

The bar was suddenly completely empty and the bartender chose to stand directly in front of me (no, I was not sitting in front of his well) and poured a short amount of a beverage. He was on his phone. Leaving a message about a beer cocktail he wanted to add to the fall menu.

Oh crumbs. How could I not take the bait.

Hang up. Look up, still chewing, “Alright, beer cocktail?”

That’s how it began. He locked in and just dazzled with multiple beer samples all poured in glasses that were appearing rapidly before me. I was surrounded in flavors, and the commentary was savory. Dammit. I am textbook myself, I suppose, in how my appearance demands a certain savvy in order to capture any attention.

I still didn’t need the guy. I didn’t. Until he dove into profound revelations about his personal history with not so much as an ounce of prompting from me. We were bonded for life at that point, but still, I wasn’t going to reveal any flicker of devotion. Bartenders, bartenders who frown upon the designation ‘mixologist’ but enjoy the elevation just the same, have broken me.

He took his dinner break and was around a corner in the kitchen again on the phone when I paid my check and left. Outside, stomping through the cacti-lined stone path, I heard a rapid rapping on glass. Look right, and there, through window is he, waving for my return to the indoors. Soon as I walked in, he was in front of me, shaking my hand, arranging for our next visit.

And I’ll go back. I’ll go back. Even though it prompted me to speak a line of poetry as I drove away. “For I have known them all already, known them all.”

These broken souls, the ones who pour themselves out in front of me, are my habit. They are not who I should imbibe. But they’re what’s available, and it seems like sacrilege to consume the good stuff that I really like.

Love Me, Love My MotoGP

30 Sep

It was all asphalt and tiny specks of color looping through turns the first time. I sat uncomfortably close to relative strangers on a tiny vintage sofa in an apartment too intimately shared by a fighting couple and their scrappy microscopic dog. We stared together, six of us (well, five, after sullen girlfriend opted for a nap), for more than an hour, counting twenty-some-odd laps around a circuit I don’t remember. I was the new girlfriend then, and I had no idea that after a series of sharp turns and high-speed crashes, the best thing I’d take from that relationship was a profound love for MotoGP. We’re talking so profound that I’d actually consider getting a tattoo of a neon yellow “46” in honor of champion rider Valentino Rossi—and I do NOT do tattoos. (As Unrequited says, “I don’t need tattoos. I have a personality.”)

Six years later, watching the race in Aragon this morning, I realized how much my view of the races has changed since that first encounter. Now I don’t see asphalt, I see corkscrews and chicanes. I don’t see specks of color, I see personalities, teams, and bikes representing varying degrees of technical achievement. What was only a field of confusion to a newbie years ago is now a comforting day spent in the paddock with friends.

The fact is, it’s been a long time since that relatively uncomfortable first date, and I am more in love than ever. My behavior shows all the signs of utter devotion. I mention MotoGP’s name in just about every conversation. I daydream about MotoGP during work, and find it hard to get back to editing articles about technology after a lunchtime dalliance with MotoGP. I cook dinner for MotoGP’s commentators while they regale me with stories of races past (from my laptop screen). I even sleep next to a framed portrait of the late Marco Simoncelli, who broke our hearts in a race catastrophe last year in Malaysia.

Maybe most significantly, though, I’ve realized that MotoGP is a permanent part of my life. Every year, I procure the somewhat pricey online video pass so I can stream the test runs, interviews, and races (girl doesn’t own a TV, and would never pay for gallons of cable when all I want is the Speed channel… oh and the Tennis channel… and maybe the YES Network). This is the foundation of a very important relationship in my life. I’m willing to commit the time and energy required to truly understand my MotoGP.

Lately, various conversations in my life have looped back to the home straight of whether and why and when I will fall in love again. My constant refrain is that my focus this year is on everything but that question. But this avoidance of the topic has led many to speculate that I suffer from a fear of commitment. In fact, these many have additionally posited that the reason I’ve chosen such terrible partners and found fault with marvelous ones is due to my own fear of commitment.

So, I’m willing to admit this is a possibility. And I’m trying to read a book on the topic, but I can’t seem to… commit. Because frankly, in the first chapter, where they describe the horrors of those who cannot commit, the authors stipulate that often a lack of tenacity spreads to every aspect of life. Commitmentphobes, they say, can’t even choose a place to live or settle into one job. Well, ladies and gentlemen, I would like to say that I have had the same editor job for 15 years (hey, running a magazine is a pretty nice occupation), I only lived in one apartment for the duration of my time in Brooklyn, and I still own my apartment in Salt Lake City (would you like to rent it?).

 

I’ve only been in Fort Worth for four months now, but I already know that my apartment and I are in a long-term relationship. I hung up my crazy vintage Danish modern cantilevered bookshelves, friends, and that action is best equated with a diamond in terms of “forever.”

If commitment is a willingness to devote large portions of your life to the pursuit of understanding another, then I point to MotoGP. Where some see only spiraling asphalt, I see beauty and depth. And what the races give back to me is excitement and passion. We are in this for the long-term. Every time MotoGP cuddles up next to me on the sofa, I think fondly about our past, and look giddily forward to our future. After all, Rossi’s back on Yamaha next year!!

 

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