Thursday, March 18, 2010

Bad-tini, Part One: C is for...

Sometimes there's a reason you don't leave your comfort zone. That is the first thing I wrote in my journal on the evening of the incident I am about to describe. It's one story, but I've divided it into three blog posts so that it doesn't overwhelm my readers.

A couple of weeks ago, I went to a happy hour meetup in a trendy neighborhood downtown. I rarely go downtown; I rarely leave my side of the river.* But I like to try force myself out of my box sometimes. I like to meet new people, too. I RSVPed right away to this meetup because the bar the organizer had chosen was on my To Try in Portland list.

I was in a fantastic mood the entire day. While I rode the bus downtown, I wrote in my journal about my great day. I listed every good thing that had taken place—I'd planted flowers, driven across the Sellwood Bridge, gotten a CD in the mail, bought daffodils at Trader Joe's....

I expected my Monday's greatness to continue at the bar, but it was not to be. My good mood was fortunate, for had I gone to the Meetup in a bad or even mediocre mood, I would have had an awful night.

When I arrived at the bar, the evening's organizer and one other girl were seated at our table, which was long and rectangular. I smiled, sat near both girls, and introduced myself. They smiled back, and we began to chat. I looked at the drink menu; most martinis were half price all night. So far, so good.

More girls began pouring in; soon we had our eight and the table was full. A waitress appeared and poured us all glasses of water. We drank and realized there was something in our water—cucumber! It was delicious. I felt that I must be at a classy place. Some of my dining companions commented on the bar's decor.

This bar had been on my "list" since, months ago, a guy suggested it to me as a possible place for us to go on a date. I had looked up their menu and was intrigued by the long martini list, especially an entire section of flower-flavored martinis. I ordered a nasturtium martini. Nasturtium is a bright flower that tastes like watercress, which has the same spicy chemical in it as horseradish.

The eight of us began to get acquainted. I learned that a friend of the organizer was seated next to me. I also learned, throughout the course of the evening, that she only wanted to talk to the people with whom she was already friends. I am not sure at which point she stopped pretending to seem interested in the other girls at the table. I do know that not very far into the evening, her eyes began to narrow when some of us would talk. (From what I could tell, what these targets had in common was that they were either shy and meek or outgoing and artsy. Or just not previously a member of her group of friends.) I thought, I know that look. It's the look that the popular girl in high school gives to those she deems not good enough to talk to her.

As I stated above, if I'd begun the evening in a mood anything less than "fantastic," things would have ended differently. If "good mood" hadn't been my pre-existing condition, I would have been distraught, crushed by the treatment I received from that girl. I would have clammed up, slurped down my martini, chewed through my food, possibly ordered more, and stayed through the end of the night. Or I would have "gone Jersey" on her, conjured up rudeness to match hers, exceeding it only in tactlessness and volume. I would have called her a C-word or even CR.**

Part Two / Part Three / Home

* For those not familiar with Portland's geography, the Willamette River divides Portland into an East and West side. A street called Burnside divides the city North and South. I live East of the Willamette and South of Burnside, so I live in Southeast. Northeast and Southeast have similar personalities—laid-back, artsy, hippie-ish. Lots of houses and yards. Downtown is very different, and it is on the West side. That's where the tall buildings are. There's also a fifth section of the city called North Portland, which I don't even know how to describe. Just north of Burnside, on either side of the river, is Couch Street, which is not pronounced like a synonym for sofa. It is pronounced like a female body part. This has nothing to do with today's story. It's just some interesting information.

** If you are my mom or if you are under the age of 18, CR stands for "Cranky Rudeperson." I tried to find a link to the scene in 30 Rock where Kenneth calls Liz a "crankysue," but this was all I could find.

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