Tag Archives: pub

That’s What You Do

7 Mar

You never know who you’re going to meet seated up at the bar…or who will want to meet you. It’s been interesting, the people with whom I have crossed paths and their response to me. And to be perfectly frank, men seem to be the most affected by my solo seating in a variety of ways. For the large part, I don’t have issues. Most are respectful, friendly and/or interested in what I am doing so they ask questions. Other times, though, it seems I’m impeding on their private world by sitting there all on my own, pen in hand, not requiring assistance or soliciting company. I’m not antisocial by any means, nor unapproachable. I’ll talk to anyone if not deep in writing or my internal GPS warning doesn’t fire up. I try my best to add to intelligent conversation when engaged; the pub is like United Nations of the common man. I try to blend, adding as much as the next diplomat.

Sunday night, I stopped at Blue Mountain Barrel House after my day in Charlottesville. Post Wine Expo, I was in need of a little beverage change and Blue Mountain crafts it’s own range of beers. The bar area, toward the back of the restaurant, is definitely not the main feature, though. The outside Tiki Bar and patio are. In the summer, I will definitely be there socializing. The wide landscaped patio has an amazing view of the Blue Ridge and when it’s not 40 degrees, I can imagine an evening there is one of the best parties in Nelson County.

I could easily tell the bar area was a “man zone” upon approach. Basketball on TV? Check. Pretty plain and angular in décor? Check. Mostly men seated there? Check. A lot of pubs are like this, but it doesn’t really phase me much. Blue Mountain’s atmosphere was lively, but not obnoxious. Comfortably seated between two gentlemen, I pull out my gear: smartphone, notebook, pen. Trying to be as inconspicuous as possible, the big girl camera often stays in the car if there’s the sense it may be crowded. Three young men in ball caps and jeans were next to me huddled in story and confidence, enjoying each other and a few pints. Ah, the lads, I thought. Good places always have a group of regular lads, they add character.

The bar mistress brought me a Dark Hollow first, a bourbon barrel stout. Sweet, smooth, and chocolaty at a whopping 10%, it arrived in a ladylike goblet. We chatted briefly about pizza, one of the main features of the menu. She recommended the local sausage, but it’s large and there’s only me. I do like leftover pizza for lunch, but not for seven days running, so eventually I ordered chicken wings. Blue Mountain’s menu has the pub spirit, offering burgers, hotdogs, and sandwiches as well as gourmet pizza. And when in Rome, eat as the gladiators.

After some time, I drifted into sporadic conversation with the lad next to me while scribbling notes, but when the bar mistress arrived to say they had run out of wings, “Lad” went into action. He was actually one of the chefs, enjoying his day off, but began a quest to find more wings for me. I was content to order something different, but a lad on a quest is not to be denied. Wings were found and sent to the main kitchen, but as all frozen items prepared quickly in anticipation of pleasing a customer, they were underdone. I understand the mechanics of cooking, and it wasn’t an issue, but what I appreciated most was the commitment to serve what I wanted. I reordered differently, though, and the staff began to make up for the experience …something not necessary, but greatly appreciated. The manager paid for my beer that night, and I enjoyed another of their brews, a Local Species, fruity and oaky, it was lighter but just as full- bodied and balanced as the previous stout.

When I finally dove into my dinner, (Caesar with Crab Cake) Lad queried me to make sure the food was to my liking. It was apparent that the kitchen should reflect his level of commitment and we chatted about last summer, the outside crowds and bar action. He reminisced about the derecho of 2012, how they worked in nearly 100 degree heat, but all the while having a grand time together. Our conversation was light, as he traded lines back and forth with his friends and the bar mistress, patting me on the shoulder at times in friendly banter. One of the cooks in the back, clad in an Angry Birds hat characterized the jovial spirit there. Lad commented upon his never taking it off and went to retrieve him later for a picture at my request. Anything I asked for that night was gladly provided and the service was genuine and wonderfully friendly. They even sent me home with a half of a local sausage pizza on the house, just to make sure I had tried it. The pizza was delicious. Whole wheat thin crispy crust with Double H farm spicy sausage, thinly slivered red and green peppers, and mozzarella bubbling on top. I’m not the world’s biggest fan of pizza, but for pizza and beer in Nelson…there’s only one place I’ll go now.

What I noticed most was the easy going nature and cameraderie of the people who worked there. They were attentive but not overly so, even in their attempt to make my experience the best. And Lad and his friends at the bar didn’t seem to mind me drifting in and out of conversation while eating and scribbling. These experiences make it easy to dine while traveling solo. However, this is in huge contrast to an experience I had during the writing of this post. Last night, seated at my home bar, iPad out and posting a few pics to Instagram on my phone, a gentleman on my left interrupted.

“You need to get a third now, huh…”

He was referring to my two mobile devices in use, but I could tell by his inflection that he was slightly annoyed for some reason.

“No, I use the iPad to write, and the phone for Internet…there’s no wifi here”, I say directly looking him in the eye, flat voice that said I minded the interruption.

“Yes, there is. My wife has wifi here. Hey! there’s wifi here right?” He shouts to my bartender.

His wife tells him quietly that a password is needed.

“Hey!” he shouts. “What’s the password?” And one of the waitresses standing at the bar begins to recite the password to me whether I want it or not.

“Yeah”, he says, “there’s the password”, as he motions for me to type it into my iPad.

The password doesn’t work because the signal is weak. He begins to talk loudly to the couple on my right.

He stops. “Hey! Did it work?”,  he interrupts as I am trying to go back to my writing.

“No.” I say, not looking up.

“Did you put it in right?” He repeats the password to me, insisting I stop writing to put in the code. As I begrudgingly do this, he begins to lean way into my left to engage the couple on my right again in a lively conversation over top of me as if I am not sitting there.

I sit straight up in my chair,in the exact middle of their conversational view.

“Excuse me.” I say, sincerely. “Would you all like to sit together? I mean, then you can talk. I’ll move down. I don’t mind.”

“OH”, he pipes up immediately “EXCUSE ME, I didn’t mean to BOTHER you with our TALKING…I mean it’s a bar… that’s what you DO…”


Maybe that’s what YOU do asshole, but I was here first writing, minding my own business until you commandeered my iPad to help me without thinking first that maybe I didn’t need and / or want the help.

I immediately stand up and move to another chair.

He calls after me. “Oh SORRY. I didn’t know you wanted to be QUIET”, he remarks sarcastically.

I go back, moving very close to him and say in my teacher voice,

“No, I’m not really here to be quiet. I’m here to write.”

I pick up my iPad, post half written on the screen.

“Its what I come here to DO.”

Times like these generally only happen with men my age or older for some reason and its happened more than once. I haven’t figured out why. Perhaps they have preconceived notions about why a woman would be by herself at a bar. Perhaps it’s some misdirected sense of chivalry. At one function, a kind older gentleman with whom I chatted admitted later in our conversation that he thought my picture taking was only an attempt to be comfortable in the room without a date. In essence, I was hiding behind my camera. Of course, after I stopped taking pictures and began to converse and dance, he changed his assumption.

Maybe its generational, but the most of the younger generation don’t see it that way. And while they offer to help or simply have a conversation, they generally don’t make gender role assumptions and then push on. In the United Nations of the bar, I suppose roles shift and change, but we meet there and it’s important. The pub is the community living room. The relationships there affect our experiences either positively or negatively. Hopefully, we’ll all get along enough to connect and enjoy ourselves….or simply just allow each other to be.

Instagram: wayfarinlass

Losing Yer Knickers…an Irish Story

24 Dec

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What would Christmas Eve be without a story, loves? And so,

This is the story of about how there’s nothing like almost losing yer knickers when walkin’ into an Irish pub

One Christmas Sunday (about a day ago), I almost lost my knickers in front of a right handsome lad in the best Irish pub in Washington D.C.

I planned to go to the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception to mass the night before Christmas Eve. ‘Twas on the bucket list and what does an Irish lass do after mass? Go to the pub for fish and a pint, that is a given. Transportation was becoming a bit expensive over the weekend. Average taxi rides less than a mile or two were nine to ten dollars and a trip all the way to CUA would be outrageous, I had imagined. So, I decided to ride the Metro. I could walk to the station as long as I had the time and conceivably, I could go anywhere. Only four blocks to the McPherson station, then green line to red line, two blocks to the cathedral. Easy.

So I set out in my navy cashmere sweater, dark red scarf with Celtic pin, flirty short blue kilt, navy tights and high heel black oxfords. Demure, but sporty church/ pub attire. After one block, I knew I should have gone back. Firstly, the kilt flirts a bit too much when I walk in those shoes and a kilt wearin’ red headed lass walkin’ down 14th street at a fair clip is an attention getting thing apparently. I nearly caused two fender benders and had a few interesting proposals from homeless men.

I began to walk faster. That’s when I realized I had brought THOSE navy tights, the ones I had meant to throw away because the panty portion was too loose and would fall ever so slowly with movement all the way down to my ankles. But I was obviously pressed for time and for my own safety. Certainly I couldn’t miss mass nor take the dreaded expensive taxi. “I’ll be fine”, I thought. I had put on a pair of silk knickers over top of the tights because I had forgot to bring a slip and they had plenty of elastic so they’d hold the tights up. That was Christmas wish that Santa just didn’t seem to get wind of.

By the time I had walked to the McPherson metro stop, a third of my bare hips could feel the scratchy wool of my kilt, but I knew no one could see it. So, I ducked into the restroom before I boarded the metro, yanked the trunk portion up high and went onward. The trip took much longer than anticipated with all the high heeled walking and when I finally reached CUA, I had more than two blocks to walk uphill to the Shrine in ten minutes. I wanted to take pictures of the beautiful exterior with all the gorgeous lights in the evening sunset, but by the time I jaunted up the marble steps to the door, I knew I’d have to find a bathroom to yank up my tights again. They were further down than before and almost half of my rear was bare to the kilt.

Yikes. It wasn’t intolerable, though and no one really noticed, but it was becoming an issue and I realized then, “Jeez, I have to walk BACK to the metro stop at CUA and then all the way to Fado from Chinatown metro. This isn’t looking good.”

After spending time at the Shrine, I set out again for the metro stop. It was later in the evening and dark; the entire CUA campus was deserted. Warning thoughts were shooting across every portion of my brain and I seriously thought, “Lass, how stupid can you be? You can’t run in them heels nor those damned tights and not a soul will hear you scream. Get to the metro and get there quick!”

When I sat down, breathless in my orange pleather metro seat, a full three quarters of my bottom was without coverage and then it hit me. Feck, I have three blocks to walk to Fado in Chinatown. Jesus, Joseph, and Mary, they won’t drop…will they? So I tried to inch them up casually. I squirmed and tried to nonchalantly pull them up by stretching my legs, but to no avail. They were coming down and I had no option but to pray they didn’t fall before I could get to the restroom inside Fado.

Exiting the Chinatown metro station, I began to notice a looseness that I had not sensed before. Oh holy Father, the knickers were falling too! That’s when I panicked. I kept walking though, small strides, then large strides to try to stretch them up somehow. Nothing worked.

I saw a McDonalds.

Customers only bathroom.


So I kept walking and then I began to pray. “Mother Mary, please don’t let me lose my black silk knickers on 7th street in Chinatown. Dear Mother of God, I can’t lose my knickers in front of the saints and world of men on a street corner.” I stopped to cross the street over to the 700 block of 7th and I saw the sign for Fado. I have never been more happy to see a place in my life and with effort and stealth, I snuck my hand under my coat to grab the front of my knickers and tights to keep them up. For my entire derriere was now bare to the kilt and the under current wind and I knew if I had to walk more than to the door of the pub, I’d be bare as the day I was born with navy tights around my knees.

I made it in the door and made to shuffle to the back toward the restroom. Thankfully, it was pretty empty the night before Christmas Eve and then. . .

There he was, a green eyed Irish waiter with black hair and an apron to match. “Good even’ lass”, he said, “Where’d you like to place yourself?”

At that precise moment, the knickers gave way and I knew they were going to fall right then to the floor in front of this gorgeous waiter and I would be mortified beyond belief. But, I knocked my knees together and leaned into the bar . Casually flipping my hair I squeaked, ”Well, I’m not sure yet, lad. May I use your restroom and then seat myself?”

“Aye”, he said “Tis over there. I’ll get you something for your return?”

“Oh yes” I said. “Make it a Guinness and pour it slow…I’ll be back.”

So when he turned, I grabbed my knickers from the front through the kilt and hobbled quickly back to the restroom. Thank goodness no one else was there to see me and then standing in the stall, they fell like feathers from a duck. I stretched and pulled, rearranged and then slipped the knickers back on and knew I’d be okay. However, I’d better take a taxi home.

So there you have it…

The wisdoms in this?

Listen to your knickers, loves. Underneath everything there is a sureness which is necessary to being. The best experiences can be marred when flexibility gives way. If it means being late, or it costs more money, it matters not. To build upon anything one needs to attend to foundations. It’s most important to life, to love, to anything.


The Emerald Cities

1 Aug

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This whole summer of adventure has brought me down a golden road that has been freeing, yet also treacherous. I’ve never traveled alone nor lived with the idea of doing exactly all the things I have longed to do. When I set out for Martha’s Vineyard I knew without a doubt that with a tiny amount of bravery, some good friends to be with, a camera, and a pen I could see what it is to really live. Dorothy’s journey has been with me since last October. I remember a dream, a terrifying dream of a tornado and a house, the whole scene from the film exploded into sepia storm in my early morning imagination. A house, a storm…WHAM. Where did these red sparkle shoes come from?

Traveling like this, though, has taught me valuable lessons but none more important than this: I can go anywhere I want, do anything I desire to do, and enjoy myself. I have always been able to do these things, I think, but its surprising to me.

Going to  Boston with Mom, I had to swing into being the one in charge. The derecho changed everything and navigating both home issues and Boston at the same time really showed me what I can handle. I drove that sportscar into Boston, navigated maps and streets and metro for us without GPS or a smartphone. I had my own room which allowed me to write more and I was able to process events much better. The really nice dinners began then, too. The House of Siam on Tremont where we ate on the street and then Roisin Dubh, the best Irish pub in Boston, I miss those moments. That night proved Mom can still chat up anyone anywhere at any time. My game absolutely dissolves in her presence. She is an enigma when it comes to chatting up men. The story of the Fleet Week Warrior still needs writing.

And then there was our walk into North End where we navigated endless streets of Italian restaurants and bakeries and grocery stores. It was a veritable sea for the senses: flowers baskets, and open windows and crystal glasses filled with wine, bread and olive oil and espresso on the corner. Dinner at Assiaggo, amazing.

But then, something dawned on me. I realized, I’m still sharing this. Mom was with me and I wondered what my life was going to feel like being totally alone at home again. It worried me a bit and I also realized, as my phone buzzed every hour or so in Boston, that I had I begun to give the experience away again to a friend during the last few days of our trip via text. Mom complained about it, too. When are you getting off your phone? she’d say. I’ve only had one for a year, I’d reply. I’m catching up.

When I went off to Richmond, something really unexpected happened. Through a chain of events, I found my phone silent and myself traveling pretty much alone. I had a huge lesson in promises and men being asses. A suitcase full of dresses had accompanied me to Richmond ready for promised dinner dates by someone who suddenly ghosted me. Well, what now? Yes, I had a educational workshops during the day. But at night, why couldn’t I go out to dinner anywhere I liked? Why couldn’t I tour the city the same way I did in Boston, just completely by myself? It seems like an obviously simple thought, but it never truly struck me that indeed, I could intentionally go to certain places alone. When I went, words would come, usually half lines of poetry or imagery, maybe a thought or two. But a cocktail napkin and a pen can be a perfect mediator between me and my experience. I didn’t have to text someone while I ate or watched people. I didn’t need a friend to dance or listen to a band. I could do it all with myself. And that’s what I did. To every place he intended to take me.

I suppose you could say that I’m still giving the experience away by blogging about it, but I don’t really see it like that. My writing is largely a conversation with myself. Somehow, it seems important to me to do that. Its a different kind of sharing, one in which I can still own the experience, but share it at the same time. It doesn’t mean I don’t really enjoy going out with people. Believe me, I love going out with others. But traveling this summer reminded me of the difference between “need” and “want”. And I think that’s a very important lesson when it comes to relationships of any sort. I still love to share my adventures with others, but I don’t need to have them with me to do it. Facebook has truly been a friend of mine.

So, Clar and I began to follow the yellow brick road this summer and for sure we needed a wizard to guide us. Somewhere in the summer’s journey, I realize something is at an end. But I now have a set of very sparkly shoes and they will take me further down a golden road to another glowing green city in the distance. . .and then hopefully back home.


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