Thursday, February 24, 2011

A Shrewd Awakening

       It was a great day to be anywhere but inside my house. In fact, it was just a great day in general. The temperature was perfect, I had some pent up energy to expend, and I had saved up some cash to take my wife out for a nice weekend outing. We decided to go to St. Petersburg to visit the new Salvador Dali Art Museum for Valentines Day. It was actually the 12th of February, but Hallmark can't tell me when I can celebrate the relationship I have with my wife (only my wife decides that).
       It was a quick and easy thirty minute drive across the bay to the museum. We have been to this exhibit a few times, but not since they moved into the new facility. It was better fitted for an exhibit of such magnitude now. The facade had an artistic feel to it that was missing in the old building. It was equipped with a curved glass overlook that had a view of the bay. It is known as the "glass enigma." There was a spiral staircase that continued to spiral even after the stairs ceased. It is known as "the spiral staircase." The pieces inside the museum were still the same as they had always been, but the layout lent itself to a better experience. We meandered through the different galleries showing Dali's early works, his transitional period pieces, and his Surrealistic masterworks. We spent about two and a half hours weaving our way through the museum, and we enjoyed every last minute of it (except for the 45 minutes we spent waiting in line for tickets).
       Our day was going so well we didn't want to go home just yet. So we didn't. We hadn't ever really spent much time in downtown St. Pete, so we went exploring. There was only one target for our exploration, and that was a relaxing setting to sit down and have a drink. The first one we sighted was a standard Irish pub. The next one looked like it was solely inhabited by a group of college aged "bros" whose company I tried my best not to keep. There was a deli, an Indian food restaurant, and a coffee shop too. All of which we sidestepped in our journey to find the perfect place to sample the ideal libation. Finally, we saw the place for which we were looking. It was a small bar which looked like it had recently opened. I noticed the giant bison bust hanging over the bar, my wife noticed the claw-footed bathtub in the entryway. We were both intrigued enough in the things we saw to willingly enter.
       There was a trio sitting at the near side of the bar. They were deep in conversation and carried on as if they owned the place. There was also a couple of homely women sitting further down, and a lonely metrosexual man sitting on the far end. We staked our claim at the bar halfway in between the trio of regulars and the homely women. There were a series of chalkboards along the wall that displayed an array of their offerings. One was devoted to all the brands and ages of their whiskeys, another displayed their draft beers and house wines, and right in front of us was a list of their specialty drinks. My wife ordered a $13 glass of Cabernet Savignon, but I was feeling a little more adventurous. The bartender introduced herself as "Megan."

I said to her "Megan, what is in this 'Moscow Mule' I see here on the board?"

She said "Oh, that is our most popular drink. It has vodka, ginger beer, and a twist of lime."

I replied swiftly, "One Moscow Mule please."

       Megan took to pouring a generous amount of vodka, then added a splash of ginger beer, and topped it off with a twist of lime. The minute I took my first sip I was in love. With the drink, not the bartender. I sipped it with purpose; trying to enjoy every drop with all the taste buds I had on my tongue's arsenal. It was a dangerous concoction, because it tasted so good and I saw how much liquor was poured into the medium sized brushed metal tankard. This drink was so tasty I was falling into a trance. I was quickly awoken from said trance by a comment I overheard from a woman belonging to the trio on my right. At first, I wasn't sure I heard her correctly. Neither was another member of the trio.

Her male friend said "Wait, what did you say?"

She repeated herself loudly and proudly "I said, if I went lesbian, I would have just taken my dad to prom."

       I almost wanted to ask her to repeat it again for me so I could confirm my ears were properly decoding what she was saying. I chose not to intrude, but I wish I had. The rest of their conversation was held at level that could only be heard within their three person circle. The woman who spoke in such enigmatic statements was an early thirties blond who had an air of sophistication about her. She was someone from whom one wouldn't expect such a comment to emanate. The inquisitive male member of the trio looked like an artsy type who could give you a short dissertation on the hints of blackberry or cocoa in his wine selection. He was wearing a black sweater, a pair of Sarah Palin glasses, and a wispy goatee (with a trustworthy connection of mustache to beard). The other woman was a simple woman who just seemed to blend into the background. She was completely clad in earth tones and rarely spoke. I was more interested in what the bison over the bar had to say than anything with which she could have conjured up. This was not the case for the prom lesbian. I wanted to know more about her and her prom night tendencies. I could have moved down a few stools to better listen in, but that would have been too obvious. I would have to mull this one over to myself.
       After much mulling, I had no better idea what sort of question would lead to such an exaltation. To continue mulling would be an act of futility. I turned to my wife to see if she had heard the same thing. She was staring at the wooden decor that festooned the overhang at the rear of the bar. It was a mosaic of different wine crates, and she was entranced by it so I left her to it. In my mind was a mosaic of possibilities to which I was equally fixated. We spent the remainder of our time in the bar in deep thought of our respective mosaics.
       On the drive home I fell into deep thought about that comment I overheard. My wife was driving because I had actually had three Moscow Mules while we were at that bar, because I didn't want to leave right away. Just in case there was another gem to overhear or a further explanation which would be audible from my perch three stools away. Unfortunately, neither of those came to fruition. I thought to myself "Was that woman actually a lesbian and she was speaking tongue in cheek?", "Why would her first choice be her father after finally coming out of the closet?", and "What exactly is the difference between ginger ale and ginger beer?"
       First, I didn't think that was tongue in cheek, because neither she nor the other 66.6666666% of her trio laughed after she said it. Then I thought maybe her dad was just a cool guy, or at least in the upper 50% of her parental pairing. Finally, after extensive research I learned that in comparison to ginger ale, ginger beer is more robust in flavor, with a spicy quality. I thought back to the woman who uttered the phrase. Like I said, she was a sophisticated looking woman in her early thirties with blond hair, simple clothing, and sensible shoes. Sensible shoes? Eureka! She was a lesbian, and it wasn't just the shoes that led me to that realization. It turns out, my wife and I had passed on all the straight bars as we walked down the street. the Irish pub would have been a safe bet, and the "Broville Lounge" would have had homoerotic undertones but actually inhabited by 100% heteros. The homely women to our left were chatting up Megan the bartender rather aggressively, and it made more sense now as to what their intentions were. The metrosexual man at the far end of the bar was quite possibly less metro than we initially expected. And the lifestyles of the Prom Lesbian's two cohorts were becoming more evidently alternative. Now that being said, I'm glad we chose the bar we did. If we hadn't, I wouldn't have had something to ponder for the remainder of the afternoon.
       I wondered why after making such a life altering decision to give up the pursuit of the phallus did she choose to return to the one that started her life's journey. Couldn't she have been bold and tried to turn the head of the head cheerleader, or go for the easy targets like the quiet girl in her art class? Did she run the gamut of these options and end up empty handed and with an emptier bed?
       Maybe dad was the safe choice for her, or maybe her dad was an easy transition into the world of lesbionics. I pictured an effeminate man with a front-butt and an affinity for Bette Midler musicals. They had so much in common as she grew up, and she never knew why. They would go shopping for plaid shorts together at Target, and would work in the garden planting herbs every weekend. Their existence together was perplexing to everyone around them, but to each other, it was perfect. She would grow up to play softball in high school, and participate in many theater performances. She never thought about boys because nobody could ever meet the standards her dad had set during her formative years. Her grades were immaculate, her extracurricular activities and volunteering had padded a college application to the brim, and she was the most popular girl in her house. Yet something was missing. She was happy and content with her life choices, but as she was approaching womanhood she felt like there was something brewing inside her. It was late onset puberty caused by the chemicals in her Target shorts, but it hit her like a ton of plaid bricks.
       1997 was her senior year of high school, and she had been accepted to Wellesley College in Boston on a full scholarship. Her softball team placed third in the state tournament, and she had received rave reviews as Katherina in her school's performance of Taming of the Shrew. Again, she felt like she had an itch to scratch. Her high school career was coming to an end, and she had one pubescent hoop left to jump through. Prom. She had been asked to the dance by an onslaught of gentleman callers, but she had scorned their advances (not unlike a real life Katherina). It wasn't because she wasn't interested in them, it was because she just had no interest in what they had to offer. It was when she was at home one night listening to the soundtrack of A Chorus Line with her dad that she realized what was missing. Or more applicably, it was what wasn't missing. The pelvic protrusion disgusted her. That is unless that protrusion was of an androgynous front-butt nature. As she pondered what this would mean for her future as a sexual being in the years to come, she would come to a realization that would calm her mind, appease her father, and confuse everyone else (including some dude in a St Petersburg bar 20 years later). "If I go lesbian, I will have to just take my dad to prom" she would think to herself.
       Feeling free and exhilarated, she would spring from her chair and run into the streets to exclaim her realization. Just as Archimedes did before her, she would do so in the nude while shrieking the word "Eureka." Unfortunately, she lived on a busier street than the Greek scholar did. She was struck by an oncoming Subaru Forester (which coincidentally was first manufactured in 1997, and was voted the #1 car on in 2010). Hence why the quote was "If I went lesbian, I would have just taken my dad to prom." It wasn't past tense, it was wishful thinking. She never made it to prom, only the emergency room. Apparently that unfortunate collision kept her from making a terrible life choice that would leave her ostracized from society for the remainder of her life. Luckily, she went to community college instead while she recuperated from her injuries, then went on to attend the University of South Florida to get her degree in Restaurant Management. Just think, what a horrible life she would have led with a degree from Wellesley College.

Update: I went back to that bar to talk to her directly. She is a lesbian and owns that bar with her live in partner Margaret. Apparently Margaret was able to tame the shrew. Good for her.


  1. This is my favorite so far! Much more what I was expecting AND you learned how to make paragraphs. Top notch!

  2. PS - I have no idea why my google account brings up an old Chamber blog. My apologies!

  3. great writing sir.
    I'm just surprised, that in St. Pete, in a bar, you didn't see rainbows and triangles everywhere. Good for the gays in St. Pete for liking Bison and Ginger Beer!