I’m no drinker but I do love a quiet bar-and-grill in the daytime. I find such places so snug, so faintly churchlike with their regularly spaced TVs flickering in the shadows like stained glass windows.
My two girls did much of their college homework at places like this, though they weren’t drinkers either.
The younger one took four years of Latin in high school, then took it again as a senior in college, and she just loved working on it at ‘her’ bar-and-grill just off campus. I still picture her there, sitting with her tuna while teasing apart the strings in that compact knot cheese of a language.
I’ll bet she felt less lonely with the work as she looked over at the regulars there, those old guys roosting wide-bottomed on their bar stools, who got so they knew her and so would tease her: “Studying the Latin again, Annie? No money in Latin, Annie!” they would say but she would just smile back and keep on working.
I think it also relaxed and focused her to be there, just as it relaxed and focused me when, during the year of Anatomy and Physiology I took, I lunched in my own favorite bar-and-grill while memorizing the names and functions of the 12 cranial nerves, say. Even today with whatever work I have, when that little brick of salmon comes with its accompanying fist of broccoli and its wheel of pale sliced tomatoes I am one happy camper.
Just recently in this place, a waitress old enough to remember the snoozy 1950s stood maybe ten feet from me at a terminal, toting up somebody’s bill and talking to herself. Then suddenly she began grooving.
“Yeah we were dancin’, dancin’ in the stree-eet,” she sang, from that old Martha & The Vandellas hit. “We were swingin’ swayin’, records playin’” she went on, before abruptly interrupting herself.
“How OLD is Mick Jagger?,” she asked the air and suddenly we were a long way from Martha and her Vs.
“He’s like 70, am I right ?”
I looked around. Was she talking to me?
It seemed she was, and so I answered. “I think that’s about right, though I just read where somebody said he looked 70 when he was 40.”
“Hah! No he did not!” she scoffed and we both briefly looked off in the middle distance, perhaps both thinking of the years of the Stones’ really big hits and the fashions that went with them, the platform shoes and those gorgeous slacks with their high wide waistbands and yards of fabric skimming close and tight around the hips before cascading down and down to hit the knee and flare like the nostrils of a spirited horse.
But now she was talking again. “He’s still got it!” she said, shaking her head in admiration.
“It’s all that cardio,” I said. “Did you ever see him in concert? “
But she had moved on and was singing something else.
She was back to Motown and this time it was the Supremes.
“You can’t hurry love, no, you just have to wait,” she sang. “Love don’t come easy, it’s a game of give and take….”
Well, yes. There’s a lot of give and take in this life all right, and a great many things don’t come easy. For sure good grades on your tests don’t come easy. It’s always hard to sit to any of your tasks I think, but if you approach them with a cheerful heart and maybe a nice little sandwich close by your elbow, maybe you can soon enough catch the spirit and groove a little with it yourself.