Saturday, January 28, 2012

What is in your woods?

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Variation to a theme I’ve already written, but it is just that, a realization of the inevitable.

As a species we seem to gather with needs of association with like kind. Our individual needs interaction with others.

We seem to need to share like experiences to explore new ventures. There is a desire to let loose what we hold inside.

So our being seeks one who will feel comfortable with our own evaluation of the life experiences presented to us with a feeling that it is meant to be a comparative emotion.

With the discovery of a like mate to cohabitate with, the compromises come whether wanted or desired but necessary to continue the relationship.

And yet the individual wonders?

For each has desires and dreams that may not be included in this new coupling.

Is the grass greener on the other side? Was it better before we met?

Yet some relationships have complications. Finances are shared, furniture has been purchased with acceptance, and then there are the begat.

The struggle to find a common ground to make life tolerable sometimes leads to the realization that perhaps being in the same space is not the best way to be.

Work offers many opportunities for getting into a separate space at least for a few hours. Travel and long hours softens the long distance and with continuous repetition becomes common to the relationship.

Sometimes the distance is not so far away but yet necessary. The arrangement can be as easy as a dinner together then parting for the evening in different directions or a shopping incursion only to separate in a nap and a football game.

The excuse may be the time needed to have self-relevance or to contemplate the soul or to exercise the creative venture interrupted.

This is not a bad thing; it is just that we, as individuals, must have a certain amount of space to be able to understand our own consistence.
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I heard this topic from some author, I think it was Maurice Sendak but it makes no never mind. The thought was about the symbolization of “the woods” in folklore.

Since childhood, we’ve been told the woods are filled with mystery and possible danger. Maybe the woods are filled with big bad wolves or gingerbread houses or a possible teddy bear picnic.

But what are these woods and why are we told to avoid the fear inside?

Woods appear to be the unknown. A place of wonder with mysterious sounds and movement, dark shadows and unseen creatures with glowing eyes.

And just like telling a child not to touch the stove, only when the heat if felt will the child understand the concept.

Thus true when the woods are view from afar, they only appear as a group of trees. Textures of barks and variety of greenery living on a carpet of leftovers, but at night the rustle of leaves, the sway of the branches invent all sorts of wonders in the mind. This is the same feeling of the monsters living under the bed when the lights go out.

Yet the draw into the woods is the challenge. The adventure to explore the unknown is irresistible.

So many novels have been written about venturing into the unknown to resolve the curiosity and conquer the fear. Going into the woods is a rite of passage.

To some it may be overcoming the fear of flying or seeking that first kiss or perhaps buying some clothing that you know your parents won’t accept. The woods may be ventured into when first married or the birth of children or creating a new home in a new city. The woods could be as simple as creating a new meal for guest or as complicated of persuading someone to partake in physical indulgence.

So what is in "your" woods?

Me? I live in the woods. I’m the boogie man.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Living Apart

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Variation to a theme I’ve already written, but it is just that, a realization of the inevitable.

As a species we seem to gather with needs of association with like kind. Our individual needs interaction with others.

We seem to need to share like experiences to explore new ventures. There is a desire to let loose what we hold inside.

So our being seeks one who will feel comfortable with our own evaluation of the life experiences presented to us with a feeling that it is meant to be a comparative emotion.

With the discovery of a like mate to cohabitate with, the compromises come whether wanted or desired but necessary to continue the relationship.

And yet the individual wonders?

For each has desires and dreams that may not be included in this new coupling.

Is the grass greener on the other side? Was it better before we met?

Yet some relationships have complications. Finances are shared, furniture has been purchased with acceptance, and then there are the begat.

The struggle to find a common ground to make life tolerable sometimes leads to the realization that perhaps being in the same space is not the best way to be.

Work offers many opportunities for getting into a separate space at least for a few hours. Travel and long hours softens the long distance and with continuous repetition becomes common to the relationship.

Sometimes the distance is not so far away but yet necessary. The arrangement can be as easy as a dinner together then parting for the evening in different directions or a shopping incursion only to separate in a nap and a football game.

The excuse may be the time needed to have self-relevance or to contemplate the soul or to exercise the creative venture interrupted.

This is not a bad thing; it is just that we, as individuals, must have a certain amount of space to be able to understand our own consistence.
 
It is not we don’t feel compassion and whatever that other emotion is for the other person we share space with, but each of us need a certain amount of time alone to contemplate the world around us.

Trust me, this time is valuable to each of us and should not be jealous.

Knowing each individual has certain feelings and likes and desires which can somewhat intertwine with each other, enjoy the time together in the shared experiences, for they are fleeting and will only be memories.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Sunday Morning

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Wake up to the radio. The radio is always on in the morning but this morning it is classical guitar. Open the eyes and note the sunshine is starting to fill the window. Turn over and listen for a minute before sweeping the legs over the edge with bare feet on the cool floor. The comforter is on the floor where it was kicked off the bed. It seems a sheet and blanket is enough even on a cold winter night. Slip on the gray sweat pants then set back down to put on yesterday’s wool socks and vented black river slip-ons. Brush the hair to release the tangles of the night then pulls a bunch back to wrap the elastic band three times. Close the eyes to put on the clear vision makers and stare out the window to see what the morning will bring. The light is hitting the tops of the trees where the cardinals and chickadees sit quietly warming themselves. “Good morning day.” Walk to the music room and pull over the blue zippered shirt that is a size too big with arms down to the knuckles but very comfortable. Lift the gray holey hoodie and zip up both. The day looks clear but cold, yet the air in the rooms is warm. Open the curtains to let in the morning sunshine erasing the last night’s darkness. Slowly walk into the kitchen observing the layout of the house to make sure nothing has moved during the unconscious time. Open the blinds saying “Good morning guys.” Move the cooled oven to the top of the washing machine. Add some water to the pot and press down the lever. Pull the pink sugar from the canister, and then place it back by the knives. The sink still holes the one plate soaking in water and the pizza cutter used last night. They will be wiped off with a paper towel and used again tonight. Pour in some chocolate creamer and jot “creamer” on the grocery list before pulling the new package of instant coffee off the shelf. Trying to tear the thin package of premeasured coffee and realizing it won’t tear easily where marked, grab the kitchen scissors and chop off the top. Pour the contents into the hot cup and note how small the amount is. While the water starts to perk, visit the facilities to remove some of the liquid so prevalent from last night. Run cold water over the hands and pat the beach towel hanging on the back of the door, then wipe the moister on the eyes. “I’m coming” as the bubbles, tells the room it is ready. A mucus cough perhaps from last night or the cold from a couple of weeks ago that may now dry up until warm weather hits. Fill the cup with the bubbling liquid and tighten the top. The empty pizza box sits on top of the step stool waiting to be delivered to the trash. Look at the stack of home insurance papers to be reviewed later. Back to the music room and turn on the electronics, then open the black curtains and note the critters fluttering in the bamboo. Other than that there is little movement in the yard. Sit in the new fake leather chair and wheel around to put in the password. Unplug the headphones used last night to listen to recorded music that calmed the soul and made a smile and sing along to verses that told stories of times gone by. Shut down drop-box due to the connection with the network, and then log onto Facebook. Smile at a couple of comments, scroll through the silliness people write for the world to see, and learn a little more about how some people know this town. Read the message about a local dining establishment that is closing and the family living across the street has complained about for year and just found out, then respond that another redneck bar will probably replace it. Keep Facebook up then open another tab. Scroll down bookmarks to the local newspaper web site. The only story to investigate is a multiple stabbing and kidnapping, but it is on south side and away from home. The rest is all yesterday’s news. Move onto the local television news, then Huffington news all full of political gaffs, ugly dresses, celeb breakups, old television shows, and a sinking cruise ship. Open email with only junk from Apple talking about new stuff to purchase, but they have all they will get for awhile. Back to Facebook to see someone is warming herself by a fire, someone else is in love with their husband for putting clothes in the dryer, and a few pictures of dogs. Finish the cup of coffee, and then it is time to take part of the day. Slip off the morning sweats for long johns, jeans with suspenders and black shoes wore everyday the same way. Think about the bath that should have been taken yesterday, but might be taken today between the football games. Back to the sink to run the toothbrush around the mouth relieved there is no blood in the spit, only remnants of last night dinner. A swish of mouthwash and a mental note to clean the mirror before another year goes buy. Turn the two locks open and step out on the front porch to feel the air and check out the day. The wind is less than yesterday and the sun is bright. No one is stirring except for one critter across the street. Relock the front door and take the bolt off the back door. Say “Hello” to the critter on the stack of mulch finishing off yesterdays treat of sunflower seeds. Walk softly out into the shadows and stop to allow the critters to adjust to a new creature in their space. Walk slowly back to the deck observing the yard blazon in beams of light. Half of the pond has a think sheet of ice. It does feels colder than yesterday. Find the golden key and open up the room that was life support for so many years. Roll out the ride prepared for the venture. Strap on the uniform with a problem with one glove until realizing it was a peanut lodged in one finger, take a deep breath and start the journey to another world. The streets are still quiet even as it is noon and only young women are out jogging in the sunshine and cold air. The air is much colder than yesterday, but the travel is not far. Locking up and grabbing my black bag, observe the masses coming and going to the food provider under construction. Wheeling a small cart around to the usual spots of produce and deli, notice the new configuration will have a build-your-own salad bar. Great! Drive around the new layout to get seed, then back to the deli for freshly fried chicken pieces, pick up a cracked pepper steak (don’t know why but like the packaging), then reload the bullets. A pleasant checkout having the only conversation of the day was followed by a quick cold ride back home laden with the daily treats. Spread out the variety of yard treats and settle back in the warm chair with a cold drink, hot sauce on over fried chicken bites and football.
It is just another morning in just another life.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Take Care

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We say it as a parting statement, “Take Care” short for “Take Care of Yourself”. It is a charming and thoughtful phrase of good health to you and yours.

Do we know how to take care of ourselves? And more importantly, do we take care of ourselves?

In our youth, our elders try to protect us from harm by wrapping us up in the cold or warning us about danger, but we still discard layers as we run around in the snow or skid on that hill with scraps and bruises.

But in the end, our mom sends us to bed and puts a wash cloth on our head when there is a fever or makes us drink strange concoctions when we are sick or bandages our wounds sealed with a kiss to make the boo-boos go away.

And when pains become more than the usual means can handle, we are delivered to a doctor for a few minutes of strange questions and poking and prodding before we get a shot.

Then when that doesn’t solve the problem, we are rushed to a large building with lots of rooms like a hotel, but they only have beds in them. Stripped down and laid on a rolling cart, we are wheeled into a bright room and told to breath in some gas so we will sleep only to awaken in a groggy fog and a pain in our stomach where we find out later one of those masked figures cut us open and removed part of our body.

Later in life, we find that special someone who will care for each other through sickness and in health; someone who will feed the strange potions and take your temperature and pull up the covers while giving you tender loving care.

So are we really taking care of ourselves or taking care of each other?

We know what to do. The government and health commission reports and fitness gurus preach proper eating habits and exercise, then we watch for hour’s flashy ads promoting fatty, greasy, cheesy, overstuffed potions of junk with access on every corner. Our palettes become accustomed to sugar and salt and fat wrapped in starch.

And every year we begin by resolving we will eat better and exercise more, but we buy elastic clothing and sit with the remote hoping the shortness of breath or the pains in the joints or the ever-present fatigue will just go away.

In our waning years, there are organizations full of qualified medical and physical fitness and nutritional and even psychological experts who for a fee will take care of you when the family cannot. Assisted living facilities offering room and board with meals and activities to give a quality of life, as we grow older. It is great to know these professionals will make ever effort to keep you alive as long as the insurance can pay for it.

Yet some cannot afford such luxuries or do not want to prolong the inevitable. We live by our own meals when hungry, exercise when desired and rest when tired.

For in the end, we have only ourselves to take care of.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Living In The Library

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Time was when all the information and knowledge was spoken. Word of mouth spread events, occasions, wars, and wisdom with a certain degree of exaggeration and personal prejudice.

As languages grew and writing replaced the spoken word, only a few had the skill to translate these old stories into manuscripts. Again personal and religious beliefs changed the spoken word to a more acceptable writing document.

With a few that could write and read these documents, they were cherished and kept under lock and key.

As the masses became educated enough to read and printing sped up the process of recording and duplicating the written word, the demand for these books required some form of distribution.

The public library was formed. A large building full of shelves and a special staff arranged books in categories by a special code. The common person of the street, browse hundreds of 3x5 cards looking for titles or authors or subjects of interest. The card was presented to a librarian who would retrieve the book.

Slowly the process became more familiar with the public who could find their own books and even take them out of the building for a short period of time.

Still some volumes were kept in cages under lock and key due to their age and value and only visited by a rare few.

Then the computer, with its speed and volume of storage, was developed and began to house this information.  The tedious task of punch cards to typing to text recognition again sped the process of recording words and pictures, but there was no way to search all the data because these “libraries” were not linked.

And as mankind has always done, when seeing a problem, created a solution.

This one was called the Internet.

So today, we live in a library. The library is available to us every minute of every day. Every possible idea or subject or even thought can be searched with millions of words and pictures and movies and sounds at our fingertips.

But (there is always a but) how much of what we have access to is true?

Just like in the word-of-mouth stories told around the fire, the teller reacted to the listener perhaps straying from the truth or embellishing the facts. Books on the other hand were trusted because the person who wrote it was an “author” and authors were held in a certain reverence. Anyone who had the knowledge of language and grammar, anyone who would spend hours researching and documenting events in proper order or even writes about fictional stories that could thrill or scare or keep up spellbound in wonder was viewed as an esteem occupation.

And the authors of today may be anyone. Everyone can post on the Internet whether they are knowledgeable of the subject or not. Facts, opinions, thoughts, comments and even false statements can and are posted every minute for the reader or viewer to decide if it is relevant or believable.

So while surfing through all the news sites, entertainment, music, posting photos and commenting to friends you don’t know, think of how difficult is was to get information before the Internet and how we are overwhelmed now with what maybe fact or maybe fiction because we cannot always trust the author.


Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Living Together

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Strange all the little habits each of us have that we may not realize, yet living with someone else to point them out to us maybe how we adapt to the world.

The first group we live with is our family.

We don’t have much choice so early in our life molding we must follow rules presented to us by elders responsible for feeding, clothing and providing shelter. Without any power or enough money, the training is fed back for the praise and acknowledgment of the continuing of the name.

Outside groups such as schools or church or sports teams offer actions that must be filtered through the family to be accepted and followed. More and more outside influences creep into your self being as age allows more time away from the family and more responsible to present yourself as an individual.

Usually going to college is the first real test of this individual behavior. Most students not studying from home will live in dorms or apartments with a “roommate”.

A complete stranger who shares a room becomes part of the new experience of growing up. Not only are you responsible for studying and getting to class on time, but you must also dress yourself, feed yourself, and even bath occasionally with this stranger in the same room.

The first similarity is that you both are going to the same school. Everything else may become irreverent. Survival finds a way to form some kind of bond with this new person sharing “your” space. Music, literature, girls, food…. are some of the possibilities of interest that can be explored and discussed until some liked platform is agreed upon.

Roommates are just that, people that share a space and as long as agreed boundaries are accepted and followed, life can mildly adjusted to meet the new conditions.

Now throw in romance and this living together takes a whole new angle.

People living together can become close friends or buddies, but when cupid strikes a new evaluation must take place.

As casual as people try to be, when there are two toothbrushes in the bathroom, life has changed. Suddenly the socks left on the floor are no longer acceptable.

It is called compromise.

And how much each other gives to the compromise will make the new rules for the living conditions.

And the “living together” arrangements continue to mold the two into one thought pattern unknown to both. The singular individual each was searching for becomes a couple and by all appearance in clothing, furniture, artwork, even animals or children, the condition of life in inextinguishable by the two, or the one, until the situation changes.

Then the old habits come back. The socks lay on the floor. The dishes sit in the sink. The bed is unmade and there are more beer cans in the trash than before.

Realization that the “self” patterns are back and not in conflict with another must be evaluated as acceptable behavior or just child like wishes for another time. There still must be realistic expectations of living in the bigger community, yet a certain freedom presents itself.

Living together shows how much an individual can adjust for another and also how much we give up of ourselves.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Getting to know you

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Two years ago was kind of a shocker year and last year was a patch-up-and-get-back-on-your-feet year, but I learned a lot of things about myself.

I had come to the realization of where I was and what the outlook was, so I could do some self-analyzing with some interesting conclusions.


Home
I started out getting a furnace after a new roof and a lot of patching of walls. The next project was to get a bathroom floor, but I stopped. The estimate surprised me and even though I had the funds, I stopped. I bought supplies for additional projects but could not get started. I made all the excuses of it is too hot or too late or I’m too tired or I’ll wait until next season or I’ll take a vacation and come back and get inspired. None of my excuses prompted me to move on, so I gave up and just enjoyed every day.
Looking at my budget I realize I spend as much on the Internet as I do for my cell phone or my electric bill. The two credit cards are paid off every month and the taxes are paid on time.

Transportation
A trip up to Pennsylvania in the early spring was my first vacation from the house in a while. It was a pleasant uneventful ride with some interesting observations of friends who offered me their homes, food and company.
The spring brought the usual “spring overhaul” of all my wheels that I would rotate everyday for morning rides, grocery store pick-ups and just get-a-ways.
Then they were gone.
So the cost of transportation was a bit more than I had planned this year, but lesson learned.
Now the black beauties are under lock and key and the body still is adjusting to the new rides after a decade with old friends.
Still take some long walks when the weather gets too cold or windy.
And I haven’t ridden a bus in over a year.

Food
Groceries take 30% of my expenditures. 
This year I’ve discovered what food I really enjoy by testing all types of breakfast / lunch / and dinners. Everything from TV dinners and frozen pizza to deli cooked fried chicken and prepared sandwiches to fish and beef and chicken and noodles and sauces and microwave rice to canned or frozen veggies.
Shopping became a daily routine filtering out dishes that didn’t entice my flavor buds.
Also the portions of meals began to shrink.
Cooking by griddle, crock-pot, steamer, and microwave became simpler due to clean up which was reserved to one plate, one cup, one bowl and one cup.
Not having any interest for sweets, salty chips, and junk food saved a few calories, but half of my grocery budget was spent on beer.

Entertainment
Most people didn’t want to “party” due to the economy and the desire to go out became less interesting. The few gatherings have been pleasant and fairly inexpensive but thinking of eating alone has limited my ventures into dining establishments.
Movies (either in the theatre or on television) did not peak my interest. A few concerts were attended but nothing exciting.
Television viewing has become limited to nightly news and PBS weekly wrap up. The rest flash in the pan is boring, except for football.
Radio is only set to WCVE that is on all night waking me up to news and classical concerts and putting me asleep to jazz and quiet conversations.
The computer has become my connection to the outside world with e-mail and social media but I don’t spend much time surfing because I have nothing to look for. I do write on my “Just Another Life” blog (135 entries this year) that gives me an outage for those things rattling around in my head. It’s a log to record events and anyone to see and respond to. I wrote about 40 years ago experiences, Uncle Billy, a robbery, a hurricane, and lots of silly thoughts.
And though I bought new guitars, I slowed playing them until recently. Getting a new computer just to record music has gotten to play everyday during the nightly news.
The cell phone is still stupid and is only on while I’m awake. There is no surfing or texting or tweeting.
And all the other geek gadgets that have come I don’t see how I will use them.

Clothing
I am still wearing t-shirts and jeans. Simple, comfortable and utilitarian is my policy. Sweats have become the eveningwear also for comfort. There is no one around to say I should wear a sweatshirt with a hole in it or I should change my shirt before it stands up on itself. A few t-shirts went into the rag bin this summer but there are still drawers full of others. I don’t need to become a fashionable so I won’t purchase until the inventory wears out.

So as the New Year has arrived I can look back and say I understand myself more and learn more every day. I now know I am completely crazy but harmless. I can entertain and feed myself and even transport myself to distant places. I can participate in conversations but will probably lose interest quickly. I seem to attract other crazies like Wild Eyed Willy or Crazy Eddie or Rosco, the Mayor of Kroger but the real chills come from the occasional smile and comment by the passing jogger. Met some youngsters and experienced what I might have enjoyed 30 years ago, but marked it up as part of history. Went through what could had turned into a romance but logic overruled. Met some people I had not seen in decades with a better understand of why not. 

And little desire to change, so here I am self sufficient, content, and settled. I guess that is not a bad place to be, but I’ll continue to learn more this year.

I’ll let you know what happens.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy at the Hyatt

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There is nothing new about taking a vacation and checking into a hotel to place your belongings on the bed then heading for the bar.

Except when it is a holiday.

Say “New Years Eve” and there is no place to go. Your friends and family are busy, there are no parties in the neighborhood and no one has invited you to any local gathering, so where do you go to celebrate the welcoming of the New Year?

All the local taverns are having special night events, but when the bar closes you have to get a cab or a ride home in the cold night air.

For what is the best place to go to for the “New Years” celebration full of drinking and laughter and watching the ball drop then wander off to the bedroom - without staying at home?

A hotel.

They are all open on New Year’s Eve because hotels are 24/7 operations and they all have fully stocked bars.

So I reserve a room and pack a light bag only be staying one night, lock up the house and walk to the building with more bedrooms than Windsor Castle. After the cordial welcome at the desk and the required paperwork, I get your plastic card and wander to the elevator to take me to my one day home.

Placing my now worldly goods in the closet, I flip on the television that has the same shows as home, touch ever piece of furniture in the room, turn through the desk numbers for room service and check the drawer for the bible. Going to the window, I stare at the parking lot below seeing other travelers coming and going.

So as the time grows closer, I shower and shave and dress as if I am going to impress another with no one in mind. For the first time in two years, I wear a collared shirt and a sports coat. Closing the door and reversing my steps I drop to the lobby then turn to the noise coming from a dark hidden space.

The hotel restaurant.

The room full of table clothes tables and several groups and couples enjoying the beginning of a long evening. I’m seated in a corner and handed a menu while being asked if I would like some refreshment. Knowing that I will order a steak, I order a bottle of red wine. A couple of minutes later, the waiter brings me the wine list. Not being a expert on wine, I point out an Cabernet Sauvignon and the list is torn from my hands as he rushes off. After a few more minutes of unfolding the napkin and arranging the silver wear the waiter returns with a basket of rolls and ask if I am ready to order. He starts to tell me of the nightly specials when I interrupt his spiel with a request for a steak and a baked potato. “You get two sides” he replies then impatiently waits as I open the minute again. “French style green beans” and the menu leaves me alone again. I entertain myself tearing open the butter and spreading it on the cold bread. As I take a large bite, the wine arrives with a taste poured into a glass. Blowing chunks of bread, I sniff the glass, swirl it around and take a sip. I nod approval since I cannot speak with a mouthful and the bottle is left on the table. The wine is very bold and heavy, to heavy for bread so I try to get the attention of one of the passing waiters to request a glass of water with no success. The first glass is emptied and I pour another before the steak arrives. A huge plate of meat covered in mushrooms and some sort of gravy with a open potato along side. A small bowl of green beans and I finally get a chance to order my water. As I butter my potato realizing it is not very hot, I do not see a steak knife. I will need something sharper than this butter knife to attack this half of cow. When my water arrives in a spotted glass, I ask for a steak knife. Now I seem to be ticking off the waiter who turns quickly back to the kitchen. I finish putting the other little pat of butter on the potato and have a sample of the beans. They are somewhat warm and very stringy. A wooden serrated knife still steaming was a washing is placed on the table and I begin savoring my New Years meal. Cutting into the steak, it is a little more done than the usual medium rare I’m accustomed to and the potato is hard, almost raw.
I sat for some time, just sipping the wine and observing the surroundings because this was more food than I normally have in a week. Finishing off the bottle I waited for the check or some attention. Finally the waiter in passing notices I have pushed the half finished plate to the other side of the table and stops. “Will there be anything else, sir?” I sign the check with my room number and notice he was going to get 15% tip whether he earned it or not.

Now I was on to my intended destination.

The hotel bar.


Waiting at the door I observe where I would start the New Year. Several couples are sitting at small tables around tiny candles. They are lean toward each other in quick conversation and smiles under the dim of chatter filling the air. At one long table a half dozen people wave their arms and move glasses back and forth with loud shouts and uproarious laughter.

The few hotel staff in black skirts and white shirts bustle back and forth between the tables removing empty glasses and nodding to new orders without smiles. This is how they will celebrate the coming of a new year.

Instead of moving to another lonely table, the bar stool looks more inviting.
Scanning the variety of sizes, shapes, and colors of bottles against a reflective glass, I start to become wrapped up in the atmosphere. One of the hotel wait staff puts down her tray, walks behind the bar to me. “What will you have?” she asks with a dowered face.

I do not see any taps so I don’t ask what is on draft. Since she already seems frustrated with me, I point to a bottle of Bass ale and reply, “It’s only one night.” She looked confused then turns to acknowledge my direction before reaching into a metal bin under a sliding door and pulls a similar bottle out of a bucket of ice, shakes it off, pops the top on a metal opener, pulls a paper napkin and places the dripping bottle on it. “Do you want a glass?” she asks. I look directly into her eyes pulling the bottle toward me saying, “No, I want a smile.” She again stares at me blankly with a little attitude as if she had heard that line a million times, then moves back to the corner of the bar.

Taking the first gulp, I swivel around and notice the big screen television on the wall is already showing Times Square with the sound down or at least being drowned by the room, as it grows nosier with every delivery. Looking left down the padded bar there are two men jotting some things down on a piece of paper oblivious to the rest of the world. They were probably just transient workers who do not stop even on a holiday. To my right is a woman lost in her olive rolling it around her martini. Her hair has been pampered and she is dressed to the nines. Probably awaiting her date or husband or whatever to meet her here to move onto a big night.

Trying to avert my eyes and not stare, I turn back to the big TV watching the scripted events for the holiday and wonder why the masses of people want to stand in the cold blowing horns and wearing funny hats for hours just to say they were there.

As the night goes on, the room thins as several couples and the loud group leaves. Perhaps they are going to their rooms in the hotel or leaving after this brief rendezvous.

The hotel staff slows their pace standing together at the end of the bar, talking and giggling and occasionally wandering back behind swinging doors to what must be the kitchen.

On one of my bathroom breaks, I pass a conference room full of people and tables and chairs and balloons and streamers and a three-piece band playing to a few dancing couples wearing paper hats. A sign next to the door says “New Years at the Hyatt - $10 per couple.”

On my return I notice the young lady still sitting at the bar and wonder why?

“Ready for another” the bartender, says wakening me from the dull hum of the television. I turn and notice my glass is empty and agree with a nod. She repeats her dance and places the dripping bottle on the stained napkin. “Could I have another napkin and a smile?” I ask trying to be witty. She pulls a new 3” x 3” napkin from a stack by the cash register, removes the old soggy napkin dropping it into a pale next to her foot, slamming the bottle back down and stomping off to the corner to tell her staff mates the story of the rude customer. Sometimes trying to be humorous doesn’t work. Reaching across the bar, I grab a hand full of napkins and stack them next to me while burning with the stares in the corner. I wipe off the bottle and toss the balled up wad onto the floor, maybe entering the tub. I wrap another napkin, now appearing as dollar bills, around my bottle and turn back to the quieting room and the flashing celebration on the wall.

I noticed the woman at the bar was still sitting spinning her martini with little attention from anyone else. After a couple of minutes of looking then looking away then looking again, I turn to the hotel staff mumbling in the darken corner and wave my hand.

They all look at each other and with some annoyance; one puts down her glass and slowly comes up to the bar. “I’d like to buy that woman a drink.” I motion to the stranger sitting two seats away. “What do you want to buy her?” she asked in a graveled voice. “Whatever she wants.” I reply with a Cheshire cat smile.

With some distain she wanders down the bar to the woman pointing to me and to her glass. The woman looks up slowly then with a confused posture turns her face to me. I’ve already turned back to the television but cannot resist capturing the scene out of the corner of my eye. I hear the bartender huffing back to the bar and mixing the shaker.

As she takes the glass and removes the old placing it into a stainless steel sink, I turn and say, “Thank you.” Which catches her off guard. “Can I buy you…” then looking into the dark corner, “and your friends anything?” She stops, looking surprised and stammers, “No, ah, we are not supposed to drink on work.” Then she shyly smiles.

“There it is.” I smile back.

She glides back to her white shirted associates in the corner and they start laughing.

It is getting closer to midnight so someone turns up the sound on the television. Two or three comments are made by the announcer trying to speak over the crowd, then a commercial blares in.

“Thank you.” I hear from the side. The nice looking lady walked up to me with drink in hand and taps her glass on my bottle. “Happy New Year.”

A long pause was broken by a smile and then an odd statement was blurted, “I just thought you might like….” I could finish my thought because I didn’t know what my thought was.

She looked at the stool next to me and asked if she could sit there knowing it was not occupied.

She sat on the stool next to me and we started small talk. Names, drinks, and a fluffy explanation on why we were sitting at a bar in a hotel on New Years Eve were discussed as if they were factual. She told me she had to be in Baltimore Tuesday but her car broke down and was across the street being repaired. As we talked I wondered why she was so dressed up but then again I was pretty dressed up for the night. The group in the corner watched our actions like a soap opera and giggled.

Now the bartender smiles as she interrupts our conversation presenting another round without request. We have become the entertainment for the room.

The kitchen door opened and a man in a tuxedo stuck his head out and motioned to the girls in the corner. They quickly followed him back into the kitchen then in a steady stream started delivering bottles of champagne to all the participants of the bar. A bottle was delivered to the two of us sitting on stools with two glasses with the Hyatt logo etched on it. It was almost midnight.

We all stared at the television and counted the minutes off in unison. 10….9….8…. and then “Happy New Year!” was shouted with smiles and clinking of glasses. For a brief moment everyone in the room seemed totally happy.

Sharon, I believe her name was, and I looked at each other. Leaning toward each other we shared saliva without a doctors exam. It was just the moment.

Now everyone was excited and new orders scurried the staff. Another bottle of champagne was delivered and the waitress said since we were on separate tickets, we each gets a bottle. We all laughed and I ordered one last bottle of ale and indicated that the lady and my tickets be combined.

Some more brief statements becoming less meaningful or informative and more attention to the television, I placed the final bottle down, signed the tab and bid adieu to my companion, stumbling toward the elevator.

Finding my blurred way to my room, I peel of the jacket and the shirt now soaked with sweat and slap on some sweats. I turn on the television out of habit, close the curtains and unfold the covers on the bed. Thinking I might see some news after a night of senseless entertainment, I stack the pillows and get comfortable with the remote. Then a knock on the door.

I didn’t even look through the peephole, just swung open the door.

“Sara?” (Maybe it was Sharon? Or Karen?) “How did you find me?”

She held up the etched glass and said, “You forgot your glass.” Then she held up the other bottle of champagne and said, “and I needed someone to share this with.”

Being a man of scruples and a bit of discretion, I will leave the rest of this to your imagination.

A warm sunny first day of the year made the walk home agreeable and found a bottle of wine left on my doorstep by a friend. Nice surprise.

Unpacking and putting things away I found her business card and phone number. I threw it away because it was just what it was and will be that smile no one else will know.

Having a happy at the Hyatt.

PS – Forgot the two glasses. Don’t need any more memories.