To Chat or Not To Chat–THAT is the Question

As my last post was very serious, this post changes pace and is a somewhat humorous story of trying to find joy in another “fish of out water” adventure. It is a rambling post that I hope will bring a smile or two to your face.

I am always trying to find fun things to do and not spend all my time in front of the TV or computer when not at work. I have enjoyed the Saturday afternoon wine tastings on the Marietta Square at the Marietta Wine Market. I truly know very little about wines and these events have been beneficial to me plus just fun.

So, on a whim last week I decided to go after work to the Wine Tasting at a local restaurant, Aspens, at the West Cobb Avenue. I had some errands to run first and arrived at Aspens at 7:30.

The wine tasting is from 6 to 8 so there was still a bit of time. They have a table set up just outside the bar area with all the wines and for $10 you get to try several wines. It looked good to me but then I ran into my first glitch of the evening.

The hostess told me you pay at the bar and get your glass but then you have to sit at the bar. (I realized later that was not really true–you could pay at the bar and then mill around the wine tasting area.)

There was a problem with this. I have never sat at a bar by myself…..and past readers know from the Two Monkeys post that my first venture just going to a bar/grill was a humorous but also a disastrous experience (2012-10-20 Two Monkeys… Three Sheets… What’s a Girl to Do?).

So, I looked at the bar area–lots of couples and a few groups of 2 or 3 women. I did see a group of 4 empty seats so I headed over there and sat in one of the middle seats. The very nice bartenderess (is that what you call a woman bartender?) greeted me; took my money and gave me my wine glass.

I was looking over the wine list getting ready to go get a taste. And then a man came over and asked if I was saving the seat next to me (I had my purse on the counter) and when I said no, he sat down next to me.


So, I looked at him and very quickly decided he was not my type. (He did not have smiling eyes.)

But I thought…… is ok……take a deep breath……view this as a learning experience….. your first time trying to make conversation at a bar. (Did I just write that?????  More aughghgghgh.)

Ok, so I am totally clueless on bar etiquette never having done this. Do I say hi? Do I say how was your day? Ya come here often? Do I ignore him and look at the TV?  (I was thinking that was the best option.)

Aughgggggggggg.. So, I smiled and said something about the football game on TV (the Oregon Ducks were getting ready to play in the Fiesta Bowl. Go Ducks!!)

He said something back and I made couple of other comments and then the conversation died. Totally died. Now, my mother taught me that conversation is like a game of tennis…you lob the ball and they hit back and then you volley back and forth….volley…volley…volley…. etc. But I either hit the ball out of bounds or he was just too tired to volley.

He was, however, not too tired to go into great detail with the bartender on how he wanted his hamburger cooked (pink but not too red…bla bla bla) and that they needed to not put too much garlic on the green beans and one time they were too garlicky (he told me that and I agreed that garlicky green beans were a bad thing) and he then told me that he would not eat the hamburger bun as he was off carbs.

I very quickly decided now was a great time to for me to go to the wine tasting table and try a taste of anything I could find. When I returned to my seat, I decided to order a salad for dinner and eat at the bar–I had good seat for the football game and decided to watch some of the game and stick this out.

So then “Mr.-Quiet-likes-his-Hamburger-Just-Pink” offered me his bread (as in the nice bread that comes with the dinner, not his hamburger bun) as he is not doing carbs (oh yeah, you know that) and put it next to my salad. I first declined but after 10 minutes gave into the temptation and had some.

I did try a couple of more times to engage in conversation but it just died. And that made me nervous as I know I talk too much. My ex-husband used to tell me this and my former boss, Virgil, would occasionally let me know I was a bit “chatty” and I am aware of this.

I am just one of those people who always has ideas and thoughts churning in her head…sort of “wind her up and let her go” but in my case you do not have to wind me up…..I just go. So, I make a conscious effort when I go places to say to myself “DO NOT TALK” and sometimes I am successful and sometimes I am not.

I am thinking…. to chat or not to chat? Perhaps he is tired after a long day of work and just wants to eat his hamburger and non-garlicky green beans in silence. So I quit talking and just ate my salad and his bread and watched the football game (really good bread may I add….so glad he gave it to me).

So, he then finishes his dinner and is chatting with the bartender and asks if they still have oysters on Tuesdays and find out they do and then he looks at me and asks if I like oysters.

I answer “Yes I do”. (Actually, I hate oysters but I was so taken aback at his asking something that I did not want to kill this tiny attempt at conversation. I only like oysters if they are fried and disguised in an Oyster Po-Boy with lots of remoulade sauce. They are slimy and scary to look at.)

So, he gets up and puts his hand on my shoulder and says maybe he will see me at one of the Tuesday oyster nights (I am thinking there is a snowball chance in you know where) but I smile back. And he leaves.

I still have some salad and wine left (I had eaten all his bread–did I mention it was good?) and I am watching the game. I look around the bar area. There are still lots of couples and small groups but now sitting 3 seats down from me is another man. He has his drink (a tonic and gin maybe? not wine) but he looks very serious and intent …..a cross between a brooding troubled person and an axe murderer.

At this point I texted my son (who I had let know earlier that I was going to the Wine Tasting) that I was still at Aspens but so far it was a bit dysfunctional.

Pitiful huh? I am sitting at a bar texting my son.  Sigh.

I then realize that the bartenderess (Erin) was chatting with Mr. Serious and needed him to move so she could get 4 seats together and I am not sure how this is going as it looks like she needs him to move closer to me and he does not seem too cheerful about this and I can count the seats and she will not have enough so I volunteer to move down one seat next to this couple and then I do so and Mr. Serious is now sitting next to me and not looking happy about this.

So, once again I try my conversation skills and once again….. dead in the water.

At this point, I remember what my son told me about my going to a bar and making conversation which was “First of all you can strike up a conversation w/ a door knob.  I’ve seen you do it first hand.  So where you are doing it at really means nothing.  And I didn’t say strike up a conversation w/ someone you were sitting next to at the bar, i say the bartender. Who is paid to, among other things, make conversation with you and is happy to do so.”

I now am thinking that there must have been a really important reason he said “And I didn’t say strike up a conversation w/ someone you were sitting next to at the bar, i say the bartender. Who is paid to, among other things, make conversation with you and is happy to do so.”

Truth is…. I was doing just fine with Erin the bartenderess….who did seem happy to talk to me. (Of course, she seemed happy to talk anyone seated at the bar.) And although my son thinks I can strike up a conversation with a doorknob, apparently even I have my limits.

I finished up my salad and wine in silence while watching the football game and then headed out. Mr. Serious did offer to help me with my coat but I declined.

On the way home, just as with the post from Two Monkeys, I found myself laughing out loud. I am sometimes so out of my league…. and yet, I remain committed to fully living my life…to stepping out of the boat… finding joy…. and to continue to grow and learn.

And I did actually learn one thing from this outing……….and that was from Erin. She let me try two different chardonnays and explained the difference between them and I could in the future, if I went to a restaurant with a nice gentleman caller with smiling eyes and I was ordering a glass of wine, I could say with assurance…”What chardonnays do you have that are aged in oak barrels? I prefer those with a buttery taste.” I will sound so sophisticated!

Ah yes….. to be Clueless yet Sophisticated…… that may be my new goal.