Friday, April 30, 2010

You never know who you'll meet when you go out to eat

Wednesday night, I had nothing to do and I didn't want to do nothing. So I sort of spontaneously decided to take myself out for dinner to celebrate My Big Sale. I was downtown when I made this decision, I wanted to watch the Rays game and happened to have a gift certificate from Hattricks (an aside: How much do I love Hattricks? A lot! Tampa's best/only hockey bar, great food and even better service. I need to go there more often, gift certificate or not.). All the stars were aligned perfectly. Even more so when I pulled up right out in front and there wasn't another car on the street. Imagine my surprise when I opened the door and the place was packed. I'd forgotten it was game 7 of the NHL first round playoffs between Montreal and Washington (another aside: Way to go, Washington. You worked all season long to have the best record in the conference and earn the number one seed just so you could piss it away in the first round and play a whole seven more games than all the dog-ass teams who didn't even make the playoffs, like the Lightning. Way. To. Go.) and apparently everybody had either carpooled or walked. So as I stood there like a big, dumb, old, ugly idiot, all by myself, waiting for people to leave, I passed the time by alternately flashing back to being in school and the anxiety that would set in when I couldn't find a place to sit at lunch time (yet another aside: the whole time I was in high school, lunch every day for four years, I think I sat at a total of maybe three different tables. What is that all about?) and wishing at least one person at a table of what appeared to be lawyers who had obviously finished some time ago would just pitch forward onto the table, dead, so I could sit there (after they disinfected it or whatever first). Also, while standing there like a big, dumb, old, ugly idiot, all by myself, I decided that since it was so busy and I certainly didn't need a whole table and three extra chairs to myself, that if anybody asked to sit there with me, I would without hesitation say yes.
As it turned out, after I'd been seated (at the table the lawyers finally abandoned) for about 20 minutes, I saw a thing red-haired woman in overalls and about hundred tattoos looking around for somewhere to sit and finding nothing. She approached and said apologetically, "I'm really sorry to bother you, but we've been travelling all day and we're really hungry. Would it be okay if we sat here with you?" As I'd promised to the universe silently, I said sure and invited her and her group to sit down. Her name was Heather Luttrell and she was with her dad, Ralph, and their friend John. They're musicians and they were in town because the next day they were heading out on a cruise, playing with Kid Rock for a bunch of his fans on a tropical cruise. These music cruises are kind of a big deal in travel/entertainment right now. Fans pay premium prices for the privilege of travelling with their favorite artists and getting to see them perform in a unique and more intimate venue than normal. I looked it up and prices for the Kid Rock cruise start at $800. Heather has been doing this for a while now, having played on some Lynrd Skynrd cruises. I don't know why, other than the fact that they always have great stories to tell, but I love talking to musicians. And as we sat there, me keeping an eye on the Rays game, they entertained me with stories about vans breaking down, the struggles of artists trying to figure out how to make a living in the digital age (she has an album out on iTunes, 14 songs, $9.99. "That's not even a lousy dollar a song!") and especially her dad's colorfully descriptive tale of how two young ladies taught him what a "body shot" was. They were great, a lot of fun, and even though I hadn't heard her music, I was Tweeting by phone, telling people to check her out. As it turns out, she's really, really good...

They left and thanked me for sharing the table but I was the one who was glad they came. It was a very nice evening with very nice people.


Wildhair said...

I love this story. Yep. I sure enough did enjoy reading it. :)

Dawn Elliott said...

This story reminds me of when I first moved to Seattle. I spent months trying to make friends via volunteering and taking artsy classes, but I still failed to connect. I was a little scared to do certain things on my own (like go see music), and I hated the feeling that I was letting myself miss out on the city.
So one night I took myself to my neighborhood music joint. It wasn't crowded, but there were only a few tables and they were all occupied, and no one was standing around. Of those tables only one of those parties actually seemed alive, and I approached them and asked if I could join them. They happily invited me to sit down and share their pitcher, and were all very impressed with me(so was I - I haven't really done that before or since). And it still didn't lead to any long term friendships, but at least I had a really memorable, social night out.