Every Wednesday night, the basement bar at C&O Restaurant in Charlottesville, VA, hosts a gypsy jazz trio -- two acoustic guitars and an accordion, playing jaunty standards in the style of Paolo Conte.
After enjoying a brief plate of lamb and a long train Scotches, I made the sophomoric mistake of leaving on my flash when trying to take a few seconds of video. Given the eensy-beensyness of the bar, I was obviously the culprit. I gave my best apologetic smile and put the damn phone away.
Photo courtesy of C&O. Filter courtesy of Instagram?
All was forgiven and forgotten quickly enough, and the regulars went on happily chatting with the bartenders, who were clearly forgiving of the more eccentric and/or idiotic patrons.
Case in point: take their resident Ignatius J. Reilly. Despite getting in a drunken brawl a month prior, and taking up nearly two seats with his bag of oversized carabiners and other survivalist accoutrements, Anthony the bartender will still rest the portly man's hat and cane behind the bar while IJR intones one "radical" threat after another. "You're shocked that I'm drinking again?? What if I read the New York Times aloud to everyone, right here, right now? Would that shock you?? Would it?!"
He was actually delightful, and I was pleased to have him as my neighbor, despite his tendency to spit while speaking.
The person I (and at least several others) found insufferable was a man I'll call "T." T was in the latter-end of middle age, and turned his corner of the bar into a stage for his non-stop commentary on the shameful condition of our politics, environment, activism, and so on.
"May I share this anecdote with you?" he'd ask the bartender, preparing to rattle off another memorized statistic about the deplorable state of our...anything. "Just the one," was the bartender's shrewd response. Zing.
Eager to make every interaction a reprisal of My Dinner with Andre,his energy was casually predatory as he sought people to impress. He ensnared a UVA undergrad studying sculpture in a conversation about public art, and would ask him leading questions to aggrandize his perspicacity: "Well, clearly the...wouldn't you agree...so would you say that...yes, I thought that's what you meant."
I spent 10 minutes mentally dressing down that man for foisting himself upon us, then went on to blind 20-something people with my camera flash because of my own carelessness.
Lesson learned: leave well enough alone and just drink your damned drink.