So my dear wife Karen’s is off on an overnighter with her friends to Alex Bay, and Friday night wings at Chadwick’s were calling my name.
The sports bar a couple blocks from the Little Bitty in the Syracuse city neighborhood of Eastwood has owner Billy behind the bar, a good cook in the kitchen, 19 Crimes Red Blend on the shelf …
And you never know who might walk in and what they might have to say as you’re sitting there mostly minding your own business.
This time a guy I’ve never seen before walks in, declaring he’s on a birthday bus trip with friends. He’s wearing a hockey jersey. He says he told the crew to stop when he saw the lights of Chadwick’s. About, oh, 10 others, men and women, couples, walk in several minutes later. I see no signs of a bus, but I’m glad that one passenger knows Tim, my next-stool conversation neighbor as I was eating my 10 medium wings with carrot and celery sticks and blue cheese dipping sauce and sipping my wine.
New guy asks me to guess how old the Birthday Boy is. Politely I go with mid-50s. The corrects answer, I’m surprised to hear, is 68. Birthday Boy beams. Somebody hands him a beer bottle and a shot. They clunk the top of his bottle with their’s to make it foam over. Bar tricks! Laughter. I order a diet soda from Billy. I gotta drive home safely. But not yet.
A small knot of the party starts bottle-thunking and Trump-bashing and including Tim and I in the community glow before retreating to the high-tops.
Birthday Boy decides to tell us how he met his wife, pointing to the woman with the white top on over at the high-tops.
In 1983, he stepped into a now-gone bar called the Pour House West …
No, back story first. A group of women were in a Warren Street alley bar the Copper Kettle and hated it, so one of them called the Pour House West and asked the bartender how many people were there. Forty, the guy answered. How many were men? Oh, 35. So they left the downtown bar for Pour House West.
Where he ends up between her and her girlfriend. And tries to pick up her girlfriend. With no success. But as they’re leaving, the woman he paid no attention to shakes his hand and sticks a piece of paper in his hand. On it is her phone number. No name. He sticks it in his pocket. And throws the jacket on the floor of his car.
Fast forward a year. His friend asks him if he wants to go out. He says sure, picks up his jacket, and finds this piece of paper with a phone number. He calls it and says, Are you a woman, and would you like to go out with me and my friend?
She gives him an address and says she’ll be waiting outside.
When he and his friend pull up, he sees this knockout in a white tube top, shorts, and little white socks with those red bouncy knit balls on the back. He’s floored.
While they’re talking he finds out that her friend had just dropped her off at home for a five-minute pit stop. If he hadn’t called just then, they never would have met. Gotten married. Lived this happy three decades.
I walked over and shook her hand and told her how much I loved how they met. She punched his arm and rolled her eyes.
I may have botched a small detail or two but I don’t think so. I only had two glasses of wine and all those wings.
Once in a while, you hear the best bar story.
Has a stranger in a bar ever treated you like one of the crowd? Do you prefer to talk to strangers or avoid them? What’s the best bar story you’ve every heard?