Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Going Solo to the Lounge

In an effort to broaden my horizons, get some exercise, and find yet another way to make a fool out of myself in public, I'm taking swing dance lessons.  It turns out that despite being uncoordinated and not the least bit graceful, I don't suck quite as badly at it as I think I do.  Or so I've been told by kind partners who may have just been saying that.

My class is on Tuesday evening at 6:30, which I think is great.  I'd love it if all my evening activities were this early as it greatly increases my odds of getting home early enough to go to bed on time.  And since my lovely little white dog has now decided we must wake every morning between 3:00 and 3:30 to go potty, I need to go to bed at bedtime as often as I can.  The downside of my 6:30 class is that it is inner SE Portland.  And "rush" hour traffic has become a serious problem that easily lasts several hours depending on the weather and which of the two north-south running freeways you take. 

This is only a four week class and last week for class #2, I was late due to the combination of the aforementioned evening commute and Blazer traffic.  You would think that by now I'd be used to them having games and their stadium being right off the freeway, but no.  It never occurs to me to check to see if that's going to be an issue before leaving the house.  So last week was unfortunately not really worth the time and effort it took to get there.

So this week, I decided to be smart and head across the river super early and find a place for happy hour prior to class.  I don't drink but who doesn't love food at discount prices?  I settled on a place Mapquest showed to be reasonably close to and which turned out to be kitty-corner from the dance studio.  It really does not get anymore convenient than that!  I've been here once before for a Portland Cello Project concert, but that was in the basement so this was the first time I'd been in the lounge itself.

The lounge was pretty small with really loud techno music.  Mirrors everywhere gave it a larger and somewhat of what I imagine a bad 70's porno would be like vibe.  (The low lights didn't help that image.  And it's connected to a hotel...).  But I wasn't there for the atmosphere.  I was there to not be late for class.

For being 5:00, the place had a decent number of patrons.  (There's also an outside area with heat lamps but it was cold out so I didn't investigate).  A couple sat at the bar not talking to each other.  Another guy sat at the other end of the bar.  I would have sat at the bar as it had the best lighting and I brought a book (yeah, I'm that awesome), but I didn't want to sit between these people in the off chance they wanted to be social.  (Yep.  Still awesome).  I settled for a small table where I could sit and eat my cheese fries and drink my pineapple-orange juice combo in peace.  Sadly, it was too dark to read so I did what anyone else in my shoes would do:  texted a running commentary to my friends in between checking Facebook.  I also toyed with going over and chatting with another solo patron also playing with his phone a but then I saw the ring.  And then his companion arrived and he moved across the bar so they could sit by the fireplace, which was now available due to the two women who had been occupying this spot leaving.

Instead I sat and listened to the two men sitting beside me.  Or rather one of the two men who went on and on and on and on about playwrights.  He's an actor, it turns out.  I know this time because of the numerous times he said "As an actor, I..."  I entertained thoughts of turning this into a drinking game, while thinking if I was on a date with this man, I'd likely want to gouge out my eyeballs because that would be less painful.  I ultimately realized the younger of the two seemed to be interviewing him.  Not because all he did was ask questions (he didn't get to say much) but because I realized he was taking notes.  When they left, the younger one seemed rather shell shocked.  I wanted to ask if it had indeed been an interview but somehow that seemed like it would be rude so I gathered up my stuff. 

I joined two others at the bar to pay my tab.  I was slightly caught off-guard when the bartender asked for my name as by this point, I was the only woman in the bar who had a tab going.  But on the other hand, I do appreciate his wanting to make sure to charge the correct card for my meal (well, to the extent cheese fries constitutes a meal). 

I don't really think I'm a lounge person.  I don't mind going out to eat alone.  But there was something sad about just sitting there by myself eating my fries and drinking my juice.  I discovered there's a coffee shop across from the lounge so next week, I'll give that a try.  Maybe that will be more my speed, though I suspect the other patrons won't be nearly so eclectic.  And they likely won't have cheese fries.