Saturday, February 23, 2008

Moderation in winter

I had a little reminder of what it is like to be a normal grown up rather than a slave to kid-sized creatures this week. I also discovered that it isn't as hard to be social during my normally reclusive month of February as I had been making it out to be. I met friends for drinks twice in one week.

The first event took place after a parent's meeting at my kid's preschool (Open house March 7! Ms. Juli is GOD!). Lea and I headed down to a newish Cuban restaurant called Cafe Habana and sat at the bar and tried their Mojitos. Sarah and Brian met us after they had an elementary school parent's meeting ('tis the season) and we all reveled in the opportunity to a)be in a bar on a week night! b)talk to grown ups! c)stay up past 9:30 pm (the time at which I usually have wrestled my resistant sleepers into submission and promptly collapsed myself). The drinks were good but the noise and smoke level made me prefer the also-good Mojitos at Zanzibar.

When we left the bar and were walking back to the car, Lea and I noticed the moon looking a little funny. As the driver, I had only consumed one Mojito, so I didn't think it was alcohol to blame for my perception--the moon looked weirdly red and round. When we got home and I checked with my resident astronomer, I found out that we had been seeing the lunar eclipse! It was really beautiful (if you missed it, check out all these images on Flickr) and I think I enjoyed it even more because of the chance factor--no planning, just the luck of being out at night with a friend and looking up into a clear night sky.

Then last night I skipped out at 8:30 and met my friend Emily at The Earle. I discovered that it wasn't that hard to leave the house (even for the second time in a week) and meet up with a friend after the kids were (mostly) ready for bed. It was really, really good to reconnect with an old friend from my UMS days who I have not seen in way too long. I also discovered that The Earle has one of my favorite wines on their wine-by-the-glass menu at the moment--Woop Woop Australian Shiraz 2006.

The key these grown up evenings being workable is moderation--I didn't stay out really late either time and I didn't have more than one alcoholic drink, so getting up the next morning and dealing with the responsibilities of the day weren't difficult at all. I think in the past I've been so relieved to get a break that I have perhaps indulged too much and for too long and then regretted it the next day. Fatigue and dehydration made me think that meeting up with friends in winter was just too hard to do regularly, but now I think I can make the rest of this grim season a little more tolerable by scheduling more evenings of moderation.

And with that realization, I ask for recommendations so I can diversify my locations beyond Zanzibar and The Earle. I'm ok with being a frequent patron of these two places, but I'd bet there are other places I don't know about that I'd enjoy too. Send me your suggestions of other bars/restaurants that fulfill the following conditions:
1) a non-smoking section
2) not too loud to have a conversation
3) they are ok with you ordering one drink and hanging out for a while on a weeknight when no-one else is waiting for your table or seat (I love the wait staff at the Earle--they totally get it that grown ups need a place to talk over a glass of wine and I've never felt rushed there; yes, I tip accordingly, as though my table was a cab with a meter running, not just a percentage of the cost of my one glass of wine).
4) While there may be nicely attired patrons, you don't feel like you have to get gussied up to go there--I'm just too damn tired for gussying on a weeknight.