I’m a creature of habit, a lover of routine. This gives me comfort, a sense that all’s right with the world. When all is going according to, well, how it usually goes, there’s no anxiety, no worry, no sense of being overwhelmed.
There also isn’t a whole lot of excitement, stimulation or fun.
And, then there was the night I spent with a burlesque dancer.
It started like any routine Saturday night for me. Sitting at home, on the couch, waiting for the latest “Doctor Who” episode to come on. I do know how to party down.
I was counting down the minutes, when I realized that this was definitely not breaking with routine. So, I logged onto Twitter and Facebook, and posted the following: “No plans tonight. What’s everyone up to?”
The silence was deafening. Apparently, either everyone else was waiting for Doctor Who and didn’t want to be disturbed, or nobody wanted to have plans with me. After wallowing for a minute in a high school flashback of “Nobody likes me” paranoia, I decided to get proactive. If nobody was inviting me in on their plans, I’d horn in on someone else’s.
And, that’s exactly what I did. I saw a friend on Facebook post that she didn’t have plans and wanted to head to a local cocktail lounge. I commented that I had no plans, either. She said, let’s meet. And, so we did.
(And, no, that friend is not the burlesque dancer. Be patient, grasshopper. All will be revealed.)
So, I was headed out with very last-minute plans on a Saturday night. So not like me. This was good. Even better? I’d never been to this place before, wasn’t exactly sure where it was, and wasn’t entirely sure where to find parking. Woot woot! Living on the edge!
I arrived. My friend wasn’t there yet. (This, despite the fact that I’d had to turn around and go home when I was halfway there because, in my rush to get ready, I couldn’t remember if I’d turned off my iron. There’s breaking routines and there’s burning down the house…) So, I marched up to a hostess and said “I haven’t been here before. Is it open seating?” She said no, and that their tables were full, but I could sit at the bar.
Sit at the bar? Wow. I’d never done that before either. Sure. OK.
So, I sat at the bar. While waiting for my friend, I perused the drink menu. I rarely drink and have no idea what to order in a hip cocktail place. The week before I’d survived a get-together at another cocktail bar by getting a booze-wise friend (I call her Drink Yoda) to order for me. This time I was flying solo. I quickly ran down the drink list until I came to the improbably-named Pisco Sour. What it lacked in an appealing name, it made up for in familiar ingredients; Drink Yoda had picked out relatively the same cocktail for me.
So, I ordered the Pisco Sour. (But not before telling the bartender I don’t drink much and would appreciate him warning me if I’d just ordered something that would put me under the table. He assured me it wouldn’t.) In the process of making my Pisco Sour, he proceeded to crack an egg. This did not alarm me. My drink the week before had had a raw egg white. Drink Yoda had explained this was common in drinks, and the practice dates back to Prohibition when the alcohol in your local speakeasy left a little to be desired palate-wise. Egg whites and cream were often added to drinks to improve the taste. The bonus? Egg whites give a drink a nice froth.
The egg-cracking caught the attention of the people next to me, who inquired just what the heck the bartender was doing. He explained, and I, in an authoritative voice I was sure would do Drink Yoda proud, added the color about Prohibition. They were impressed — and, then proceeded to order a Pisco Sour for themselves. More egg-cracking ensued. More expressions from further down the bar of intrigue. More Pisco Sours ordered. This went on until the entire bar had ordered one.
I was no longer just breaking routines, I was setting trends!
By this time my friend had arrived and we settled into conversation, that also included the night’s DJ who had set up at our end of the bar. He was a local radio personality whom I’d followed on Twitter and Facebook, but had never met in person. At first, I was shy. He was setting up when I was still by myself. I even tweeted “Jeremy Baker is setting up in front of me. Too shy to say hi.” But, then, I remembered, this was the night of breaking routines, and so I said “Are you Jeremy Baker?” Turns out he recognized me from Twitter and we spent the next three hours chatting away while he keyed up tunes.
I was just thinking that night could not get any more fun when Jeremy, looking behind me, said “Well, if it isn’t Rosie Bitts!”
I turned to look and there was this blonde woman wearing a red leather corset and a 40s pillbox hat with a veil.
“Heya honey,” she said to Jeremy. “I just finished a show, was walking by, saw you and thought I’d come in.”
Then she sat down right beside me. My friend seemed to know who this Rosie Bitts was, but I had no clue. So, surreptitiously, I whipped out my iPhone and, while pretending to check the latest sports scores, I Googled her. Rosie Bitts. Burlesque dancer.
Whoa. OK. Routines officially blown away.
Rosie Bitts was, quite frankly, one of the most entertaining people I have ever met. Funny, sarcastic, and hilarious, she called me sweetie and I was thrilled. She ordered Shirley Temples, saying she never drinks. She was the queen of one-liners, like an actress from the 40s.
And meeting her pretty much capped off my night of breaking routines.
Since then, I haven’t quite matched that Saturday night in terms of getting out of my comfort zone, but I’m in search of my next Rosie Bitts moment. Not sure it will compare, though, to the original.
Previously published at www.kevwrites.com on May 31, 2010.