Maybe I don’t get out enough. I got out tonight and it was enough.
I went to Biagetti’s in West Haven for drinks with my friends from school. When I arrived with one of the girls, two others had already beat us there. They’d left two open barstools for us. Being the kindhearted person that I am, I let C. take the stool closest to our friends, and I took the stool next to . . . um . . . let’s just call him Paulie Walnuts. He looked to be about mid-60ish and was sitting alone at the end of the bar near the wall, so I presented his only opportunity for conversation. We exchanged a few words when I first sat down, mainly me checking with him to be sure the seat wasn’t taken.
When the manager set out some amazing happy hour food right in front of us, we talked about the good looking tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, and basil, with him encouraging me to “Eat, eat. It’s no good when it’s not really cold.” After talking to him for a few minutes, I had to keep looking around to assure myself that I was at a nice, normal restaurant bar, and not a New Jersey strip joint. I kept turning to the left toward my friends to join their conversation, but I felt like I was being rude to Paulie. And it didn’t seem like a good idea to be rude to Paulie.
Paulie (not his real name) (I should say that I don’t know his name) started to tell me how great a place Biagetti’s is. “The food is great. That kid can cook. You gotta get Clams DeMaio. There was this guy, DeMaio, who came in one time and didn’t know what to eat. The chef took some clams, took out the clams, put in a shrimp and a scallop, put the clam back in, and put bread crumbs on top. Then he baked ‘em. Man, they’re so good. They’re not on the menu, but people in the know can order them. Clams DeMaio.”
“So I can order Clams DeMaio if I come in for dinner?” I asked him.
“Sure you could. Sure you could. I mean if it’s busy, they ain’t gonna make ‘em for you, but if it’s not busy, sure they’ll make ‘em for you.”
Our conversation went on. During this time, a few more of the girls came in and had pulled up new bar stools behind the others. They were all yucking it up over my new friendship with Paulie. I spotted one of them holding up her cell phone to try to get a picture of us, but I leaned back just in time and I found out later that she was only able to snap a shot of C.’s boob.
Paulie continued singing the praises of Biagetti’s. “You can’t get a bad meal in here. The people are real nice. It’s a good place. People watch their mouths. Somebody comes in and causes trouble, they get ‘em right out.”
“That’s good to know,” I told him.
“Yeah, somebody comes in and causes big trouble, I just call my nephew. He’s a lieutenant in the . . . . “
You know I fully expected him to say MOB. Then I took a breath and thought, no, he’ll say West Haven Police Force or State Police. It’s okay.
“ . . . . Hell’s Angels.”
That, of course, led Paulie to start talking motorcycles. He said the weather turned out to be really beautiful today and too bad he was told it was gonna rain because he didn’t ride his motorcycle. It was then that I really got a good look at what he was wearing – a black long-sleeve button down shirt with a black leather vest over it.
“You ride?” he asked me.
“No, I don’t,” I answered.
“You should ride. There’s nothin’ better,” he told me.
I shared my concerns about the fact that there’s nothing between the rider and the road and that lots of car drivers don’t treat motorcycles as true moving vehicles and pull out in front of them and cut them off. Too scary.
Paulie said, “Ya gotta be a real safe driver. Every day that I ride I get cut off at least 4 or 5 times. I want to pull out my 38 and shoot their tires out. That’s why I don’t carry when I ride.”
Gulp. (That was me.)
“You didn’t ride your motorcycle today, right? Does that mean you’re carrying?” I think I kind of whispered. (Holy SH*T! My idea of carrying is bringing my purse.)
Chuckle. (That was him.)
“Nah, I ain’t carrying.”
Luckily, a short while later, the bartender asked him if he wanted another drink. “Better not,” Paulie said. “I gotta get home or she’ll cut my balls off.”
Paulie Walnuts gathered his money off the bar, took the last slug from his drink (I shouldn’t have said slug) and told all of us how nice it was to meet us.
Right back at ya.
The girls fell apart into fits of giggles after he left and I had to tell them all they had missed. J., the school social worker, tried to put the positive spin on my experience: It gave me an opportunity to practice my meet and greet skills so I can get back out there and start dating.
I think I’ll just stay home and knit.