The Bar Chronicles: #4, Love Unrequited (How I Met My Wife)

Bar Night 2

‘Tale as old as time…’ 

(Beauty & The Beast)

‘On Friday nights, the boys sat on a bridge over our river, waiting for the girls to come across, hoping to catch the eye of the one we thought was special.  And, I did.’

More than 60 years ago that was a perfect scheme for the young men of a small coal mining town in eastern Pennsylvania. My friend told the story with a twinkle in his eye and a smile, as though it was yesterday.

Here we were, again, three ‘seniors’, in a bar, reminiscing how we met our future wives. It was a moment of sincere reflection as we opened our hearts and shared memories that were a long time put aside.…but not forgotten.

These weren’t ordinary stories and this wasn’t an ordinary ‘bar’, this was the Lock 32 Brewing Company on the historic Erie Canal at the Port of Pittsford, NY. The canal and its towns come to life when the ‘ditch’ regains its waters after the long western NY winter. Working barges, canoes, rowers and yachts commingle east and west from Albany to Buffalo, meandering 400 miles through the Empire State. And, tonight, we witnessed some of it from inside this perfect venue in the tiny Pittsford village.

We found a table facing the canal, where the back wall is a floor to ceiling window that slides open onto the canal’s northside boardwalk, allowing us an unfettered vista of the late evening light settling on the local village. The lovers in front were scooted low enough in their seats that our view was uninterrupted.

 ‘I was a late bloomer in the dating game so I advertised in the newspaper for someone who was sophisticated, fun-loving and liked to dance. She answered.’

A quarter century later my friend and his wife are still dancing. The power of the marketplace.

Cabin cruisers docked on the south side, its occupants enjoying evening cocktails on the aft deck. Ducks collected near us, waiting for handouts, and couples sat on benches, leaning head to head, watching the setting sun lay its fingers across the silent waters, except when an occasional catfish surfaced to snatch an unsuspecting bug.

My eyes locked onto the boats and for a fleeting moment my imagination carried me out to sea, far away from the murky canal waters. Oh, to be an adventurer!

But, fantasies aside, we came here for a purpose, beer and brotherhood. The former started with the house ‘summer’ and ‘scotch’ ales, and the latter with an informal clinking of our glasses and a ‘here, here’, three neighbors relaxing and reminiscing over a beer.

‘I’d like to see number 7, again.’

Being a class officer on campus had its perks, judging cheerleader tryout was a major one. It allowed me to see a freshman girl whom I found attractive. She didn’t need my vote to make the squad and nearly 50 years later, we’re still ‘cheering’ for each other.

A quiet mood settled onto the pub as the evening waned. We emptied our mugs with a toast to marriages and longevity, then went into the night. The boats were dark, the boardwalk was empty, the fish were still active.

We headed home, content, knowing all is well…

 Steve Bottcher

srbottch.com

Sometimes It’s Diamonds, Sometimes It’s Paint…

Paint 1

Honestly, it’s never diamonds. Perfume, maybe, but not diamonds. Oh, there was a diamond engagement years ago and another one at our 25th, but that ‘streak’ ended there, 22 years ago. Nowadays, prudence, practicality and pocketbook influence my choices..

So, this Valentine’s Day I gave a gift that satisfied all three criteria, the gift of color. I painted a bathroom for my wife, and, not surprisingly, it was one of the best gifts I’ve given over the years. She raved about it and appreciated my work and the new look. As pleasant as that sounds, it’s an unflattering commentary on my gift giving skills. I’m terrible at it.

However, I’m a good painter, it’s in the genes. My immigrant grandfather established himself as a ‘master’ painter. He begot three boys who continued the trade. The line of succession produced more sons, yet, who donned the white overalls, joined the union and called themselves ‘journeymen’.

You see, while ‘diamonds are forever’ (who wears out a diamond?), paint jobs are actually meant to be replaced. Colors fade or fall out of fashion. The painter gets the opportunity to ‘regive’ the paint job, a ‘do over’, if you will.

Paint 2

“Hey, honey, I repainted the bathroom. How’s it look?  And, Happy Mother’s Day!”

“Looks great, dinner is ready”, she shouts from afar. “You slug…”, is the unspoken word you don’t hear because she has resigned herself to the age-old mantra, ‘it’s the thought that counts’. But we all know this about marriage, ‘what you do or don’t do now will be used against you later’. As I was reminded recently, disagreements, arguments and shortcomings are all part of the bonding process in marriage, no matter how long the union, 47 years in our case.

But, I digress. There are more gift giving opportunities on the horizon. The bedroom sounds appropriate for our wedding anniversary. And the hallways for her birthday. Oh, I just know she’ll love it. Everyday will seem like a birthday as she walks through the house, admiring the colors, reminding her of just how old she is. Hmm, I should rethink that one. Then there’s Christmas, maybe a brightening up of the guest room would be a hit.

Yes, diamonds are pretty; pretty impressive and pretty expensive. So, gentlemen, heed my advice. When the time comes, give the gift that is bold and beautiful, that tells her how much you love her. Give the ‘gift that keeps on giving’ and is cheap, the gift of color…PAINT SOMETHING!

Paint 3

srbottch