Yesterday was supposed to be a celebratory day. It was my friend’s birthday, and we had lunch together at a great new local restaurant. Later that evening, my husband and I had been invited to the home of more friends—some we don’t see often enough—for a dinner party, and I was making a peach crisp to take for dessert.
On the way home from the market, someone ran through a red light and hit my car as I was turning at a green light. She insisted that she had not run the light, that her light was green, though it wasn’t. I had the right of way, it was my car that was hit and no longer drivable, and I was the one banged up—mercifully escaping serious injury. In the end, no one came forward as a witness, and no one got a ticket when the police finally showed up nearly 2 hours after I’d called 911, and after we’d been out in the hot sun and traffic for so long. Since both of us said we weren’t in the wrong, the officer left it to the insurance companies to investigate, and most likely each of us will end up paying for ourselves, with a premium increase, naturally. We didn’t make it to the dinner party. I was sunburned and shaken, with a bruised and throbbing knee from being tossed against the door, and had my hands full dealing with the aftermath of insurance adjusters and body shops, plus deciding if I really needed to be checked out by a doctor.
Such is the nature of the world we live in today, I’m afraid, and particularly in a big metropolitan area. Some days it seems like everyone is in it for themselves.
8:15 p.m. rolled around while I was still filling out papers and on the phone trying to get my car situation dealt with, and I had no food prepped for dinner, nor was I in the mood to cook anyway. My husband thought we should go out and get a bite so that I could take my mind off my troubles for an hour. I was seriously depressed, tired and cranky, wanting to wallow in my frustration and anger, nurse my knee and not have to interact with anyone, but finally said okay. We decided to go to Leon’s Full Service, a local place I’ve mentioned before, because we know the nice folks there and it’s in our comfort zone.
We squeezed into a couple of stools at the bar…Leon’s is very crowded on Friday nights…and it was our good fortune that we sat in front of Miles MacQuarrie, Leon’s bartender extraordinaire, but more importantly, an all around good guy. After sharing my tale of woe, Miles wanted to make me a cocktail—not one to drown my sorrows in like I’d asked for half-jokingly, but one that was “celebratory.” Yes, this is the word he used—saying we were “celebrating” because I was there to tell my tale, and I was okay…and he was right.
We toasted to my/our health, chatted with Miles about old cocktails and new ones, antique cocktail shakers, food, his new marriage and house, and life in general. He was so busy, but never missed a beat, serving a packed house, making cocktail after cocktail and entertaining his customers. We ordered some of their good food, felt cheered and uplifted, ready to deal with the car, the insurance, the whatever.
As we walked away from Leon’s and headed home, this thought hit me pretty hard. When I talk about liking a great bar or restaurant, it’s most often geared towards assessing their food and drink. But lest we forget, what makes a restaurant or pub a true favorite is as much about the nature of the people that work there as it is about the good food or drink they serve. Leon’s Full Service is one of those places that has both. No pictures are needed to convey this simple fact. Sometimes, when you’re lucky enough to have the opportunity to be comforted by, and to feel, the genuine camaraderie and sympathy of your local people in your local places, the words—their words—mean everything.
Thanks, Miles, and cheers.