(This is one of several versions of this scene, but this is the least specific)
March 31, 2012 (best guess)
I hadn’t had beer in years.
So when the bartender asked what I wanted to drink, I picked German beer.
German beer in a German bar – makes sense, I guess.
I didn’t pick the place; she did, texting me at the office as she strolled down Washington Street for us to meet for the drink she’d wanted us to get weeks earlier.
And like a roulette wheel, where she stops nobody knows.
The place was the first place she found on her walk so she stopped.
She didn’t at look at all out of place there when I finally arrived; her willow-thin limbs straddling a bar stool as if she owned the place.
She must have known all of these places from her first stint in Hoboken back in 2002 just after her teaching gig and before she hit the big time as a singer.
During that night, she dished out bits and pieces of her life story as if feeding chickens, spreading it out over the course of a meal she only pecked at, a life of music and art that started at age three, taking off in a high school theater workshop and coffee house before she sang her heart out at the Apollo and later on cruise ships.
Unlike most talented birds, she didn’t crow about her accomplishments -- though she said she tried to make it in the music business, she couldn’t get it to take off.
Now after a stint or two in other careers, she turned to writing and she is stunningly good – though as with her music, she doesn’t boast about it, and should.
In the middle of all this, my cop friend turned Assemblyman strutted in with his entourage from Jersey City and she went mum – apparently uncomfortable around politicians in her off duty hour – a time she considers her own. She said she even hates to go to meetings or other gigs at night unless they’re the dress up kind and then she dresses to the nines.
This was one of those nights I knew I would remember forever, from the tall glass in which my beer came to the clear class of pale wine she put a napkin over when we went outside where she could smoke.
This was one of those nights when something clicked – the tumblers of the universe falling into place for good or ill, a night when it became clear to me that this was someone special, a life force passing meteor-like across my sky, burning in image on my recently restored retina – if not of perfecting then of a uniqueness I would not like see again.
Still shy of driving after dark on account of my still not quite right right eye, I had walked to work that morning and so she drove me up the hill so I didn’t have to walk up the viaduct in the dark.
And from JFK I made my way home, more than a little intrigued by this enigma.