Sunday, July 28, 2013

Meeting Up

During one of my final days of living in Tennessee I was talking to a coworker (yes, whining) about how lonely I had been for much of my time in Clarksville, and especially the final year. There were hundreds of acquaintances I would see as I ambled alone through the monthly Art Walk, but when it came down to it, there were very few people whose phone numbers resided in my cell phone and upon whom I could call to meet out for lunch. And of the few, most were married with kids, so it felt like I had nobody available to entertain me. I even attended two concerts alone due to a lack of companions and I didn’t die of humiliation, which is good to know.

My coworker said a lot of single people he knew used the online Meetup site to find groups and activities. Well, crap -- if I’d known about that earlier, my last year in hell might have been more tolerable!

As part of my return to New England, I began pre-scouting for jobs and a social life. I looked into Meetup, checked off a bunch of preferences and quickly found a book club. Once you join a group, the system suggests other groups in your geography based on the interests chosen, so it wasn’t too long before I found a second book club.

During one week in April I had two book club meetings, which involved plowing through two novels. The first group’s meeting had great promise -- it was on a Wednesday night in an Irish Pub Restaurant and the author was going to attend. I had my first Scotch Egg, a dark beer, and the good fortune of sitting next to the author so I could actually hear the discussion over the din of the nearby diners, but the later arrivals at the far ends of the table were not as lucky. This book club was mostly couples and mostly in their 60s or older so I felt like a conspicuous misfit singleton (a common scenario for me). On the bright side, I was one of the younger people assembled at the table.

The following night was the other book club, which meets at a coffee house that has the good sense to also serve wine and craft beers along with the menu of light meals, pastries and gelato. This group is all women,  younger than the other group, and infinitely more fun. I still don’t feel like I fit in, but at least I'm reading current books and it’s a shorter drive for me to be a misfit.

Around early June, a new local Meetup group formed -- people aged 40-60 seeking to get out of the house and meet up at various places and events. It sounded promising to me -- while not a singles group, it might be a way to meet new people including some single guys.

The group scheduled its first meet up at a bar/restaurant on a Friday evening with the instructions to meet “at the chalkboard.” I managed to convince a gal pal to come with me to scope it out. We arrived early and parked ourselves at the corner of the bar to scope out the group and decide if we would actually join them, because we were nervous about meeting a large group of new people. Heck, I sometimes get nervous with people I already know. As we sat at the corner of the bar, eyeballing everyone who entered the restaurant, we finally noticed a guy sitting under the massive chalkboard. Then a woman arrived. And another woman. And more women. The assembled group of about a dozen was finally seated at a cluster of tall tables in a corner of the bar. It looked like one guy with a harem.

We decided we didn’t really want to be part of the estrogen festival and headed to a Chinese restaurant for a pu-pu platter, chalking up a loss on the meet up thing. At least we were out of our respective dwellings for a little while, escaping an oppressive heat wave and enjoying some air conditioning.

As the summer progressed, the Meetup group posted several more events at free festivals and local fairs (which I did not attend). One planned meet up that caught my eye was for a tour of the local craft brewery. This was right up my alley -- beer! -- plus the potential to meet a man who appreciates good beer instead of the crappy yellow fizzy water bottled by too many large breweries.

I tried to wrangle a gal pal into coming to the brewery with me, but one was in Michigan, and another was in Vermont. So, on the appointed day, I managed to not wimp out, screwed up my courage and headed to the meet up. Alone. The RSVP list, which had peaked at about five people a week earlier, had dwindled to three by the day of the event -- me, another woman, and a guy.

At the brewery, I headed to the “Tour Waiting Area” where I was the only female. Instead of being thrilled at the prospect, I was too self-conscious to speak. I visited the sample window for a tiny beer glass and a taste of Strawberry White beer from the woman who would soon be our tour guide. Luckily, two more women arrived (with their significant man people) and finally, a tall guy entered and asked me if I was with the meet up. Hmmm.... I wonder if it was my obvious aloneness in the room that gave me away. At least I had now someone to chat with. And he didn’t look nearly as much like an axe murderer as his little photo on Meetup. I noticed he did not get a free beer sample. Nobody who looked like the third Meetup RSVP arrived.

The tour began and we passed around jars of various types of barley, looked at photos from 1994 when the brewery operated out of a barn, and then moved over to the door to see more historic photos. Before heading to the bottling area, the guide instructed us to take a pair of safety goggles. As she was discussing the various sizes (child/small, medium, large),  she pointed to me and said, all chipper and nonchalant, “You can probably use the child size.” Thanks for the shout out lady. I appreciate you calling attention to my tiny pinhead.

We moved into the production area, where there was another tasting sample. I tried the Nut Brown, even though I already knew I liked it. And that’s when my Meetup buddy casually mentioned that he doesn’t drink. So much for my fantasy of comparing notes over the various beers and how this brewer’s product compares to that of other breweries. Seriously? Leave it to me to meet the one guy on a brewery tour who doesn’t even drink beer.

1 comment:

  1. What a strange Meet-up for such a guy to even attend! DUH! Was he coming to meet folks to then convince them not to drink? To test himself? WEIRD!!!

    Meanwhile, I so wish I'd done lunch with you (or some other thing) when you were here that last year (or any other). (Not single but no children.) Funny (not so) how we always think the other guy's the one with more charm and busy-ness, prospects etc. You're too damned talented and exotic for your own good, Tammy (that's supposed to be a compliment of the highest order, although it may not do much to console).

    If you do even revisit this area please count on me to do just about anything you want, lunch or dinner for sure. Stuart's also your big fan.