Thursday, May 26, 2016

Up on the Roof

Okay, so I dipped my toe back into the birthday pond.

But in my own defense, it was way back on April 28 that the three of us had made these plans: celebrate my birthday by checking out Quirk's new rooftop bar.

We couldn't have known then that it would rain for the next four weeks and once the sun reappeared, there'd be a mass rush to the roof, resulting in a line to get in.

Waiting did give us the opportunity to catch up, which had been the original starting point for this evening anyway, while also doing a preliminary check of the people in line.

Is it wrong of me to say that the crowd looked like they were there for the selfies? How about they looked like they didn't live in the city and couldn't parallel park?

So, yes, there was some judging going on, but my friends hadn't even been to the inside bar much less the long-delayed rooftop dazzler, so we were committed to the experience.

Upstairs, we somehow scored three bar stools at the pastel-striped bar, mostly under the canopy, in record time.

Now, getting a drink was a different story. That took every bit of 20 minutes (water took closer to 30) and that's probably being kind. When a woman behind me finally got the bartender's attention, she ordered a double rather than risk another marathon wait.

Just so you know, she was ordering a vodka and Red Bull. 'Nuff said.

I was just glad our stool backs protected us from the encroaching newcomers desperate to get a cocktail (we marveled at the sheer size of the bottle of bitters) or glass of Rose (bottles of which Quirk must empty in record time) now that they'd made it to the promised land.

While I could talk about the crowd (dubbed "douchey" more than once, but noticeably more diverse than many bars) and overheard inanities (tardy orthodontist visits for the kid and essential chiropractor appointments for Mom), it was really the view that made it worthwhile to have made it up there.

Someone had told me that the building was one of the tallest in the area, a fact which was apparent as we moved around the crowded spaces to ogle landmarks and the neighborhood's fairly dense tree cover. The minarets of the Altria (nee Mosque), the Belgian Building at VUU and Ebenezer Baptist Church were all readily apparent but my house was completely invisible beneath the intense green canopy of trees.

Broad Street never looked so good, unfurling between stretches of treetops like a soft black ribbon, looking unhurried, almost empty and extending as far as the eye could see.

It was strange to look down on the Emrick Flats' roof patio (because I'd been on it) but also a kick to be almost eye level with the towers of the nearby Renaissance Building. And the timing of seeing a brilliant red sunset sinking into a building we couldn't identify made it feel like we'd intentionally come for the sky show.

The three of us continued to marvel at not knowing a single person (in the words of Butch Cassidy, "Who are those guys?") while checking out the herb gardens planted in metal washtubs, the lower, less-crowded deck and the non-stop hustle of the enormous staff in flowered shirts.

Given Quirk's proximity to my house, I'll look forward to the day that it's not the top new destination in the city and the "in" crowd moves on to the latest and greatest while I continue to admire the 'hood from above.

But eventually the girls and I need sustenance, resulting in a visit to a surprisingly hopping 821 Cafe where I walk in, a server hugs me and guesses that I'm there for black bean nachos. There are benefits to being a creature of habit, I suppose.

She directs us to the bar for fastest seating ("And you can look at how cute Garth is!") and once we've ordered (two usuals, one surprise), we begin the nit-picking process of choosing which roof photos taken by the youngest in our trio are acceptable to all.

Translation:  which have posting potential.

Laugh if you want, but I know this process well. With five sisters, we know to take a minimum of three dozen photos of the six of us to have any hope of producing one that flatters us all.

Far easier tonight when we only need to placate three women's egos and two of them are under 40.

For the record, there were at least half a dozen that captured us splendidly and plenty more that I'd have been fine with, but I also know that one advantage of age is acceptance.

That was apparent when we touched on the subject of plastic surgery (Blythe Danner's excellent face work launched the conversation), with both of them saying that when the time comes, they won't hesitate to have it done if they can afford it.

That's one palliative I haven't been able to get on board with, but really, how surprising is that given my other eccentricities?

If I'm going to earn each of these birthdays with daily experiences and marathon celebrations, I should have the happy face to prove it, right?

"At least you're still hot," my friend opines when I crack wise about my age.

Girlfriends, the best sort of free therapy.

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