About a week ago we got together with friends that we had not hung out with before. The coordinator of the evening, Scott, was a single guy I knew from working with and we had met up for drinks before so I knew his style was single, surfer on the prowl in dive bars which can be a fun dip in a different pool for us every once in a while. One of the other guys, Bill, we had also worked with and he is also around our age, married although I had not met his wife, LaDawn. Bill has an amazing, dry sense of humor that just kills me and is the spitting image of Bob Newhart. I had no idea what their style of hanging out would be.
We met up for sushi at Sakura Bana on Coast Highway in Encinitas. They have a nice happy hour with food and drink specials which suited our budgets. We were lucky enough to get a table in the bar. The place was packed so it must be very popular. For a table of 5 I think we made enough noise for about 30 high school students. Ends up the group of us together hit it off really well and just had so much to talk about and laugh about. Oh my gosh, to laugh about. Bill was at the top of his game comedically and his wife LaDawn is just one big ball of energy with no filter, wonderful outrageous thoughts and a brilliant mind. It makes for quite the conversation! I think by the time the first round of drinks arrived they were thinking they would like us to leave. Too bad, we were just getting started.
Our waitress was quite wonderful about keeping us well stocked with drinks, always checking to make sure no one went dry. Probably not too smart if they wanted us to quiet down any. The food service fell apart somewhat. Dan and I ordered on a separate check. The food from the first check came and our friends dug in because we all thought she just couldn’t carry it all at once. It was easily 10 minutes later when ours came. We ordered it at the same time. At the same table. Apparently the chefs didn’t keep the tickets together so either she didn’t tell them when she submitted it or they messed it up. It was pretty awkward at the table for a while, I wasn’t drinking that night and then I wasn’t eating either! Part of our order was miso soup. Can’t they bring that? Ah well. Maybe punishment for having so much loud fun! When my sashimi salad did come it was ok. Not the best fish, I had to disguise it with the soy/wasabi combination instead of just lemon or naked, but it was passable and the combination with greens and mango was very nice. Everyone said their rolls were good so, for the happy hour it sounds like a good deal, recommended.
Dan is not the swiftest of eaters. This is good. It is not healthy to eat quickly. But when Dan is socially engaged, talking, laughing, telling stories, he forgets he has food in front of him and unfortunately uses his utensils to wave around as he tells his story. I cannot break him of that habit and I am not sure why it bothers me so much, but it seems very distasteful to me. Put the chopstick down! Really, it’s such a little thing DIanne, let it go, give the guy a break. Where was I? Oh! Our food is here, our friends are done eating, I’m done eating, Dan is talking and not eating and it is getting time to go. He really hates it when I suggest something to him when we are with people. Even if the other people don’t know I suggested something. But I have to tell him he has to eat up because we do have to go. So I do get that point across and poor Dan has to share his rolls with the table to get it gone and get moving. I’m pretty sure he wasn’t too impressed with the food anyway and was filling up on beer, but still. Clearly we are not done socializing so we spill out onto the sidewalk in front of the restaurant. It’s a charming little section of Coast Highway in Encinitas called the Lumberyard. Lots of shops, restaurants, bars, yoga studios, coffee shops etc. There are a lot of people out and about and we decide to walk down to a place called 1st Street Bar.
1st Street is also on Coast Highway. It is rather the institution in Encinitas. The building has been a bar since the 1800’s and at one point Charlie Chaplin’s brother owned it. It is definitely in keeping with our “on a budget” evening, I believe the cost of a pitcher was under $10 for some pretty darn good beers until 10PM, which was amazing! It is a bar. No food. At all. After 10, no chairs, barstools, benches or perches. I didn’t try to use the restroom so I am not even sure if you could sit down in there! The place has character. And characters!
About that chair thing. About 10:00 a burly security guy starts coming around collecting the chairs at the bar, one of which I was occupying. It was loud in there so I didn’t understand at first what he was trying to do. I am definitely a “bit” over the average age of the occupants of the place at this time and my hearing aid wasn’t working too well with all the noise in there. Once he made it clear he had to remove all the chairs because the dancing was going to start I said “But, I’m OLD!” and this nervy guy says “I know”. WTF?? I laughed so hard, I told him that’s not what you’re supposed to say! He blushed and blustered and said what he meant was that he is old and he knows how he would want to keep the chair but that he can’t let me. It was awesome! He just couldn’t get away from me fast enough. Then he gets down the row to Dan who saw all this happen and Dan says, “Take mine last” and the poor guy says “ok” and goes to move right along. Dan had to stop him and tell him he was just busting on him. Poor guy, he must hate the elderly groups that come in on Saturdays!
We were having a good time. Scott was telling us old, married folks some hilarious and barely believable tales of being single. He was showing us some of his best moves with some of the ladies, they weren’t working too well for him that night, but to be fair, he wasn’t trying too hard as most of the ladies were young enough to be his daughter. Fun! The half price pitchers were going down easily and the people watching was awesome! The crowd was definitely shifting over to the younger set as it does around this time of evening in most places around here. Usually people like us are home watching our DVR by now or turning the lights out, but this was our BIG NIGHT OUT.
I think the guy who took our picture had imbibed even more than Scott had by this time, that’s one fuzzy photo!
So, here we were, hanging with the hipsters. Now, Encinitas is an affluent area with an eclectic mix of people. The houses are expensive but there are many renters and you get a lot of surfers and students packed into one house near the beach. You also get a lot of youngsters coming into Encinitas to party because it has become kind of a destination place for that sort of thing. Residents are starting to say it is getting out of control, so it will be interesting to see where it goes from here. So, you have some regular locals. They are the ones of indeterminate age who look like they may be homeless but are probably authors or neuroscientists or something and live in the large houses with the views. I’m only half joking. They wander in and out, seem to have a permanent spot at the bar that no one encroaches upon and they will probably head out soon after 10. You have the actual homeless. They are mostly outside but wander in and out around the entrance when security is occupied elsewhere. They are looking for a beer or a cigarette, usually from one of the regulars. You have tourists. Unfortunately they are very easy to spot. They are usually sunburned, shivering and looking very uncomfortable because this looks like a rough crowd if you aren’t looking closely. They are shivering because no one told them that it is cool in the evenings here and when you are sunburned it is downright freezing! Be nice to them, they’re on the trip of a lifetime, have found a great place to hang out they just haven’t figured it out yet and you might end up in their town with that look on your face some day. You will also see groups of people meeting up here, they have pool and ping pong so that’s always fun. But yes, it starts to change around 10.
This particular Saturday night they had a DJ start up and the dancing got started and suddenly it was a young crowd. Now I had switched from water to vodka about 9 PM so all 5 of us didn’t really care that we were about 25 years older than those on the dance floor 6 feet away from us. Dan and I at least were fascinated with the whole thing. We had never stuck around to watch this kind of thing when people really did dance. There was a beautiful girl with more energy than Tigger the Tiger (there’s a sexy reference for you) on the dance floor and she was obviously a real dancer. She moved beautifully and was encouraging people to get out there and dance. The men were helpless against her smile, and whatnot. Women too, she had charisma for days! Slowly she built a crowd up and then got the right song going from the DJ and it was on! She actually got one of those dance things going where everyone is in a circle and someone goes and dances in the center with everyone dancing and cheering them on and then switching. It was awesome! OK, I am such a geek, I will own that, but I had never seen it happen organically and it was cool. Which I, obviously, am so not.
Oops, maybe it is not so obvious. Or it was “mess with the old geek” night at 1st Street because it was time to get the old gals out on the floor. Now, I blame LaDawn. She looks approximately 20 years younger than her chronological age and she has the attitude to back it up! So she gets sucked into the outer circle. Being LaDawn she has a very tight grip and manages to pull me in too. OK, outer circle, I can do this. So we are shaking our old butts and moving our feet and having a general good laugh at ourselves, getting some nice and not too condescending pointers from some of the other gals on the floor. One was very helpful, use every other beat! Probably saved me a trip to the cardiac unit that night. LaDawn was actually killing it and I thought she might even get Bill out there but he wisely got very interested in something Dan was determined to talk to him about. So we did it. We strutted our stuff. We had a blast and no one got hurt. Success, and time to go! Dan decided at this point it might be a good idea to leave before we got any more adventuresome and honestly, it was probably the perfect moment. Let the young’uns have some fun, we got to see some really cool dancing, have our fun and it really was getting too late to watch anything on the DVR at this point! Scott had already bailed, probably rode his bike around looking for his dream girl on the streets of Encinitas. Hey, weirder things have happened!
To end the evening off just right I look up and see these odd lights in the sky really high up. Everyone is chatting and I try to point it out, but it changes and looks kind of like a plane so I say never mind. Then about a block later I look up and it is nothing like a plane, hasn’t changed position and is really freaking me out so I get everyone to look. No one can figure it out. LaDawn is not going to let that stand! She trots over to a Sheriff’s car at a stop sign, gets him to roll down the window, points up in the sky like a kid coming out of a frat party and asks him if he knows what that is up there. It ends up some guy that lives up there has a helium kite with a LED light show that he sends up there really high and the Sheriffs department gets calls all night about it. Drives them crazy. I can see why they get the calls. That thing is downright creepy! Why the heck would someone do that? Fun once maybe, but routinely? Maybe like this night…fun once a quarter maybe, but more than that, I don’t think I could handle it. Thanks you guys, it was great! Didn’t take Dan long to play King of the Bed! Cute, right?