A forty-five minute wait at 4:30pm? Hmm, what does this tell me? 1. I have chosen a good eating establishment. 2. I have chosen to arrive too early or too late. 3. I have chosen to ignore the fact that I live in a tourist town. That’s it! Denial, in other words —or optimism, maybe; either one fits in this case. And either way, on this day it put me at the bar eating a plate of nachos prior to usher duty at Big Top. Not on the deck having dinner, not in a comfy booth; but at the bar — which is fine in fact — just not what I predicted nor looked forward to for an early dinner with a friend in Bayfield.
My first reaction as I opened the restaurant door was “Oh yeah, it’s summer.” and then “Doh!” as Homer Simpson would say. Summer in Bayfield is busy — I forgot. Summer in Bayfield is when, apparently, you must arrive at 3:45 p.m. if you want to eat dinner right away on a Friday evening. And who wants to do that — eat dinner at 3:45 p.m.? How can I choke down a fish fry at that hour? I mean, 4:30 is bad enough, isn’t it?
But hold on a minute. There is something to sitting at a bar, isn’t there? Spontaneity, camaraderie, unplanned socializing. There are plusses and minuses to this, of course. For example: An illustrious and well-versed colleague of mine plunked down on one side of me with his family — a plus. A loud, mildly belligerent duo plunked down on the other — a minus. It all adds up though, you see, to an interesting dinner hour. A strange sort of balance. Kind of like a big family dinner with a few in-laws you’d rather not sit with thrown in the mix.
Said colleague and I drew proverbial straws to see who would comment on this publicly and I got the short straw, or the long one — depends on how you look at it, huh? There are those plusses and minuses again. Almost every situation has those two elements at some point; so what do we do? Well, we roll with it. We enjoy the plusses, and ignore the minuses if possible (hard to do when the minuses are really loud).
We order another beer, we chat with the bartender, we help lost strangers find menus, we give advice to visitors, we give a little town gossip, and we get some, too.
Hey, it’s all good — in some way — remember that. A hard bar stool indoors is not a comfy booth or a spot on the deck in the sun. But we’re from here; we’re tough. We’re patient. We can wait. We’ll save those for wintertime, for springtime, or for after Applefest. After all, we’ll have time to spare then, won’t we? We’ll even park right out front, march right in, sit right down. But until then, let’s get there a little early, shall we? It’s OK. Let’s bring enough cash for an extra beer and enough cash for an extra tip, too. Those hearty souls holding down the fort behind the overcrowded bar don’t forget it’s summer, and those servers catering to the folks lining up for tables at 4 p.m. know it all too well. “Looks like a long night, folks.” Let’s smile at them an extra time, too. And let’s smile extra big at our good fortune as Bayfielders, as peninsula dwellers, and as locals, as well. No matter where we’re sitting.