Gin Romeo


3 pm is an excellent time for drinking. That's what I've learned. I'm so glad that seems to be a constant.

By the top of the second week, I'm pretty confident I've got the timing down. I start getting ready at 1 pm. I'm dressed and ready to leave by 1:45. I'm at the Walgreens by 2. It takes me 30 minutes to hit every aisle. By 2:40, I'm home again. By 2:50, I've unloaded my re-usable shopping bag. By 3 pm, I'm walking into the empty bar.

This schedule works out perfectly. Because at 2pm, the local school kids haven't been let out yet. The streets are empty, with the exception of a few house-dads pushing strollered kids to the behind-the-school park. The good park. The one that still has all three swing-sets. One for babies, one for toddlers, and the one for bigger kids.

The Walgreens is vacant and calm. Staff don't switch out until 3 pm, so the old sir still works the register when it's time to check out, and he's a stoic, grumpy guy who doesn't make small chat.

At 3 pm, the bar has just opened and I'm the only customer for at least an hour before the early happy-hour crowd starts drizzling in. The staff is subdued and distracted - not yet finding the day's rhythm or running on the momentum of a big crowd. Aside from taking my order and dropping off the drink, they practically ignore me.

I'm so grateful.

If this place opened earlier, like around noon, I'd be pushing through the lunch crowd. Business persons taking potential clients out for a drink. Work-at-homers stretching their legs for an hour or two. I've seen it, looking out my window at the other bar directly across the street.

I like to think this is not a product of good fortune, but of good planning.