Add Event My Events Log In

Upcoming Events

    Eat & Swig

    Print this page

    It's 7 p.m. on a Thursday and I'm meeting a few friends - three girls that I worked with at my old job. We've started to make a point of meeting up to drink and talk and whine about our lives, seeking advice on careers, men, how to be happy, how to be functional adults.

    I am painfully aware of the stereotype that we have become, but you know what? This is real life. We commiserate and congratulate in the ways that have become characteristic of female friendships. Brunching and clear liquor are real things that real women like, and that’s okay. For the night, Garage Bar has become our home - welcoming us with open bottles and the light of the neon sign.

    When we arrive, the place is just gearing up for the night - it's not too crowded and it doesn’t take long for the bartender, an acquaintance, to get to me. Bulleit Rye and water - my drink for when I want to enjoy the taste, not just the ABV. I will almost certainly switch over to well bourbon and diet soda before the night is over. As we order, an official-looking camera crew films us, with little explanation. It’s for a conference, they tell us. No, they can’t say more than that. They get cursory glances while the bar’s patrons return to their craft cocktails and business-casual flirting. Just another day at Garage.

    Perched on an astroturf bench, we watch people try and fail to be good at ping pong, and we catch up on the details of one friend's recent breakup. I suddenly see another one of our former co-workers -because of course we run into someone we know. He’s there with his dad, briefly crashing our girl’s night out. He and his dad’s friends take over a picnic table a few feet from us. Garage defies demographics: young or old, the bar belongs to everyone.

    By eight o’clock, I have switched to drinking old fashioneds - somewhere between I care about how this tastes and I’m just drinking to get drunk. The ping pong tables are a bright glow, highlighting the sheen of sweat on the faces of men and women who might be trying a little too hard. We’re showing our Tinder matches to each other, grimacing over tales of painfully bad opening lines. We’re reminding each other of past mistakes, Remember that guy…? We’re laughing a little too loudly. I ask a girl to take a photo of us, because group selfies are too hard. She does a great job and I tell her how much I appreciate her. I am three drinks in and the bar crowd has grown. A Thirsty Pedaler pulls up to the front, eliciting a collective groan from the hip townies.

    A couple of guys from out of town try to talk to us. They’re older - probably in their mid- to late- thirties - and cocky as hell. They’re from Cleveland, or Cincinnati, or Columbus. Who cares? Every year they pick a new city to come to, this year it’s Louisville. We’re doing the bourbon tour tomorrow, one of them tells us.

    It’s fun, we tell him, giving him suggestions on other things they might like to do in town. He’s not interested, acting like Louisville is beneath whatever Midwestern mecca he’s flown in from. He is not impressed; we are not impressed. The conversation fades and we turn away, knowing that the crowd is full of friendlier, more stimulating conversation.     

    It’s almost nine o’clock and I get my last drink of the night. You know my friend with the short hair? I ask the same bartender, now a friend. We need her to slow down.

    Don’t worry, he tells me, she just closed her tab.

    She is not the only one who needs to slow down.

    I close my tab around 9:30, a familiar feeling in my head telling me that another drink will only lead to Friday morning regrets. Hey, the bartender says to a woman seated on a barstool, This is the girl who did that video.  We make introductions and I think, Of course I am networking while drunk. I apologize and I know she understands - she’s drinking, too. We exchange cards.

    My third friend has disappeared. She’s tucked away and waiting in the car, having already made a stumbling trip to the restroom. A waiter brought me water, she tells us. Later, mortified, she thinks she remembers knocking over a rack of pizza trays. I can never go back there, she tells us.

    It’s 9:45 and we’re saying goodnight to Garage Bar. Is this what it’s like to be out of college? Is my future a series of nights that end before prime time is over?

    The swell of people has thinned out, leaving behind the out-of-towners who either have nowhere to be in the morning, or are currently schmoozing with business associates. Their Friday mornings will undoubtedly include a cup of coffee from neighboring Please & Thank You, their view of Louisville limited to the most gentrified neighborhood they can find.

    I wake up to Friday morning regrets.


    Photo: 502Prime 

    Michelle Eigenheer's picture

    About Michelle Eigenheer

    A Louisville transplant beginning to appreciate all the city's small things.

    More from author:      

    Share On: