The Story of Two Lavas
My friend Steve says the Lava Lounge in Chicago is a great place to spend your beer allowance. Mixed in with his stories of the ladies he meets there, he's dropped hints of great décor and hip dressed patrons.
When Steve was in town last weekend, I figured it was the perfect opportunity to check out the recently opened Lava, different slightly in name from Chicago's but same owner.
We started our evening with beers at Main City Bar and then walked down Main Street to Lava, located just south of the part with suburbanite draw. We had to swing by Bambino's pizza window on our way because some of us had the munchies. Walking down Main on a Saturday night is always fun, but especially on a chilly night like this was when you can poke fun at the scantily clad women running coatless from car to bar.
We should have known from the bare shoulders and boob tubes exiting Lava as we approached. Once we paid the cover and went in, it was clear this Lava wasn't like its Windy City sister. Perhaps now I know why Chicago's is the Lounge and ours is just Lava: It has more of a dance club atmosphere.
We ordered our mixed drinks and began to explore. The owner was nearby clearing empty glasses somewhat in cognito in jeans and a T-shirt, as in cognito as you can be with biceps as big as my waist.
The roomy dance floor was impressive if you're into that kind of thing, which we weren't this particular night. Although the DJ was as expected, the Chicago Lava has no dance floor. We moved through the crowd back to an area of hard black benches snaking around the edge of the club. They provided small pockets to sit back, look and listen.
The décor was not as impressive as expected. The theme: red and black. Reddish or clear shower-like curtains divided the open area into "rooms." They also provided the separation for the VIP area by the bar. Red lamps hung low around the seating area, and everyone standing up from the opposite end of our table hit their head on the one by us.
Even though it wasn't what we expected, we stayed 'til close, warm in the corner.
The Cincinnati entertainment market is, of course, different than Chicago's. And Steve promised to show me around his Lava next time I was up north.
Third try a charm?
It's a new year, and a fresh dusting of snow brings out the adventurer in me. I'll keep an open mind to invitations and suggestions and go out on a referral basis. The best way to meet people is through people you know and like, so the referrals of friends, family and associates land on my voice message service.
"Wendy, I've got a great guy for you to meet. How about you give me a call and we'll set up a date?" said my eternally cheerful friend Dina. It was mid-December, and I was feeling eternally cheerful as well.
When I touched base with Dina to get the lowdown, I had to remind myself that an open mind is a good thing even if the last 10 engineers I've met are a tad too anal for my wild ways. Maybe my persona needs balanced by the calculator on the belt type, right? She seemed awfully keen on this guy and gave me Thaddeus' number. He was expecting to hear from me.
Who names their child Thaddeus? No one I know. Surely he goes by Tad, wouldn't you think?
Well, it was the season of giving and I gave the occupation and the name a break and made the call. He answered with a British accent and we set up dinner for The Vineyard on Wednesday. Did I mention I'm a sucker for an accent?
I arrived first and ordered a glass of wine. The week was catching up with me, and I was seriously amazed I told Dina I would meet her friend and that I was actually waiting for him while my "To do" list was so long I ditched it in the trunk. The cabernet the waiter suggested was good and the lighting at the Vineyard was soothing.
When Thaddeus arrived, I was pleasantly surprised: He wasn't geeky at all, dressed in a sharp black turtleneck with a cashmere jacket that I admired. Hmmm, open minds are a good thing.
At the end of the dinner, the biggest question I asked myself besides "Do I want dessert?" was "Do I want to see him again?" Yes name, career and all.
We parted company and agreed that we'd talk when I returned from the beach and he from family after New Year's.
With fresh color on my cheeks and the optimism of a new year, I picked up the phone and arranged dinner for Encore Cafe. This time I walked in and he was sitting at the bar with a Dewar's and water looking like a city boy. He offered jazz, dancing or whatever my heart desired after the table was cleared, and I opted for the quiet end to an evening.
"Would you like to come back to my house instead?" I threw out tentatively.
It's always a risk to see each other's respective home turf on the second date, but the cold weather and the fatigue of traveling made me crave my leather couch instead of a bar stool and smokers. He seemed open to it and followed me to my home. I turned on Engima. We made drinks, and again he surprised me with a Rusty Nail concoction of Dewar's and Grand Marnier. This guy was intelligent, cultured, well-spoken and, though quiet, a conversationalist.
When midnight rolled around, I was answering my simple question and, yes, I would like to see him again. He said it was getting late and he should go.
"May I kiss you?" Thaddeus asked.
Seemed a fair request -- one sure to provide me with hopefully yet another pleasant impression -- so I said, "Sure."
The tongue. It almost made me want to say "Darn it!" out loud. I refrained, but why must the lips part so suddenly and the garlic from the ravioli be present at the closing moment of a delightful second date?
He wasn't particularly quick on my reading my reaction, but I willed myself to be patient. The second kiss was similar to the first.
What's a girl to do? I have often played by the rules of baseball and say, "Three strikes, you're out." I also believe first impressions are sometimes wrong and you should give a guy three chances to make the call. Nerves, atmosphere, past experiences, and stereotypes all can play out over the course of three dates.
So in Thaddeus's case, do I see him again, tongue and all? Is the third time the charm? Can the new year's optimism solve this one?