There was bourbon in my hot chocolate, to begin with.
Julia got to IHOP before the rest of us did, and had secured us a table and ordered us drinks. “Hot chocolate!!” we said when we sat down. “Hot chocolate, plus a little something extra,” said Julia. That’s how she does Birthday.
It was my fourth birthday celebration since last week. It’s so much fun to over-celebrate a birthday when there’s no pressure attached, no milestone to achieve. It was all in good fun. It was a long birthday, given that dawg was up before dawn. Our conversation went something like this:
Me: Fletch. Our day does not start at 5:45 a.m. if Your Person has gotten home at 1 a.m the night before.
Fletch: I am not in receipt of that memorandum.
Me: I’ll take you out as many times as you like, but we are going to keep going back to bed until the sun comes up.
Fletch: No comprendo. It is time to bound out of bed, chew on some sticks in the yard, and attempt to drink the Christmas tree water when you are sleepy and distracted. Oh! And Happy Birthday.
So we got up early, played, drank coffee, and baked things, and stayed in our pajamas all morning. My brother’s family came over to meet the dawg and take me to Lilly’s, which is my favorite, and was birthday celebration number three, after Johnny Folsom 4 last week and Chatham County Line last night.
Having already fully celebrated, and been fully celebrated, I didn’t need much else; however, Veronica and Willow and Julia were all still in town and were game for doing something low-key on my actual birthday. “I want breakfast for dinner,” I told them. They were fine with that. “And one more thing. I think we should go have a beer….at the Iron Horse.”
The Iron Horse is a roadhouse bar out on Highway 64. We have passed it a thousand times, and it has the look of a biker bar, and we’ve been saying for years we’re going to show up one night and have a beer. I figured it was time to ante up. No more dilly-dallying around, this year, thinking someday, maybe, we should do X,Y, and Z.
We fortified with a giant breakfast-for-dinner, which is my other favorite (along with Lilly’s pizza and the Cat’s Cradle taco truck) and drank our bourbon-infused hot chocolate. It was perfect on top of perfect. And then we piled into the car and drove to The Iron Horse.
I was expecting a certain level of awkward, but I figured it would be a friendly crowd. We arrived at The Iron Horse to find an entirely empty parking lot, and a neon “open” sign. We were confused as to where the bartender would have parked, if the bar were actually open. We never solved that problem, but they were indeed open, and there was indeed a bartender. Asleep. Because he was the only person in the room.
So it was a different kind of awkward, inserting ourselves into this really quiet biker bar, where we were disturbing the peace of the lone bartender. He explained that their Christmas party was last night, and the next bar over was having their Christmas party tonight, so everyone was over there and that’s why the place was empty. We just helped ourselves to a table and drank our beers and girl talked, and ate chocolate cupcakes with bourbon icing (again thanks to Julia.)
The Iron Horse was everything I want my dive bar to be: cozy, with a pool table and a juke box and darts, and a front porch and a back deck, with a grill outside. Just in case. I mean, preferably there’d also be people in there. But we’ll catch them next time.
We slipped out early, so that everyone could catch their early flights, or finish packing, or re-wrap all the presents the dog had chewed. I feel spoiled rotten, with presents and parties and cupcakes and cards and quality time with ‘most all of my favorite people.
(If I’ve missed you in the first four rounds, I’m happy to keep celebrating.)