“You’re just a Classic Southern Lady,” my friend Karl was saying.
“YOU TAKE THAT BACK RIGHT THIS MINUTE,” I was saying back. Because I’m fine with “classic” and “southern,” and may or may not be a “lady,” depending on the context, but Classic Southern Lady has all kinds of connotations I don’t want any part of. Shopping at Lily Pulitzer. Volunteer organizations that require social references. Monogrammed Iphone cases and bobbed hair and competitive hostessing. It’s all fine if that’s your thing, but it’s just not mine. That said, I’m not always sure what my thing is, anyway. People evolve. Whatever.
We were discussing Neptune’s, actually, and the reasons my friend Chad had talked me into stopping by for First Friday, even after a couple of judgmental rants about it last month. I could not believe I had agreed to it but then, Chad is one of the nicest people in the whole world and will probably be the next mayor of Raleigh, and he could make anything sound like fun. Even DJ-club-dance-beatz night at Neptune’s. Chad assured me Neptune’s on DJ-club-dance-beatz night would be filled with hipsters of a reasonable age, and not the crowd of twenty year old pre-adults in Glenwood South attire I was picturing. I told Chad I would go for one drink, and promised not to make a Judgy Face even if the music was all DOO-jzh DOO-jzh DOO-jzh. So, I was telling Karl if I fit into any demographic it would probably be “hipsters of a reasonable age,” although that’s not quite right, which is when he hit me with Classic Southern Lady.
I eventually worked around to labeling myself “Creative Class” and left it at that. I like Creative Class people. What we lack in money and job stability, we make up for in imagination and style. Karl didn’t respond to that. You could tell he wanted to say “CSL” again, but was too smart to pursue the point, with That Look on my face.
So, we First Friday-ed, and as usual, there is no crowd into which I seamlessly blend, though I liked them all. Flanders was a pretty good mix of artsy folks, and I learned the word “bricolage.” I didn’t go to the weather exhibit at CAM, but this artificial fog cloud makes me want to:
And then there was the community-center feeling crowd at VAE, and a much older and quieter crowd at one of the next galleries down, and then the uber-hip and edgy crowd at Designbox, and then we stopped by a birthday party downtown at which I just felt plain old. Last stop before Neptune’s was the Matthew Curran auction above Centro, so you know the food was the best anywhere around. It was a very College of Design crowd, and I ran into a bunch of people I knew from school. In typical College of Design fashion, the crowd was a sea of artful fashion ensembles in ranges of black, dark charcoal, and dove gray; lots of dark vintage pea coats, geek chic glasses, and beards. This would otherwise have been my best shot of the night at blending in with a crowd, had I really wanted to; of course, I was wearing my new white wool coat, pristine save for the one perfect Dawg footprint on the hem, and just had to wander through the gallery presenting myself as a study in chromatic contrast.
And then we went to Neptunes. I am attempting this year to keep a more open mind on all fronts; I am happy to say, therefore, that a) the bartenders down there are among the nicest in Raleigh, b) the crowd was much more diverse, interesting, and reasonably aged than I’d assumed, and c) there was neither a ridiculous maxi dress nor a fedora in sight. The drinks also have giant swank ice cubes.
“You do a lap around this room, find your perfect hipster, give me and the guys a heads-up, and we will implement #27 in the playbook. You know # 27, right? You don’t? Whatever. Just play along,” says Chad. And I laughed, but that was never the plan. I am the shy girl in the bar who sees a Handsome Hipster and then blushes and looks at her feet. But my crowd got drinks and enjoyed our corner.
Twenty minutes in, the music went from mildly annoying to a pounding DOO-jzh DOO-jzh DOO-jzh so loud and aggressive that I wanted to hit someone. So, so, so much worse than I had pre-judged. Apparently the music is different in there every time. Good heavens. Life is too precious to sit in a basement with DOO-jzh DOO-jzh DOO-jzh rattling your psyche while you can’t hear your friends and people start to shake things in a most unflattering way. Not when there is so much good music in the world and a baby dog at home waiting for you.
So I walked home before the crowd got fully cranked up, and strengthened my resolve to be more open-minded this year except for when it comes to music, and declared the evening (mostly) a success.