There are really only two reasons to stop at an airport bar: to kill time or to have a drink. Or, most likely, both. In fact, both were my reasons when I made my way to a wine bar at Dallas Love Field last week.
When I’m heading home from a trip and I’m traveling by myself, I love to afford myself the time to sit and have a real meal before boarding my return flight. Usually my schedule doesn’t allow for such luxuries because I’m always running late. But sometimes it works out and you get more than that drink you were looking for.
As I glanced at the airport directory, I realized my options were limited. I could either head to some southwestern-ish burger bar, grab some fast food, or wait my turn for a first-come, first-serve spot at the wine bar. And I wanted some good wine.
After circulating through the small dining room, I found a few tables getting ready to empty but a man at the bar offered to give up his seats since he had a larger party. So Heather and I sat down together at the bar.
Heather was simply the woman waiting in line for a seat and we just happened to sit down next to each other. But an hour or so later, I left with a huge smile on my face and felt lighter in spirit and NOT simply because of the excellent wine I consumed.
The bartender handed me a menu and gave off the “all business” vibe. He was there to take my order, hand me my check, and send me on my way. I ordered the “Old World” White Wines flight and Heather, contemplating which red to choose, though my selection looked lovely and ordered the same.
We started by chatting about the wine and then the conversation turned to music. I made a joke to the bartender about the odd selection of music for a wine bar (Ozzy Osborne, AC/DC) and Heather asked me if I had ever been to Red Rocks for a concert.
Her birthday was coming up and she was thinking about buying tickets to see Greg Allman. She giggled about the price of front row seats and wondered if maybe she should splurge.
Why not? I said. She admitted that she was a huge fan of Greg Allman and would love to be in the front row. So go for it! I suggested. Only recently, my husband did the same when he took us to the front row of the Imagine Dragons concert.
I asked if she liked good food and wine and she did. I didn’t even have to finish the thought before she realized the tickets were about the cost of two fancy lunches with her girlfriend. Tickets bought! I felt like her partner in crime, like we had conspired in some way.
We ordered more wine, shared my flatbread, and our conversation turned to television and movies. For reasons I can’t remember, we started talking about our mutual fandom for The Andy Griffith Show, a show that my nine year old son has recently discovered on Netflix. Not only does he watch it but he laughs in all the right places. It makes my heart swell with pride.
Talk of Andy Griffith turned to talk of Don Knotts and his comedic genius and that’s where the bartender came back in. Mr. Business heard us talking about Don Knotts and asked if we had ever seen the movie, The Ghost and Mr. Chicken. Although I hadn’t seen it, the bartender came to life recounting some of his favorite parts and we saw a small smile come across his face. Before we knew it, he had poured us a little extra and replaced my overcooked flatbread with a fresh one.
Heather gave me her card and I gave her a hug. She had lightened my spirit when I was just about ready to just collapse. And it was my turn to do the same for someone else.
The soundtrack in the bar changed from heavy metal to 80s. I looked at the crowds sitting beside me and asked if they could name the band. The older crowd (looking roughly my age) looked at me as if I was crazy. But I insisted they try to recapture some of their youth.
When I was met with blank stares (although the bartender knew the right answer), I heard someone behind me whistling along with the song. I turned around quickly and said, “Name the band!” Which he did and we had a laugh. (The song, by the way, was “And We Danced” by The Hooters).
I pushed again when the next song came on. Surely you know who sings this one, right? Again, I had blank stares. I’m not sure if they thought I was crazy or if they just wanted to be left alone but I turned to my musical cohort behind me and said Name the singer! Sure enough, he got Kenny Loggins.
And then, one of the men next to me slowly turned and said, I know what movie it’s from!
It was from Caddyshack so of course he knew the song.
My time was up and my flight was getting ready to board. Off I went waving farewell to the people I’d never see again. I remembered the smile Heather put on my face, the smile we put on the bartender’s face, and thought about the smiles that might come to there others as I left the bar.
Every day, every encounter is a story waiting to happen. We just need to draw out the characters sometimes.