I don’t know if my neighborhood bar will return in a way that resembles its former self after the pandemic ends, but I hope that it does because I had many conversations there that expanded my life a bit. Some examples:
- Twenty-six years old and six foot six, Jordan said he had a beard because it hid his weak chin and his babyface. He was from Ohio, which got mentioned frequently. He seemed to be amazed that raised in Toledo and educated at Ohio State, he was now living in New York City. He wondered how long you had to live in New York before you could call yourself a New Yorker. He was a bit tipsy because he was celebrating having gotten a contract to teach middle school math in a Brooklyn charter school. He had learned about the opening while working at Trader Joe’s. He also took care of kids. He referred to this as a “manny,” a male nanny. He said he was a baseball pitcher with an 86-88 mph fastball. He had not been on the college team, but he played in a Central Park league that he said had ex-major leaguers.
- A tall, blonde server from southern Germany said that she was leaving to attend graduate school in Hawaii. I don’t remember what she was studying, but she was convinced that the program she was enrolling in was one of the best in the country. She was also confident that when she got her Ph.D., she would easily get a tenure track position at New York University. I bit my tongue so I would not dampen her enthusiasm, but I thought that she had a lot to learn about the academic world.
- I don’t know remember his name, but both his mother and father were half German and half Colombian. He said that there were many German-Colombian couples in Colombia. Although he was born in the U.S., he had also spent parts of his childhood in Colombia and Germany. He could speak English, Spanish, German, and Polish. He had lived in Poland when he was married to a Polish woman. At 33, he was now divorced.
- A woman came from a rear area up to the bar to order a beer. I asked who the group of young people in the back were. She told me that they had all been involved in film studies at Vassar. I asked how many of them were actually working in the industry, and she proudly replied that she had just finished co-directing a documentary about public health providers in New Mexico. She had been working on it for four years. In reply to my question, she said that it had taken six months to decide on the three providers that the film focused on. I asked for a brief synopsis and she referred to the “dog line,” a term I was not familiar with. She told me about documentary makers she admired and that her film had been selected by the Independent Lens series on PBS, but she did not yet know when it would air.
- A bit later a young man from the group was next to me. He was a producer of what he described as small independent films and listed three or four movies that he had been produced. I knew none of them or their directors. I said that I thought of producers as being rich. He replied that it certainly helped to be wealthy, but he was not. He said that he also produced commercials from which he made more income than from the movies. He had a new movie that had been shown at Sundance and was going to be the closing selection at the Brooklyn Academy of Music film festival that would open in a few days. I said that that must be a big honor and without looking overly proud he concurred. His film had been picked up for nationwide distribution. He had several other movies that were in their final editing phases. He recommended some recently opened commercial movies, but the one he was highest on sounded too scary for me. I told him about some of the films I had gone to over the last couple weeks that he had not yet seen. I enjoyed our conversation but have not seen him since then.