It is with great pleasure that I announce the real-life meeting of yet another blogger, although this time instead of being in my own neighborhood I had the pleasure of venturing onto the turf of Atlanta-native Beth for an evening of delightful conversation and general debauchery. Let's just say that Beth brought the concept of "Southern Hospitality" to a whole new level, and all of it good.
The day had not started out well at all. I had booked myself on an early flight so that I could get to Atlanta in time to do some conference calls and Webex meetings from my hotel room (which Beth, bless her heart, had helped me find since there was not a single room available in the entire city. Beth's suggestion to stay in Decatur saved me the indignity of having to sleep at the Hyatt out by the airport.)
I was looking forward to settling into my room, taking care of a lot of miscellaneous business, preparing for the next morning's presentation and getting all of it done by 5:30 so that I could meet up with Beth for dinner and a tour of her fair city.
Smelt-ya Airlines put a huge wrinkle into all of this by losing my suitcase which contained, inter alia, the business clothing that I would need for my meeting the next morning.
Now despite the airline's promise that I would very likely have my bag delivered before morning, I was not actually stupid enough to believe them. Or at least not stupid enough to bank my professional reputation on it. So into a cab I jumped and $72 dollars later was delivered to a Macy's not far from where I would be staying.
As Beth had warned me when I called her from the cab to let her know of my plans, this particular Macy's was on the lower end of the fabulosity scale, but I have to tell you I very much enjoyed the experience. For one thing it was around noon on a Wednesday which meant the store was pretty much deserted, resulting in my being able to have a personal shopper do the footwork for me. As soon as I walked in the door I was greeted by a lovely woman who asked if she could help.
"As a matter of fact, yes, I could use some help," I replied. "The airline lost my luggage so I need clothes and shoes for a business meeting tomorrow."
"Well, Sugar, you just leave all that to me," she responded, and walked me right over to the men's section where she began sizing me up. "You're about a 44-long, right?"
Cynthia was uncanny. In addition to knowing my size with just one look at me, she also sensed my style and taste which was pretty remarkable since I was clad only in khaki shorts and a cotton polo shirt. She seemed to know instinctively which colors appealed to me, and when she left me in the fitting room to go find a belt, she even knew to choose one with a silver buckle and not gold.
She was so fabulous that in under an hour I was smartly outfitted with some casual suit separates, two shirts, handsome tie, belt, socks and shoes. (I also purchased some boxers but didn't make her pick those out for me.)
Another cab ride and I arrived at the hotel. Got a bit snippy with the check-in clerk because I really don't understand why hotels always tell you the type of room you requested "wasn't stated in the reservation." Yeah, my ass it wasn't stated. My corporate travel desk has a profile on me and they always request the kind of room I specify (king, non-smoking) when they reserve online. I don't know what the little game is, but I'd rather they just say upfront "you cannot request any specific type of room" instead of pretending they will let you. It's annoying.
I got to my room just in time for a conference call, after which I called Smelt-ya to inquire as to the status of my luggage. "It will be at your hotel by 7:30 am, sir," I was told after about a 20 minute wait.
By this time I had to get changed to prepare for my date with Beth and wasn't able to take care of any other business - including the prep work for the next morning's presentation. No matter, I thought, I'll just do it when I get back, or in the morning.
Beth lives about five minutes away and was ready to go since she had been able to take the day off work. (Poor child had been pulling 80 hour weeks for a long time, which explains her extended absence from the blogs.) Although I felt bad that she had been having a tiring work schedule, I was happy to give her an excuse to cut loose for an evening.
We met up in my hotel's lobby and proceeded down the block to The Chocolate Bar, where the plan was to sit at one of their lovely outdoor tables and enjoy a cocktail to wind down from the stress of the day before moving on to a driving tour and dinner.
Mindy June and Lulu can attest to the fact that it takes years to get to know me -- and for most, even longer to be able to appreciate my quirks.
The amazing thing about meeting people in our blog circle, however, is that we all kind of know each other already through our writing. Because of this, I felt immediately connected to Beth and was able to jump right into a fabulous conversation with her that zig-zagged off into multiple directions within minutes.
Because of who Beth is, with her natural charm, wit and wonderfully casual sense of style, it would have been impossible not to feel at home with her right away. But I have tell you, Gentle Readers, that the connections we have all made with each other because of our collective writing is something very special. We would not all be here together reading about each other's lives if we didn't sense that we liked each other.
Beth and I had a very interesting conversation about just that. Or it could be just me who found it interesting as I went on and on about it while Beth ordered us yet another round of margaritas. But if I was boring her with my non-stop blathering, she hid it well.
We talked about so many different things, and both made references to items we had read in each others' blogs well over a year ago which I thought was pretty damn cool.
Within the hour I announced that she just had to meet Mindy June at some point -- because the two of them have so many things in common it is almost spooky. I'm not saying Mindy is at all replaceable in my life; I'm just saying that I know without a shadow of a doubt that she and Beth would totally crush on each other if they had a chance to meet.
We were both having so much fun with our conversation that we didn't want it to end, and as such remained squarely in our seats, fresh cocktails in hand. By round four Beth acknowledged that the driving tour would have to be postponed which is just as well since getting to know each other was more compelling than visiting the sights of Atlanta at that moment.
I can't even count the number of margaritas we consumed before we were through, but if you total them up between the two of us I know for certain we broke into the double-digits. It was outstanding.
Eventually, we decided dinner would be a good idea and we stumbled on down the street to Watershed as I had requested something akin to down-home Georgia cooking. This place did not disappoint, and despite their having run out of fried chicken prior to our arrival, we made do with all sorts of goodies that Beth unfortunately did not get to enjoy as much as I did because of our over-indulgence on the pre-dinner cocktails. I almost felt really bad for her as I downed an entire plate of fried oysters, a bowl of cheesy grits, most of my okra pancakes and part of Beth's bbq chicken which I swiped from her plate while she was in the restroom (sorry Beth!) It was D-E-L-I-C-I-O-U-S and made my petty crime feel totally worthwhile.
We then stumbled (Beth more than I since she had broken one of her sandals en route) back up the street to my hotel where we enjoyed a lively conversation with the desk clerk about my continuing lack of a suitcase. He took back-of-the-head shots of us on both of our phone cameras, but apparently neither of us is able to transfer the photos from phone to computer. Maybe I could figure it out but I'm lazy. (Update: I figured it out! See beginning of the post. But for the record, I am still lazy.)
I do remember offering to see Beth back to wherever she had to go, but she insisted she was fine and that she was on her own turf and would get home OK. Being too drunk to insist otherwise, I let her wander off into the night unaccompanied, for which I felt really bad when I came to my senses (at about five the next morning.) Thankfully, she did get in touch over email so I know she still lives and breathes. You can even read her recap of the evening here.
To sum things up: Beth is FABULOUS. I absolutely adore her. I strongly encourage you to seek her company should you ever visit Atlanta.