A couple of weeks ago, I emailed Mimi to ask, "Shall we get drinks after work one last time before you retire?" I don't know when her last day is exactly, but I do know it's before the end of the year, and she is in the throes of training her replacement. It occurred to me just now there's a pretty good chance I'll never see her in person again after she leaves PCC. That alone makes me sad. Mimi is a truly special person, one of many who have retired within the past couple of years.
She's also one of three leaving by the end of the year, and there's to be a party here at the office for all three of them tomorrow late afternoon -- for Customer Service Manager Mimi (after working here 39 years); Controller Sharon (22 years); and Nutrition Educator Marilyn (10 years), all of them retiring. Unless Mimi has another party sometime that she invites me to, like her 70th birthday party I went to last fall, I may never see her again after tomorrow.
Mimi had responded that she and Claudia had talked about doing the same thing, and asked if we could all go together. Of course! I love hanging out with Claudia and would like to more often. Mimi gave out a list of dates, Claudia and I narrowed them down to ones on which we were both available, and we all settled on Wednesday, November 29. I suggested Aqua by El Gaucho, which Claudia and Dylan and I had gone to for my Birth Week, both because I liked the place and because it's super convenient from work -- it's on Pier 70 so you literally look right back at our building across a little bit of water through the windows at the bar.
The place, generally speaking, has very expensive dishes, but I figured I could get one or two starters at the bar at reasonable prices -- and the few things I've eaten there now, between the visit in April and this one, leaves me thinking I should go back for a real dinner, complete with a reserved table, sometime, because literally all of the food I've had there has been spectacular. Hmm. Maybe I'll consider that for my Birth Week next year.
Claudia has a friend who works as a bartender there named Nolan, and they have a fair amount in common having once lived in New Orleans, a place they clearly both have very fond memories of. When we had drinks at Aqua in April, Claudia had been very deliberate about sitting at the bar so we could be served by him. He was expecting him not to be working last night -- but then, he was! So, at her suggestion, we all sat at the bar so we could have more interaction with him. Mimi met us there, after I rode with Claudia in her truck when she moved it to a new, closer parking spot.
And this Nolan guy really took care of us -- just as he did back in April, when he kept bringing us stuff that he did not charge us for. This happened last night too, although I couldn't tell you everything we got for free or not, as I never looked closely at the receipt. Mimi had said the first round was on her: "I owe Claudia a drink so you get to ride on that train, Matthew."
I had nearly four cocktails, in the end, and only paid for one of them, really. I say "nearly" because I accidentally knocked over my first one when it was nearly finished -- and broke the stem of the martini glass in half. Another guy besides Nolan quickly came over to wipe up the mess; I apologized and said, "I've only had one drink. I'm not drunk, I swear!" He asked what drink I was having -- pineapple martini -- and within minutes I had a replacement. I'm pretty sure we did not get charged for that. I was later asked if I wanted a third; I considered for a moment and then said yes. That would be the drink I did pay for.
The fourth drink I had was a Mai Tai, which I ordered semi-spontaneously after Nolan told, once again -- as he did back in April as well -- Claudia's favorite story about when he once served Usher at this place. Part of the story included Usher drinking the Mai Tai he'd prepared for him and then declaring, "This is the best Mai Tai I've ever had." After the story was done, I said to Mimi and Claudia, "Well sometime I'm going to have to come back here and try one of those Mai Tais!"
Claudia then suggested I just get one now -- even though by that point we'd been there over three hours. It didn't take much convincing, and I asked Nolan for one of these famous Mai Tais. Apparently they didn't currently have all the exact same ingredients as had been in Usher's Mai Tai, "But it'll still be good." I said okay.
He brought me the drink and he said, "This one's on Usher." Jesus Chris! This Nolan guy was, like, stupid generous. I later gave him a 40% tip. (Mimi told me just to contribute $20; I gave an $8 tip.) And indeed, that drink was holy-shit delicious. I took one sip and then practically gasped as I said, "Oh my god!" It was amazing. Honestly, slightly less amazing over time as the ice in it melted -- but still amazing. When Nolan returned to ask how I liked it, I said, "I know you've heard this before, but -- this is the best Mai Tai I've ever had!"
Other things Nolan brought us, unsolicited, included a bread basket with salted butter that was stupendous; an off-the-menu side dish of something like three different mushrooms, marinated, that was incredible; and even, after Claudia told him Mimi was retiring, three small glasses of champagne. The dishes we actually ordered, and split three ways, were a side of wonderful fries and a salad that was legitimately shocking in how delicious it was. For that, they even brought it to us in three small portions on individual plates, even though we'd only made the one order.
Everything I consumed there was awesome -- except maybe the champagne, which was just okay, because that's always how I feel about champagne.
I should have gotten a picture while we were there. It was pretty off-brand for me not to think of that. Instead in today's DLU you just get photos of Christmas decorations.
It was 9:30 by the time I was walking home through downtown from there, which rather surprised me -- I had no idea we were there for four full hours; we'd met at 5:30. I did not go home first as there was no time, and Shobhit wound up getting extended hours and working until -- well, about 9:30. He actually beat me home. The cats had to wait several hours for their dinner, although as I expected they were totally fine. More than fine, in fact: I've been marveling lately at how seldom they've puked in the past couple of weeks. It's like suddenly, out of nowhere, after literally years of one or the other of them barfing several times a week minimum, they're barfing almost never. I think there's been only one or two pukes in the past full couple of weeks. Nothing in particular has changed so I have no idea why this change, but I'm sure going to enjoy it while it lasts.
But I digress. Mimi and Claudia and I found plenty to talk about while hanging out at Aqua by El Gaucho for four hours, including some gossipy work stuff prodded by Claudia. She asked who Mimi is most glad to be saying goodbye to, and Mimi's initial response, surprisingly, was a customer -- one who complains incessantly, apparently, and so Mimi often has to deal with her. Claudia and I were both more interested in who she would say that about at the office, and Mimi obliged with an answer to that too.
Eventually the subject came up of when Mimi once gifted me a matted photo of a naked man's ass at work, a story that amused Claudia endlessly. I'm quite surprised I never wrote about it in my journal; I checked the date and that day's entry says nothing about it. I did post about it on Facebook, though, and have an image of it on my Flickr account.
My initial post read, I was just given an old matted photograph prominently featuring a man's bare ass by someone in HR, in front of the director of HR, in case you wondered how the company I work for is different. And then, in the rather entertaining comment thread, I provided these details: She sort of built up to it, saying she had been going through an old closet and found this photo by an old photographer friend of hers. I seriously expected something along the lines of a great Seattle skyline shot. Then she whips out this guy's ass. And a split second later the director of HR walked up. They've known each other for years and there was nothing more than light ribbing about it. I'm sure I went instantly beet red. I did gladly accept the photo, but I put it in my bag right quick.
When Mimi recounted the story last night, she provided further details I had either forgotten or never knew at all, such as that apparently Nancy, the Director of HR, was mostly concerned that I would worry about the fact that she happened to walk right by at that moment. I mean, this remains one of the most memorable moments in all fifteen of my years (so far) at this job. It was never lost on me that such a thing would never fly in most corporate environments (I mean, not officially -- I suppose all this news of late of predatory male bosses adds a new dimension to that idea), or even that it was emblematic of "old school" long-time employees, and I guarantee you no one more recently hired would ever do that. And I'm not complaining, for the record -- I just find it all amusing. It's sort of like when Jennifer once told me about visiting a friend's place in San Francisco once with tons of archived gay history, including, as she put it, "gay pornography."
Mimi told us last night this photo had come from a collection of lots of "very X-rated" pictures -- I asked if that meant outright pornographic, and she said no, but one photo she did recall was of a man in a garden who had a penis hanging down to his ankles.
Anyway. As I told Mimi and Claudia, that picture has ever since been hanging on my bedroom wall. She gave that to me on January 22, 2015. When I first saw that after finding the old Facebook post this morning, it seemed more recent than I thought -- the memory feels older. On the other hand, that's nearly three years ago now. It's easy to assume two years when you just see "2015" versus "2018," but it was in January, after all, and it's only one more month until January 2018. And three years is kind of a while, I guess.
We all left the bar, walked to Elliott Avenue on Broad Street where they were to turn to the left, hugs all around, and I turned to the right. I told them I was pretty buzzed, which was true. Four cocktails will do that to you. I do remember what little I had left of the evening, but it is slightly fuzzy. I walked about halfway up Capitol Hill then hopped on a #11 bus once it caught up to me on Pine, and rode the rest of the way. Shobhit was home when I arrived, and I pretty much immediately started getting ready for bed, as it was already past 10:00 by this time.
I fell asleep at 10:37 and slept like the dead for the next six hours and forty-five minutes. I have no idea when Ivan got home from work, but if he arrived at 10:40 like usual, then this time he didn't wake me up even though I'd only fallen asleep literally minutes before. He didn't wake me up whatever time he arrived, and presumably chatted at least a little with Shobhit, and I have no idea what time Shobhit came to bed either. Literally nothing woke me up all night, which is actually rarer and rarer (and annoying) as I get older. This seems to be kind of the pattern now, though: one or two evenings I have trouble sleeping, which makes me tired enough after a couple of nights that I get a solid night's sleep.
[posted 12:19 pm]