I was having dinner with some good friends the other night when I was reminded of a recurring scene from my life that still brings a smile to my face nearly 20 years later.
On most Sunday nights from 1992 until sometime in 1994, I sat with some real good friends in a wooden booth at a bar overlooking State Street in Media, Pennsylvania. Joclyn's Bar is still there, up a steep flight of wooden stairs into a gloomy series of rooms that was a dive then and is even more of a dive today.
Back then though, it was where a few of us serendipitously found a place where we ended the weekend and got ready for the week. A local folk singer-songwriter was the soundtrack of our Sunday nights, covering anything you wanted from Elvis to The Eagles, as long as you wrote the request on a dollar bill. John Flynn's originals silenced the din of the bar though, making us look sadly at the necks of our beer bottles, or wistfully out the windows, or even, sometimes, late in the evening, sing along.
There was Lisa the self-tipping waitress, whose hair ranged from 3/4 of an inch tall all the way to two inches and knew how to flirt just enough. We helped he move one hot summer day and helped her shovel her car out the night of the blizzard. We threw our money in the middle of the table and she took what she needed for the beer and a little for herself for each round.
Every now and then Bopper or Jim and I would try to bring someone new into the group, from my college friends to the women who would become our wives, but they never were really comfortable. It was a low key place back then and orders for Chardonnay were greeted with Lisa's bemused smirk. My college friends never understood the folk music thing and never came back for a second Sunday night.
Joclyn's is different now, John Flynn doesn't play there anymore and I had not thought about Lisa in years. Jim, Bopper and I have kids now, and we're too tired at the end of a weekend for Sunday night shenanigans. Still, there have not been too many places that I have hung out in that were as perfect in that moment as Joclyn's was on those nights.
The romantic poets were always my favorites, exalting us to take up the "carpe diem" banner and draw as much out of life as we can. This post isn't as much an homage to a those long-ago Sunday nights as much as it is a notation of the moment I realized how many others I had let past with treasuring them as deeply as I should have. We've all got a Joclyn's in our life that can help remind us.