Sunday, March 22, 2015

Only the Lonely or Maybe Those with Malintent?

Friday night and, coincidentally, it's Spring Break so Atlantic Avenue in Delray Beach, Florida is should-to-shoulder with a very mixed crowd. Walking along the equivalent of Restaurant Row (only these are all open to the sidewalk), you get the feeling you're in South Beach but it's a bit farther north along Florida's Atlantic Coast and not everyone has to be dressed so expensively. Revealing, when possible, tight, yes, but not from D&G.

Look around and you see the crowd is made up of gaggles of young women seriously sipping away at drinks on the outdoor patios. Older men in their late 70s and early 80s are standing obediently to the side of a hostess stand waiting for a table. They look extremely out of place in their golf attire.

How long for a table at one of the favorite eating/drinking spots on a corner? "It's going to be 30-45 minutes," the young woman says in her New York accent. She doesn't even look up or offer any encouragement. Who cares? If you don't get in line with the guys over there, someone else will and, besides, it's getting close to 7:00PM and the eating tide of people will be rushing out soon. But, you know they all lie and it's going to be more like an hour or so before anyone budges. Want to stand and look very uncomfortable as you wait for that elusive table? I think not. You move on into the undulating stream that engulfs you as you step one foot outside the restaurant confines.

The valet parking guys are busy running all over as the Ferraris and Lexis and Jeeps pull up and drivers walk away oblivious to anyone in their way. One calls the woman, with whom he's just stepped out of a Lexis, as though he were telling a dog to "heel." She rushes up.

There's work to be done. Where will your baby be parked? Who knows. It will go anywhere in the two-three block area where there's an open spot and you will pay $10 for this street-parking privilege.

Eating is a cover activity, as though you didn't know this already. Yes, you have to eat, but where you are seated and whether or not you can be appropriately viewed by the crowd on the street is ultra important. Know about that Wednesday seating chart at Michael's in New York City where all the media glitterati gather for lunch? Similar here.

No one dares go to a restaurant off Atlantic Avenue and you don't want to be near the railroad track because that's dead and you won't get that hook-up you are desperately seeking for this one week or one night you're here.  A train comes barreling through the intersection reminding everyone about taking care while walking over the tracks. And I do mean barreling.

Three of the main corners are hogged by huge restaurants with interesting, but not expensive, decor. One place has chairs molded to like like someone's ass just sat down to form it. No padding, just formed plastic, but it's really cool, right? And you get to sit out on the terrace area where you get the best view. Super!

Off to the side of one of the open-air restaurants a woman, probably in her early 40s, is dressed nicely and chatting up a college guy who must be no more than 23. "Oh, my son is in college now," she begins. Lady, I think that is the kiss of death or this kid has an idea what you're really here for. He looks a bit uncomfortable as he strains to make any type of small talk. His face is somewhat blank and the strain is too much for anyone to tolerate.

You get the feeling that he's a small animal being stalked and perhaps that's the way he's feeling, too. That table of six coeds right in front of him must be a bit more inviting right now, but they just chirp away in apparent indifference to his presence. Want to bet he stood there just to see if he could be noticed when this woman came along and snared him? Oh, Miss Lonelihearts, where are you when I need you? And he does need you right now.

At the other booming restaurant on the diagonal corner, two women, who have seen too many sunny days in South Florida, look a bit too desperate as they sip away at their drinks. What do they hope to find here? They aren't eating and the competition is frighteningly young, athletic and attractive. Maybe those guys waiting at the other restaurant for that table that will never come in 45 minutes? Nah. Are they working girls? Nah.

Is all of this really fun for anyone? It's the proverbial meat market only it's out on the warm Florida street in this first day of Spring. Who's going home alone tonight and who will be regretting what they did? Will anyone tell the real story or will they make it up as required to protect their egos? You know the answer.

The evening is interesting if only to be an observer. No, not like the anthropologist participant/observer, just an observer. Then you get to write blogs like this after you decide that the comfort of a highly touted glatt kosher restaurant will serve your needs nicely.

The crawl on Atlantic Avenue fades into the background as your car heads where you know you'll get a table (already called) and feel entirely comfortable.

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