As I sit at this tiny vanity writing, I’m trying to work up the strength to walk downhill to join my girlfriends for brunch at Park Island Market-Cafe. I am paying *dearly* for our night last night.
Well, let me start from the beginning. My girlfriends F. and J. and I drove down from Fayetteville, Ark., to Hot Springs, Ark., yesterday. After checking in to our cozy, funky room at the B Inn, we struck off to cruise the downtown. F. had never been to Hot Springs before, so J. and I were eager to show her the sights. As an added bonus, last night was the regular monthly gallery walk, where lots of art galleries keep their doors open late into the night. Most of them also put out trays of munchies like cheese cubes, pretzels, candy, and most importantly, tiny plastic cups of wine. All free. So the three of us wandered Central Avenue/Bathhouse Row, looking in the closed shop windows and popping in and out of galleries, each time downing another tiny plastic cup of wine.
By around 8, we were starving, so we went to the exceptional Rolando’s restaurant – incidentally being one of the first people to eat in their new upstairs “speakeasy,” which was wonderfully quiet and nearly empty – a welcome change from the noisy throngs in the galleries. The food was excellent and plentiful, and we each had a drink with our dinners.
After stuffing ourselves on goat-cheese quesidillas, pollo Bohemio, tilapia, black beans, and rice, we decided to check out the back patio. It’s a wonderful, cozy, almost cave-like atmosphere, tucked between the building and the side of the mountain, with Christmas lights wrapped around all the trees. We sat in metal chairs, listened to a hilarious singer/guitar player, and had another drink. (I think you see where this is going).
By then it was about 10, and we were divided on whether it was “still early,” or “time to head back to the room.” Bear in mind, I’m 40, and right in the middle, age-wise, of our little trio. Finally convinced that it was “still early,” and because this was our weekend to “tear it up,” I consented to go along with the other two to The Ohio Club and listen to live music. And probably drink.
The Ohio Club is old, smoky, and crowded as any respectable bar should be. We scored some seats near a cluster of men of a common kind for Hot Springs: over 55, balding, paunchy, wearing polo shirts, khaki shorts, and glasses. We all enjoyed the house band; they played covers of classic-rock favorites and a few top-40 blues from the ’60s and ’70s. Not anything exceptional, but for a bunch of AARP-aged guys (and one gal) in a house band, they were pretty damned good.
J. was the first one to dance, followed by two college-aged white girls (almost all the patrons were white, which I found suspicious for a blues bar in Hot Springs). Soon the cramped little dance floor was packed. Besides the college girls, J. and F. were the youngest women there, and had the amorous attention of a bar full of old dudes all night. “Coming from a college town where we’re ‘too old’ to even get looked at, it was a little flattering,” J. said. “Gross,” I said, and had more wine. We didn’t get back to our room until 12:30 a.m.
And so, this morning, I paid for it. After availing myself of all three healing modalities – pharmaceutical, herbal, and self-care (i.e., napping) – I am beginning to feel human again. Good thing: we’ve still got to soak in the mineral waters this afternoon.