Barred: Maison Pickle and The Parlour

When: Friday, 3:30pm

There is a dearth of restaurants I want to eat at open between 3pm and 5pm on the Upper West Side, a fact I’ve come to realize since having a regular Friday appointment that ends at 3pm in that neighborhood. Maison Pickle seemed like a good a place as any since I was using a voucher to buy a ticket at the AMC across the street for a movie that started in a little over two hours.

I walked in and sat at the bar and right into a conversation about age. Within a minute, I knew that the graying bartender was 42 and that the female half of the former Upper West Siders visiting from California was 39.

“You don’t look 39,” said the young woman seated next to me, who I later found out was only 21.

Only a 21-year-old would think this woman didn’t look 39 because she has no idea what 39 looks like.That may as well be 59. I’d pegged her for at least 44. I had to bite my tongue not to ask how old they thought I was because often people guess younger and It’s an ego boost but just as often, more so lately, I don’t get that reaction anymore. I also don’t jump into conversations with strangers until I’ve had at least one drink.

I had to bite my tongue again when the older visiting couple started disparaging someone they met from the South’s taste in pizza. “That pizza has orange cheese on it.” Then they promptly started giving horrible pizza recommendations to the younger couple who’d just moved into the neighborhood.

* * *

When: Friday, 4:28pm

Two drinks later and I butt into a conversation at The Parlour, an Irish pub up the street. I kind of had to because I took the only open seat at the corner of the bar and there was a man standing on the right side where there were no stools talking to the woman on my left, leaving an empty stool and space enough that I assumed they were not close. I quickly sized up the woman, and decided that this was what 39 looked like for nearly arbitrary reasons.Softer features? Longer hair?

The man, who was in his 50s, lived on the Upper East Side, a world away, and was yammering about restaurants like Ethyl’s and Jacques, the latter which he favored over Le Bernardin or Le Cirque for value. Then he asked the woman, over me because I’m invisible, “Have you been to Maison Pickle? They know the word buy back.”

I had just witnessed this very thing among the guests who seemed to be regulars, so I finally broke my silence. I ended up talking for a while to the woman who worked in PR and for whatever reason was playing hooky like me. At some point, unprompted by me, she referred to “people her age” and implied she was over 40. I flat out asked, “So, how old are you?” 46. I felt relieved.

Unasked for datapoint: This guy had no idea who Lena Dunham was. The woman did. 

Was I carded? No way.

Age appropriate? Yes to both bars.

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