Sunday, March 20, 2011

A Saved Chocolate

Funny how you just do some things and think back later and wonder why you did them.

I saved a chocolate from my stay at the Alluvian Hotel a little over a week ago. Why did I do that?

Well, probably because I love chocolate and just can't think of not taking a "free" piece with me when I leave a hotel. But, this piece, for some reason, was more important to save.

I think I was trying, in some small way, to save the memories of that Friday night.

Lee and I left Memphis for our first trip alone together to "THE DELTA". He was so sweet to agree to come with me to Rolling Fork to see my new place. But, we couldn't check in until Saturday. There was no way I was only going to have one night in the Delta, so we made reservations at the Alluvian in Greenwood for Friday night and ventured south from Memphis on a Friday afternoon.

Diners have their own private booths at the Alluvian's Giardinas
We arrived around 5:00 and had dinner reservations at a near-by restaurant at 6:00. With not much time to waste, we headed straight for the Alluvian bar! We started out at a table, but when a place at the bar opened up, we were johnny on the spot. I told Lee that it is always more fun to be at the bar and talk to the folks sitting there than to be at a table by yourself. Good advice for a 21 year old just beginning to understand bars!

Well, we were not disappointed. I recognized a regular right away. In fact, he was sitting in the same seat back last September when Pat and I had ventured into the Delta for a music festival. He was holding court with an old guard Leflore County  couple. He is from Tallahatchie County, which always makes me think about that tragic story captured in song about someone jumping off the Tallahatchie bridge!

As we got settled in, an older gentleman worked his way to the bar with help from one of the waiters. He had been sitting at a table too, just waiting for a spot to open up, just like us! He moved slowly due to recent surgery. He told us later he was in Greenwood for physical therapy.

What a great visit we had. We talked with him about college, film and media (Lee's major at Birmingham-Southern), Louise (yes he knew where it was), my new place in Rolling Fork, and his life in Sumner, about 30 minutes from Greenwood. He knew the bar tenders by name (as did the guy sitting in the corner) and they treated him and us with such grace and deference.

The Alluvian bar is a great place to really get to understand the Delta. People come there to meet others and to engage others. It is not a stuffy bar at all. It is about saying hello, and "where you from", and "do you know so and so", and "where are you going for dinner?" As you can tell, they have their own set of regulars. We even met a couple from Collierville, TN sitting at a nearby table. We were close friends by the end of the evening.

The art of conversation is definitely appreciated in the Alluvian bar.

The Alluvian bar is not the exception at all. It is the rule. People in the Delta are waiting for an excuse to talk with you! All you have to do is pause a little and they are pulling you in and out of your shell.

They say that the lobby bar at The Peabody Hotel in Memphis is the beginning of the Delta. If so, the Alluvian bar is in the heart of the Delta You never met a stranger at the Alluvian bar. You are "everyman" and you are talking to everyone at the bar..all connected by being there and in the Delta at the same time.

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