Alive, Even in the Snow

It is so cold here, the snow squeaks underfoot. I didn’t know snow could be like that–all hard and dry and squeaky.

I am slowly recovering from book and sick, and remerging into the world like unto a groundhog–and lo! Shadows abound! It is frigid here, and I love it. Hurrah for a real winter!

And hurrah for a real life. On Saturday, in celebration of finishing said book,


took me out to the Velvet Tango Room, with


arm in arm. Let me tell you–this one place elevates Cleveland into the land of cool like no other. It is the Algonquin the Algonquin dreams of becoming. It is swanky and lovely and tongue-in-cheek and unassailably cool, with a backroom concealed behind a mirror which we got to enter by virtue of


being the people to know about town, a huge, slick piano amid scarlet curtains and statues of dead communists, a royal fireplace complete with stone lions at attention, and low light, just the kind that glitters on everyone.

And the menu–these folks make drinks the way BPAL makes perfume. Authentic 40s drinks and cosmopolitan cutting edge creations, the whole bang. Descriptions that make your mouth water. 12 second flavor developments on the tongue. House-made root beer floats with organic tahitian vanilla gelato and real root beer, like, made from roots. I had a bourbon daisy (said 12 seconds were an understatement) and a champagne cocktail. Honestly, they’re not even that expensive, for the effort put into them. All this place needs is a group of writers and it would be the greatest place ever invented. The Velvet Tango Circle–I can see it now. Unfortunately, writers can rarely afford even the more or less reasonable drink rates more than once in a long while.

And in these lush environs,

and I talked about the Big DP and Robert Benchley–I can honestly say I have never felt so close to the guy. But then, I am a lit geek girl who can go all melty over someone (not mentioning

here, totally not) completing her quotations. Referencing my authorial obsessions is the straight and direct road to my heart.

At any rate, it’s the kind of place that makes you feel shiny and smart just by being there. I want to go back right now. I would finish a whole other book just to go back, that’s how cool it was.

And the thing is–I’ve spent so many years cloistered away in corners of the world, finishing books in the dark with no one around, no one to talk to, so many years out of the world, having nothing like a family or network of friends, or anyone really close to me, it meant everything to have people to toast with, to laugh with, to be alive with.

I want to belong to the living
–I always liked that lyric. And now, it seems, maybe I do.

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