I’ll be the first to admit that I am an exceptionally boring person. When Friday evening rolls around, there is a 99.9% chance that I will have my jammies on by 6:00 and be firmly planted on my couch eating popcorn and watching Daniel Tiger with Annie. I’ll get up long enough to eat dinner and put the kids to bed. Then it’s right back downstairs to the couch. If it’s an exciting night, Danny and I might have a glass of wine and watch Outlander until we fall asleep and then wake ourselves up snoring.
Sometimes, however, we get invited to go to cool places with cool people. A couple of weeks ago our super-cool/awesome/smart/hip neighbors invited us to tour The Rieger Distillery with them, followed by drinks at Manifesto. We decided that giving up a Friday night of sweatpants and children’s programming would be alright and booked our reservation.
Friday evening, I rushed home from work, curled my hair and stood, perseverating in my closet for quite some time before figuring out what to wear. Why is it, when I’m in a hurry and trying to find something nice to wear, that I reach for the most obscure outfit in my closet? The dress that I literally haven’t worn for 6 years? When I have 5 other perfectly nice dresses that I know for sure are clean and fit appropriately? I don’t know why I do this, but I do. So I threw on an old green dress that I haven’t worn for 6 years, dusted off the shoulders and found a pair of closed-toe shoes (required for the distillery tour) and was ready to go.
After my mom took our picture (because she’s my mom), we walked through our backyard to meet our neighbors at their house. We waited together as they tracked our Lyft driver on their phones (this is something that cool people do). We should have been a little suspicious when his tracker was moving in the wrong direction and he ended up being 10 minutes late…but it was Friday night, I guess that makes it alright…and we said “driver, have you got enough gas?” Sorry…if you were born after 1990, that’s a reference to a Prince song.
We loaded in the car and quickly recognized that our driver likely had some degree of cognitive impairment and either couldn’t, or simply didn’t want to turn his head to the left. He also seemed pretty unfamiliar with the Kansas City highway system and almost killed us when he veered across two lanes of traffic, in the middle of an exit ramp, in order to stay on I-35 and not exit onto Southwest BLVD. I know this because I DID turn my head to the left and saw a rather large pickup truck directly beside us when we veered. I think God wanted us to get to the Rieger and sent his angel Frangelico to watch over us.
I won’t bore you with the rest of the details about how we finally got to The Rieger, but just know that they involve yelling from the back seat, driving into oncoming traffic and lots of trains. LOTS of trains. And construction. And sweat.
So we arrived, surprisingly unscathed, at The Rieger and began our tour. It started with a cool video about the history of J. Rieger & Co. in Kansas City, the repercussions of Prohibition and how the great-great-great grandson of founder, Jacob Rieger, resurrected the family business.
We walked through the facility and saw big tanks and pipes and machines that they use to make alcohol. There was talk of yeast, fermentation and CO2 and I panicked for a minute wondering if I was ever going to get to sample some alcohol, or if I was going to be stuck in Krebs Cycle hell for the remainder of the night. Fortunately talk of chemistry was kept to a minimum and the remainder of the tour was really quite entertaining.
After the tour, we were lead into a tasting room where I became keenly aware that I had been fasting all day. I’ve been on the Intermittent Fasting bandwagon for the past two years and generally love it, however, fasting for 24 hours prior to a distillery tour and tasting is probably a very poor decision.
Okay, so 24 hours of fasting, generous samples of vodka, gin, whiskey and caffé amaro, then a gin and tonic (allegedly) and I was silly. So we went upstairs to the Monogram Lounge for some sustenance. I tried to make eye contact with the waitress as I ordered, but I’m fairly certain my eyes were darting back and forth with some sort of iatrogenic horizontal nystagmus. And when I spoke, it sounded like my voice was coming from elsewhere. I was apparently able to say something intelligible and shortly thereafter a club sandwich was placed in front of me to sop up my alcohol. I know that’s not how it works, but in my mind it made sense at the time.
After we ate, and slid, we headed outside to meet our next Lyft driver. Or maybe it was Uber. I couldn’t keep track. I could barely walk straight or say words. Unfortunately, because of construction and inconveniently placed train tracks, it was nearly impossible for our driver to get to us.
Our driver was directly on the other side of that train. And that train wasn’t going anywhere. Actually, it would go forward for a few feet. Then it would go backward for a few feet. Then it would hold still. I recalled from the Mission Impossible movie franchise that crawling through and over trains is a reasonable option in an emergency. Because we were in a hurry to get to Manifesto in time for our reservation, I suggested we do just that. Then I started humming the Mission Impossible theme song. Just when I had almost convinced our friends to crawl through a slowly moving train, our neighbor (the ER doc) warned us that most of the train vs person accidents she has seen end very poorly. Fair enough.
Miraculously, our driver eventually figured out how to get to us and we didn’t have to scale any trains. Fortunately he was also cognitively intact and not opposed to turning his head to the left when changing lanes. Hooray! We made it to Manifesto in time.
Manifesto is cool, but very dark. When you’re old like us, reading a tiny menu in a dark room is a little challenging. Say it with me, “presbyopia.” You may also have presbyopia if you start having a hard time shaving your underarms because the hairs are too blurry. At least that’s what a friend told me.
I think I ordered something called the Funky Bird. And I think it was pretty tasty. And then I ordered something else. And I recall that my second drink was good too. It may have been a shot….that I sipped on. That’s how I roll. Then an amazing medical student that I work with spotted me from across the room and came over to say hello. I’m hopeful that I said words in a coherent order that made sense. And I’m also hopeful that my coolness factor among medical students shot up exponentially having been spotted in a cool bar with cool people. Spread the word, friends. Spread the word.
My plan was to pay for our drinks because our amazing neighbors always have us over for dinner and drinks and I think we are probably indebted to them forever. Unfortunately my reflexes were a little delayed and the tab was taken care of before I realized it had even been delivered. Drat!
We left Manifest with full bellies, happy hearts…and still a little silly. We made it back to the suburbs in the safe hands of a third Lyft driver who delivered us to our neighbor’s house in the wee hours of the morning. At least it felt like the wee hours, but it was probably more like 11pm.
In an attempt to reimburse our neighbors for the drinks, I reached into my purse and threw a handful of cash on their kitchen counter before darting out their back door. Keep in mind that I probably could not have passed a sobriety test at this point. I thought I heard some protest against the strewing of the money, so I ran faster. My towering, closed toe wedges pounded the garden path between their house and ours. It was pitch black and as I ran I momentarily convinced myself that I was in the Blair Witch Project.
Alas, we made it to our back door and found my mom waiting for us. I tried to keep it together and hide my residual tipsiness but I failed. I was trying to tell her about our near-death ride to the distillery but I kept slurring my words.
“Mom…I think I’m slurring.”
She giggled as she reached out and hugged me, patting my back. “Yes, sweetie. You are.”
After she left, we stumbled upstairs and into our usual Friday night jammies and fell into bed…feeling just a little bit cooler.