Steven (unzeugmatic) wrote,

Where Everybody Knows Your Name

beth910 is in town for a week for the annual STC conference. STC is the Society for Technical Communications, which should be the professional organization for me and thus the conference of most relevance, but I have always found that professional associations and conferences of system administrators (the audience for which I write) are of significantly more value in countless ways -- including, perhaps counterintuitively, actual job-connections -- than the parallel organizations focused around technical writing.

Interestingly, I know beth910 from the Usenix LISA conferences, where mizmoose has introduced her around to the wacky technogeeks I hang with there. But Beth's current work at the Pittsburgh Supercomputer Center has her working as a technical writer, so her management felt it couldn't justify sending her to a system administrator conference at this point. In that her bosses are a thousand percent wrong in terms of what would help her at her job, but Beth seems to be finding many things of interest at the STC conference.

When I found out Beth would be in town I invited her to join me at the Eagle for beer bust and showtunes after her Sunday seminar. From what I knew of Beth I was pretty sure she'd enjoy this, and I did my best to let her know what it would be like, but a part of me was a little concerned about how this would feel for her. Also, Beth is very young and petite and blonde and pretty, and I knew that this would attract a lot of attention. I couldn't be sure if this was going to be weird attention or not.

As it turned out I had absolutely nothing to worry about.

I told the guy at the door that I was expecting a friend from out of town, whom I described as a young pretty blonde straightgirl. Yes, I know the "straightgirl" thing is problematic, but it was meant to be shorthand for "somebody who looks like they might not be at the right place." The guy at the door said, "What's her name?" I told him Elizabeth, and he said "No problem." When Beth arrived -- quite evidently the young blonde woman I had been speaking of -- he said, "Are you Elizabeth?". This freaked her out some, but he went on to tell her where I was and to welcome her to the Eagle. Apparently he didn't even card her. (As she herself puts it, she looks about 12, and she always gets carded.)

They weren't feeding Beth at the conference (it was definitely not a LISA conference), so I ordered her a hamburger from the super-friendly bartender Patrick (it turned out to be very good). When I introduced her as my "friend from out of town", he comped her a "Welcome to the Eagle" drink -- which he'd done as well when ocelot_flavored was in town. When I went back a little later for a refill on my beer he asked whether they had found Elizabeth to deliver her food -- remembering her name! This guy is good.

While we were eating, perkk (who shows up at the Eagle once in a great while) came by to say goodbye to me and to meet my friend (I had told him earlier that I was expecting somebody), and he wound up staying for a while talking technogeekery with Beth (security and virus issues, which is what he does). Other bar staffers came by to chat while we ate, full of friendliness and fun.

When Beth finished dinner, we walked around and met a few other folks. We went to the corner of the back porch where my gossipy friends hang out, and I was greeted with, "Who's this, Steven -- your daughter?" Which is kind of funny, because Beth actually is a likely age for a child of mine, which of course I had not previously thought about at all. Everyone made a big fuss over her.

Then we went into the Bolt and watched the videos. It was not a very crowded night, but the folks there were in happy semi-drunken singing and dancing moods, and Beth just loved it. As I knew would be the case, Beth was very much noticed. Which meant that a couple of different times some drunken guys I don't know came up to tell her how beautiful she was. Which is odd, but non-threatening in this context. In any case, Beth was not bothered by this. She pointed out to me that in her regular life people don't come up to her and say that.

We stayed later than I usually do (a little past nine) and then I dropped Beth off back at the hotel. Tonight she's meeting up with my Morris dance team when we dance out around Lake Calhoun -- where she will also be greeted with great friendly fuss, but of a different nature.

It's happened in the past that I've taken friends from out of town to the Eagle when I have told folks in advance -- both staff and some of the other regulars -- that I was planning this. This has always resulted in people making a nice fuss over my guest, and perhaps being more effusive and friendly to me than is standard. This is good. This feels right. This doesn't feel at all like any sense of gay bar I ever used to have.
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