I really could not decide on the better post title to aptly describe the blogger dinner I went to Saturday night, so I used them both, probably creating the world's longest blog post title! Considering this is going to be a long post, it kind of makes sense.
So here is how it went, blow by blow (get your popcorn ready):
Brian thought with the nearly always awful traffic on the Parkway East combined with a Pirates game and a closed exit that I should leave at 4:30 for the 6 p.m. dinner. I figured that 4:45 would be safe. In reality, even with a traffic backup at the North Shore, I was driving past the restaurant at 5:20. Unfortunately, the restaurant is BYOB and does not have a bar, so I had a dilemma. After driving around for six or seven minutes, I noticed a bar a block or two up the street, so I parked near it. As I was walking to the bar, I thought back to a time in '94 or '95 when I walked into a bar near the campus of IUP one weekday afternoon. I had hoped and assumed that some guy would buy me a drink. I was not disappointed. Fast-forward 17 or 18 years when I am a married parent, and I was kind of hoping the same thing. At 40, sometimes you want to think you still have it. Or at least some of it. Whatever it is.)
I took a deep breath, walked into this dive of a loud place, and ordered a beer. As the bartender handed it to me, he said something about Paul doing something. When the bartender walked away without asking me for any money, I assumed some guy named Paul bought me a beer. After another minute, a guy sitting near me pulled a stool over for me, and I thanked him. About 10 minutes later, the same guy introduced himself as Paul, asked me what I was doing here, and said he wanted to buy everyone a drink. Paul then explained he knows the owner of La Tavolla and asked that I tell the owner hi.
I watched some of the Pirates game (how 'bout them Buccos?!) and drank about 2/3 of my beer when I noticed a guy down at the end of the bar motion towards me as he talked to the bartender. A few seconds later, the bartender handed me a drink chip, courtesy of Gavin. As one who hardly drinks, having a second drink in the same half hour would be challenging, but I would have felt bad leaving the drink chip there, so I took one for the team. A few minutes after 6, I went down to Gavin to thank him, and he too told me to tell someone at La Tavolla hi. Both Paul and Gavin suggested I get some libations to go, but I was all set there, and then they both suggested that I bring the group back afterwards. As I walked out the place into the blazing hot sun, I decided walking was a good choice.
Upon entering the restaurant, I noticed a long table, and figured that had to be our group. I introduced myself to several bloggers, and I explained that I accidentally had two drinks, so I was unsure how I would remember anyone's name. Within a few minutes, I saw Bluz from Darwinfish walk in so I went up to him (fortunately Bluz posts pictures of himself on his blog). And within another minute or so, I got to meet Carpetbagger and his lovely wife. Not much after that, I decided to sit down, and I ended up next to Bluz, his friend Kelly (who recently started a blog) and her sister, and I was across from Carpetbagger and his wife. There were four empty seats next to me, so I figured I would get to talk to Red Pen Mama, whose blog I also read, and/or this couple who used to write a blog. Unfortunately, those people were unable to make it. But I had plenty of elbow room on the right side!
Throughout the evening, I talked to Bagger's wife the most; she is really interesting and said she hopes to do a 500-mile hike in Spain. I explained to that group how the name Facie came about, and Bluz talked about his handle. We talked about blog posts, blogging, pets, jobs, the Pirates, and a little about Sandusky, among other things. Politics never even came up, but I would have been okay if they had. Admittedly, the first 30 minutes was a bit of a haze, but the conversation pretty much kept flowing the entire time.
After my delicious dinner of pasta with vodka sauce (it was so good, I decided it deserved to be bold-faced) was consumed, Ginny from That's Church walked in with her two kids. I am always impressed with her recall ability. When I introduced myself to her last summer at a Kate and Peter's treehouse meeting, she remembered me as the person who emailed her about Amy from Callapitter. Now, one year later, she sees me and still remembers me. I did not talk to her a lot (Bluz pretty much hogged her!), but I did spend about 10 minutes talking to her elementary-aged son, who managed to detail every infraction and resulting punishment involving his fellow classmates (and some older kids for good measure), whether it was in the classroom, the cafeteria, or the bus. I was surprised he was so chatty considering the third thing I asked him (after the typical name and grade question) was what is 8 x 8. Ginny left a bit later, after pretty much dragging her kid out of there, and mouthed a thank you to me.
The remaining people there talked about going to Station Square for a drink or two. I bowed out, since my two drinks from earlier were safely out of my system and I wanted to keep it that way, and I said my good byes. The only downside of the evening was that I did not get to talk to everyone. I wish I had gotten up and spent some time with the ladies from Sisters from Different Misters, Leelafish, and Running on Wine, down at the other end of the table. About a week before the dinner, I did check out their sites. That evening I learned that Leelafish, who had come all the way from Louisiana, met one of the other ladies (I forget who!) via their blogs and became really good friends. In fact, Leelafish was actually staying with them while in Pittsburgh. How cool is that?!
Next time I hope we end up someplace with a giant round table (because so many restaurants have round tables that can seat over 20 people). Or it might just be nice if I took it upon myself to really talk to everyone. I guess not really knowing the others was a bit too intimidating for me (had they been seated next to me, I am sure I would have been fine).
Oh, and about the first half of my title post. That was a saying above one of the doorways in the restaurants. Bluz said he was going to snap a picture before he left. You will have to check out his site probably tomorrow (he is in the Burgh until today) if you are interested in more details of the evening as well as some pictures. Regardless, that saying was pretty appropriate for the evening for me, since I came in having never met anyone and left feeling as if some of these people had been my friends for years. But thanks to blogging, in a way they really have been. :-)