Some days, I really miss other places I have lived. Mexican food, boardwalk days, and walks to The Caf in San Diego. Steve’s Pizza, a zillion parks, and Kings games in Sacramento. I missed Kansas City like crazy when I wasn’t here. There are a lot of things I miss about New York, but there is one specific thing that’s hitting me right now (and hits me every time I pay for a drink pretty much anywhere). I miss McGee’s.
When I got back to NYC for round 2 last summer, I took two of my old coworkers (and my crazy roommate) to McGee’s, which is the pub that MacLaren’s (How I Met Your Mother) is “modeled” after. We walked to the second floor bar, and Ari and I went to the bar to get drinks. Per usual, I am awkward at bars (or in any social situation), so I just handed the bartender my ID and looked around a bit. Then, the bartender did something completely unexpected. She shouted, “M-I-Z!” So, I answered her call with the natural response, “Z-O-U!” You can judge me if you want, but you don’t leave a fellow Missourian hanging.
Our bartender’s name was Michelle, and my first drink was free.
I didn’t go back to McGee’s for some time. When I did, I was seated on the first floor with my sister and my friend, not thinking to go check on Michelle. But I went back with my Ari friend one night to celebrate her one year anniversary at her job, and when I went up to buy her a shot, I said HI to Michelle. She remembered me. And she loved me. Drinks were free. She told me she wanted me to work at McGee’s, and to come the next night to say “hi” and speak with her boss. So I did. I got there the next night after a day out pounding the pavement and nailing interviews, and sat at the bar. Alone.
It was packed that night, and free drinks kept popping up in front of me. But they weren’t ordered by me, nor were they ordered by anyone else. Miss Michelle was bringing them. And she knew what I liked. The “Slutty Pumpkin” showed up several times, and her world-famous creamiscle was also in my lap more than once. And we talked between customers, she introduced me to friends, and I had a good time. I was at a bar. I was alone. But I was not alone at a bar. And I felt at home. Needless to say, her boss had a bit too much on his plate, so I didn’t get to speak with him.
I spent several night at McGee’s that week. Not because I don’t have friends–I do, and I saw them a lot–but because I was realizing that I was going to have to move home, and I needed a place to go that felt like home. Michelle was great with conversation, and we spoke about our mutual love for my state (she’s from Chicago but played basketball at Mizzou). We got close over just that handful of days, and McGee’s became “my place”.
I was even rushing in to see Michelle one night and recognized someone outside. I stopped and looked at him. He looked up from his cigarette, and we kind of smiled at each other. But I still wasn’t sure. And I had too much to talk to Michelle about, so I walked quickly up the stairs and he disappeared next to the bar. While I was with Michelle, I checked Twitter and I knew I was right. A band my sister and I love had just been in Times Square, so my guess could not have been wrong. Michelle validated my hypothesis when she said, “GUESS WHO IS DOWNSTAIRS?!” and I responded, “THE SCRIPT!!” Of course I was too pansy to go downstairs and get shots for the drummer birthday boy, but I also didn’t need to. It was one of my last nights in the city and it was good to relax upstairs.
I met some characters there. A guy that works at Budweiser, several of the waiters, a couple of women who didn’t share much about themselves, a guy with a troubled past and too many student loans, and sports fans abound. One guy I met hugged me when he met me… I think Michelle knew he did that, so she introduced us and laughed at my face while he hugged me. I don’t do hugs.
But I will say I can’t wait to go back to McGee’s next time I hit that city. Who knows if Michelle will still be there? She has a lot of big dreams and hopefully we can reconnect one day and talk about how successful we both are. But, for now, I have really fond memories of a really great place. And that’s what life is all about, right?
My dad still teases me about not taking a job at “the real MacLaren’s”. We’re HIMYM nuts. I guess I missed out.