I am unfortunately good at awkward moments. If you’d like to have the experience of getting along fairly well, and then suddenly something happens resulting in us not talking for months on end because it’s just too weird – I’m your man. I don’t know quite where this comes from, but like most of the personality quirks I’d like to get rid of, I’m guessing I picked it up from my father (don’t read that as harshly as it sounds, he would tell you the same thing, and I’ve learned many good things from him too). But even my awkwardness was no match for a woman I met last weekend in Greenwood Village.
A professor I had at CSU many moons ago told me that Greenwood Village was intentionally designed in a confusing way so as to discourage outsiders from ever returning – they certainly achieved their goals. Thirty seconds after entering, all hope of going back out the way I came in had been lost, and it only took another five minutes before the feeling that I was just going to have to give up and start a new life here had set in. I had come to this place to watch a Green Day concert, and because it had been a somewhat spontaneous decision, I had to come down a few hours early so that I wouldn’t have to fight through the will call line and the admission line. Finding myself with 90 minutes to kill, and not having eaten anything so far that day, I thought I would take advantage of the Greenwood Village Plaza and find something to eat before the gig. Another twenty minutes of driving in circles ensued, and I finally found the area I was looking for, two blocks away from where I’d started.
Judging from the signs, I had expected Greenwood Village Plaza to be this area’s equivalent of Centerra, and it was, with one exception – Centerra usually comes with people. As far as I could tell, on this sunny Saturday afternoon, only two other people were wandering the streets of Greenwood Village Plaza. It felt eerie, as though there had been a bomb scare, and we had somehow not heard the news. Or perhaps the entire area wasn’t open to the public yet, and those two others I saw walking about were just beta testing the complex. I found an Irish pub which looked like it would satisfy my pre-gig burger and beer needs, and cautiously went inside. I say cautiously, because there didn’t appear to be anybody in there, either. Just as I turned around to leave, a man sprang up from behind the bar and told me to sit wherever I wanted, before disappearing underneath the bar again. I was beginning to suspect I was interrupting the trials for the USA Olympic Hide-and-Seek team.
After sitting at a table for a very long few minutes, a server approached, and I was willing to give her the benefit of the doubt, but she was insistent on making this as uncomfortable as possible. She came to the table and just stood and stared for what felt like about fifteen minutes, but in reality was probably almost a second. And rather than “what can I get you?” or the equivalent, her chosen opening line was “you’re going to the Green Day show.” Not a question, just a statement of fact. I asked what made her think that, and was told it was “the way I was dressed.” At this point it’s worth pointing out I wasn’t wearing thick black eyeliner and red and black striped pants. No, it was my blue jeans and button-down short sleeved white shirt that gave me away. I looked like a construction worker’s idea of “business casual,” but to this server, that said “Green Day Fan.” Fair enough. I hope her theories on what people look like are equally skewed in every direction, so that if someone does go in wearing a fedora, skinny jeans, and a black spiky belt, they’re greeted with “are you here to fix the blocked toilet?”
After that exchange, she returned to staring awkwardly at me, so I asked for a 90 Shilling, half out of thirst and half because I couldn’t think of anything else to say. She left and went over to the bar, and rather than getting a beer, had a very long conversation with the barman. I only really came in here to waste time before the gig, so you would think that I wouldn’t mind that she’s taking her time bringing my drink… but don’t be fooled, I found that highly annoying for some reason. Eventually she brought it over, taking care to fill it too full and then spill a bit on the table when putting it down. I decided now would be a good time to order food, but she disappeared before I could open my mouth. It was at this point that I realized she also hadn’t brought me a menu, which meant I couldn’t loudly close it and slam it down on the table, in that way you do to signal “I’ve decided what I’d like to eat.”
Having decided against food, the server appeared again, and very aggressively said “aren’t you going to order any food?!” I then apologized (I’m English, I apologize to inanimate objects if I bump into them), and asked for a burger. The rest of the encounter went pretty much as you’d expect – it took forever and then tasted awful – but she didn’t engage in another staring contest or blurt out anything strange, so I suppose it was a win. Searching for a suitably surreal way to end this experience, I tipped about 40%, to ensure that she understood how much I appreciated this level of service and hoped she would bless other customers with the same delightful manner. Time I walked into this joint: 4:30pm. Time I left: 6:15pm. “Longest, most awkward mid-afternoon meal” is too dull to make the Guinness Book of Records, but I’d like to think I won, anyway.