Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Rhett! Rhett, where are you going?

I am absolutely positive the technology exists that would allow me to work remotely from here and that I never, ever plan to leave. Even on this gray and sulky day where the sky is spitting drizzly drops of precipitation on me as I attempt to window shop on King St, I am in l-o-v-e with this city.

Matt and I came down to Charleston last night for his 2nd to last interview, and we are both just enthralled with this city. Last night we ditched the school sanctioned dinner (if you read this, probably not a surprise) in exchange for a date night/bar crawl of our own. Jason, having recently visited Charleston, had directed us to a seafood restaurant that turned out to be mere yards from our lovely hotel. On our way down, he had texted us to visit the bartender when we got there and pick up a mysterious something. A gift certificate awaited us and we enjoyed a most scrumptious meal - spicy and hearty Bloody Mary's, an appetizer of grit cakes with a light garlic alfredo sauce, and cajun sauteed shrimp - calories don't count on vacation right? Yum. Our experience was capped off with a visit from Maiar Hyman, who according to the history lesson on my menu, is the 3rd generation of Hyman's to run the restaurant. (Gen #5 is currently in charge.) Maiar regaled us with stories of his days in Winston-Salem immediately following the Korean War, and how he was a big timer textile salesman once clinching a deal with the now-Sara-Lee owned Hanes brand.

Delicious Bloody Mary's with Absolut Peppar... Yum!

After our feast, we wobbled on to the streets and looked for somewhere to take shelter from the drizzle. Our prerequisites were simple: other patrons present and live music. While this may sound innocent enough, keep in mind it was only 8:30 pm on a Tuesday, in December. Not exactly the High Season. We wandered into one bar on Vendue St called The Griffon, where 2 other tables were filled with patrons, and a guy with a guitar crooned acoustic versions of Smashing Pumpkins, Eagles and Elliott Smith with an alarmingly similarity. After two rounds of hearing the same wailing on repeat and watching the same drunk girl in ugg boots and a jean skirt heave herself at any present male patronage, we paid our tab and left. Music and boisterous voices lured us into a bar called Mad River that inhabited a former church across from the Market. Something about the half-hearted attempt at rugged outdoor decor (the canoe hanging from the ceiling), the overly cheesy party music (Paradise City when you're sober? Nope) and the presence of what appeared to be an intramural sports team celebrating a season win reminded me of some other place I had frequented. It wasn't until I got home that I put it together: the same bar (decor, music and patrons) was just 4 1/2 blocks from my apartment in Baltimore and I had spent many a Friday nights elbow-deep at Mad River.

After a round at Mad River, we wandered up East Bay St for a lap before succumbing to Wet Willies, a bar with every known daiquiri flavor to man featured in slushie machines on a wall 25 yards long. Matt sampled the "Attitude Adjustment" - a suspicious recommendation from the waitress - while I sipped a Bud Light. Sugar and alcohol don't mix well in my system, and a 5-alarm slurpee is a guaranteed way to ruin my next morning. What really kept us at Wet Willie's though was the entertainment. Six guests rotated through song after song on Karaoke, while the other dozen or so patrons gazed on in shocked amusement, egged on in barely concealed faux encouragement and took secret video footage (me). It was like being at a live American Idol audition, and hearing many of my very favorite songs completely ruined!

The Wall o' Wonder @ Wet Willies

After a dozen ear-splitting performances, we pushed aside the half-finished daiquiri and called it a night. What a Tuesday night it was - from low key mellow bar performance, to pulsating party music, to heart wrenching karaoke, we experienced the finest that Charleston's musical scene had to offer. However, we both agreed neither the rain or melodically challenged performances put a damper on the beautiful backdrop of Charleston.

This morning, we did a driving tour of Charleston and oogled out the window like a proper tourist at the gorgeous scenery on East Bay St. Had it not been raining, I would have insisted on a proper parking so I could shutterbug to my heart content. However, I melt in the rain, in case you didn't know, so a drive-by sufficed for me. After dropping him off at MUSC to interview, I did some half-hearted window shopping on King St. Oh, Economy! Truth be told, I am out of my element in any location that has a real live Louis Vuitton store and no Forever 21 or Target as far as the eye can see.

In an hour, I will meet my gorgeous friend Mikell who I scrambled all around the beautiful pais de Espana with nearly six years ago. The last time I saw her, we bid adios in the Madrid airport, but with the help of facebook I have tracked her wanderlust as she's moved from Costa Rica to Seattle to Peru to Columbia and now to Charleston. I'm hoping to convince her she needs a live-in nutritionist and should clear some room for Matt and I to take up permanent residence in her probably-non-existent spare bedroom. After lunch and some more wandering, I'll pick up the student doctor and north bound we shall be headed, bidding Charleston a sad farewell.

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