Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Wilbo Learns to Be More European by Drinking Wine at the Outdoor Cafes of Grand Haven @PureMichigan.

The Europeans figured it out centuries ago. Put tables out on the sidewalk and let people enjoy dinner and wine al fresco, in the open air. This idea has taken decades to become popular in Michigan. I have little idea why it has taken so long. It required almost three decades for cafe tables to appear on Muskegon's Western Boulevard, now a Paris of Muskegon County with five choices for La Dolce Vita and dinner outside. These caf├ęs light up the street life in Downtown Muskegon, no longer a place where the sidewalks roll up at dark.

I waited tables as a young man on Grand River Avenue, waiting tables for a cafe called Bunches. The Peanut Barrel next door had an outdoor cafe too. My professors would come and drink wine at Bunches outdoors and my fellow literary students would go drink beer outside at Peanut Barrel. One of my professors came in daily after his summer classes and talked philosophy, not a single idea I have found efficacious. For example, he pointed at the slate roof of Berkley Hall and exclaimed, "Making a million dollars is as easy as falling off the roof." Maybe he meant that metaphorically, the idea one had to get up high and take a big risk? He also regaled me with stories of singing waiters in Italy, advising me to learn a few arias to up my tip money. I never quite followed up on that advice either. Yet, I followed his advice of celebrating life in the outdoor cafe. That's where my evening passes tonight on Washington Boulevard in that Lake Michigan resort town, Grand Haven. There's also a number of decks commanding a view of the Grand River. I'm more interested in the flow of people today than the passing of boats.

There's a tall statue of a walking man. A young toddler, at most one, has used it several times to pull herself up. Enjoying her mother's applause, she's celebrated each successful stand by slapping on the Cherry wood legs of the sculpture, entitled "Abstract Pedestrian". A friend sculpted this work, a commission for one of the families who made good transporting building materials on Spring Lake in the steamship era. On a good night, the theater of the street cafe makes a night at the movies seem less than fresh.

I do text people to meet me here or there. People text me to meet here or there. With a place on the street, I am unrequired to text or receive text. Friends find me here and stop for a chat. If desired, an open seat awaits and the waiter arrives for an order. I've passed an hour here and three conversations have come and gone. Most want to talk about my role as a character in a recent play by the Central Park Players, and I do mean character. His named is, was and ever will be Rufus. Called Midsummer Jersey, a take on Shakespeare's Midsummer's Night Dream, I give them a few Rufus impersonations in my faux Jersey accent, somewhere between Tony Soprano and Joe Piscopo. "Life is sweet on da Grand Haven Shore"! Here's better. "Your mother wanted you close to the Grand Haven shore for as long as possible ....
 — at Dee-Lite Bar & Grill.

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