That first evening at Good World, aside from Mariana, the sweet, stunning, splendidly tattooed bartender, I was the only woman at the bar. There was a lot of catching up to do, since I hadn't seen most of that crew in ages. The one or two drinks I planned to have after work turned into four or five, and I left around eight, agreeably buzzed as I got back on the F train. It had felt like a homecoming. It had been a good evening. I was happy to be seen, and to see.
Within just a few weeks, I was there about every other night. I became a regular so quickly, so effortlessly, it felt like I was filling a space that had been left open for me. But more than any other bar where I'd spent lots of time, Good World felt actively, powerfully, predominantly male. More than any-where else, my femaleness stood out. "It's so nice to have a woman at the bar," Mariana said to me one evening, and one of the guys, who was sitting on the next stool, agreed.
I launched a campaign of sorts. One night, I asked my friend Alexandra to meet me there for a drink. She liked the place. Two evenings later, my friend Dina joined me. She liked it, too. The following weekend, I was sitting at the bar with another girlfriend. She, too, liked the place, the bartender, the lightness of the conversation, the ease with which everyone greeted everyone else, the uncomplicated fellowship.
But no matter how much any of my female friends enjoyed themselves at Good World, and they all did, none -- not a one -- seemed to have any desire to return the next night, or the next, or the next. Regularhood -- the thing that interested me most, the thing I had craved and missed, the singular condition of bar culture that confers both comfort and privilege -- held out to them no metaphysical allure, no sense of necessity. And this, I realized, set me apart as a woman who loves bars: the need to be known, to have a place of one's own, a place I could call my bar. Of course it was not my bar, not literally; it had owners; it was a business. But as a regular, one feels a sense of ownership; one is invested, if not financially, then in every other possible way.
Excerpted from DRINKING WITH MEN by Rosie Schaap by arrangement with Riverhead Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA), Inc., Copyright © 2013 by Rosie Schaap