Life in Schenectady can be an interesting journey.
And, depending on where you live, you can do a lot of it on foot.
If you live in the historic Stockade neighborhood, for example, Schenectady is very much a walkable community.
Take my weekend.
Friday night: Dirty martinis at the Stockade Inn where The Lee Shaw Trio was playing jazz. It was a Valentine’s Day party of sorts, and the music was appropriately romantic, which was fine with me. My favorite piece was the last song of the night — “You Don’t Know Me.”
Do you remember that record by mellow country crooner Eddie Arnold? (Oh, let me explain: Before there were CDs and music you could download to your iPod, music came on records.) Many a quarter went into the jukebox to coax Eddie to sing that song.
Friday was a fun night awash with interesting personalities: An immigration court judge up from the city, sipping shiraz and feasting on french fries which she assured me were very good; a member of Grannies for Peace with scarlet hair who, before she was distracted by a snifter of cognac, lectured us on the need to instill a love of reading in children; a collector of sports memorabilia who took our picture; a woman with a sly smile who knew things, like the truth about those mysterious flamingos that pop up around Lawrence the Indian every Valentine’s Day.
There was a lot of scintillating conversation. A woman came in and was pointed out as someone I should know. “And that’s her husband sitting past her.”
“Her husband is a pastor?”
“Not pastor, past her.”
We ate before we went back into the cold: shrimp cocktails, an ice cream confection and cappuccinos. I know, I know — not exactly a well-balanced meal.
The frigid air on the walk home was invigorating, and my glasses kept fogging up, but I didn’t mind.
Saturday night: This evening was a mitzvah. I had no plans and probably would have wrapped myself around the Winter Olympics on TV. Then a friend suggested we do something.
The snow was falling softly as we cut across the First Presbyterian Church parking lot, in and out of the shadows of an ancient brick portico, on our way to the Van Dyck, the storied jazz club.
The lyrics to a Dan Fogelberg song kept playing in my head. “Met my old lover at the grocery store … the snow was falling Christmas eve …”
We sipped dirty martinis — wait, is there a pattern here? — and talked easily, of loves lost and found, of music and musicians, of family and the future.
No jazz tonight. The room was crammed with mostly young people who erupted sporadically at the Olympics action on TV as they sipped beer and waited for enormous cheeseburgers. We talked with the McDonald cousins on the way out.
Sunday night: We’re going out to dinner. But, it’s Valentine’s Day, and we (I) didn’t plan ahead. I proposed a burrito place, just because they don’t require reservations. She wrinkled her nose.
We’ll figure it out.
I’m thinking this time we might have to take the car.
Irv Dean is the Gazette's city editor. Reach him by e-mail at [email protected]