It’s been a beast of a week. After locking up your office, you’ve bundled yourself against the cold.
Clutching your coat tight around your chest, you make your way home, grumbling about the piles from yesterday’s snowfall and how the city’s grime has already turned winter white into a dull gray.
If there could be any good fortune on a night like this, it’s that the buildings on the cross street are blocking the winter wind. The wind, you realize, is just a few yards away, waiting for you to turn the corner.
You’ve reached the end of the street and it’s time to walk uptown. You brace yourself, but it doesn’t do any good. The northwest wind slaps you full across the face, squeezing frozen tears from your eyes. You worry that it’s not just nipping at your nose, but gripping it and ripping it, as well.
Stray pages of some newspaper become wrapped around your legs, as you lean into winter, hunching up your shoulders and sinking in your neck, a gloved hand pressing your scarf to your nose and mouth. You’re thinking you need an oasis — a bit of warmth in this frozen urban land.
And there it is, sitting in the shadows between the glow of two streetlights. You’ve walked this route hundreds of time and can’t recall seeing this place, now decorated with a string of colored lights and a wreath.
You step inside to a muted interior and all at once you’re in 2013 and 1953. The coat check girl, platinum hair swept up in a retro ‘do and tattooed shoulders above a glittery red dress with white faux fur trim, smiles at you with painted red lips. As she takes your coat, she says, “Why, you’re just in time for the first act.”
It takes a few seconds for your eyes to adjust to the dark and smoky interior, to take in the assorted souls at the bar and seated at small tables close to the stage. You find a place and ask for a drink.
The band steps out, and the first notes sound familiar — a carol performed by so many. A woman steps up to the microphone — and very soon, her voice is as warm and velvety and soothing as the amber liquid in your glass.