Converted from paper version of the Broad Ripple Gazette (v04n07)
Beats from a Broad Ripple Rat - by Lisa Battiston
posted: Apr. 06, 2007
When I was in high school I co-founded the Teen Leadership Club - the anti-drug, anti-smoking, anti-drinking group (I was really, really popular. That's a joke - lighten up). You'd probably never have guessed it, considering all the articles I write about cigarette glorification and haphazard ramblings around the bars in Broad Ripple. But it's true. I used to glare at my parents' evening glass of wine, fake a cough at the smell of a cigarette at a concert, and do you smoke. . . Something else? Well. We can't hang out.
I know. I sucked. I was closed-minded and on some kind of high horse. But I went to college and, like most, my mind was opened to the wonders of different people with different lifestyles and different habits. I remained strong in my non-smoking/drinking way of thinking, but I basically came to think - to each his own.
And then I studied abroad in London.
Listen, I love Broad Ripple. A lot. But nothing compares to living in London.
London was like my Sodom and Gomorrah, but not intentionally. My feeling is that, when one studies in a different country, you're not just studying for your classes - you're studying the culture of that place for whatever extended period of time you're there. Even if you hate the whole experience, you learn something about yourself and the world around you. I will always highly recommend studying abroad to any student at a university.
So in London? I drank tea and visited the Tate Modern and took jogs around Hyde Park and rode the Tube everywhere and shopped in Camden. I also frequented my neighborhood pub. I developed a taste for beer. All of my pub bartender friends smoked, too, so, me? Well, I wanna be one of the cool kids, too, right? And having so vehemently denied and demonized the little white tubes of tobacco for so long. . . It was like indulging in the biggest temptation I could muster.
In any case, something happened last Sunday that hasn't occurred since I studied in London two years ago. I had started dating one of those bartenders in that pub. His name was Fabricio. He was from Brazil. He didn't speak very good English. But it kind of felt like I was living a romance novel, this Latin boyfriend in this European city. I spent many evenings drinking after hours at the Prince Alfred pub only to wake up the next morning, do some homework, and head back to the pub for a pint. Because a mid-day pint (or two or four) didn't seem to be about getting drunk - It was about hanging out with the rest of the people on your block at your local pub.
Last Sunday, I received a text message from my dear friend Craig (known in other circles as Craig Chaos). Craig has come to every Peggy Sues show. Craig always carries my bass amp for me. I think Craig is the best. So when he texted, asking if I'd like to go to the Alley Cat for a drink despite the fact that it was just past noon, I couldn't help but laugh and accept. The feeling was one I hadn't had since London - meeting in the local bar for a social drink mid-day for absolutely no reason. It was beautiful.
Craig and I chit-chatted for the better part of a few hours, me nursing my vodka and cokes, he drinking several Foster's. Before long, he was playing pool with a very cool girl whose name I've completely forgotten. We headed to Monon Coffee to check out Greg The Mayor's photography, only to find ourselves at the Egyptian for some gyros. He left me there with some work I had to do, a pot of tea in front of me, a cigarette resting in the ashtray. All of it felt like the things I'd do while I was abroad. All I could think about was how wonderful this was, that I'd had the very same experience in Broad Ripple that I'd had while abroad in London. I may have not had Fabricio to pour me my staple pint of Kronenburg at Prince Alfred's, but I had the Alley Cat.