Before hitting the bar, I decided to take my family out for ice cream and ended up getting, in addition to our mini-buckeye sundaes, a lesson in context.
As I walked towards my family while carrying our frozen treats, I saw, at the next picnic tables, one of my favorite former bartenders eating ice cream with her family. Now, I've lived in a small town long enough to be used to such encounters. For the most part, there is usually a twinge of two things colliding: an implosion of context and an awareness of the multi-faceted nature of personal life.
My mind, of course, immediately went to seeing the bartender tending (what else?) bar. I liked her a lot for her attitude. She is small and not incredibly imposing in looks, but, while on duty, she suffered no fools. I remember coming in with an undergrad friend who tried to order some undergraduate swill (most likely a Natty Light). Instead of bringing him one, the bartender brow-beat him into ordering something better. I remember one time deciding to branch out from my ten-plus year usual. She stared at me blankly for about three minutes, refusing to serve me, acknowledge my request, or do anything until I meekly backed down.
I used to get thrown when running into someone in a completely different context. I'd like to think I've overcome my preconceptions, though, and now just revel in the joy of seeing another side to someone in my life. This time, there was at least tangible progress on my part. I made no jokes about asking her for a beer. Nor did she, upon seeing this drunk blowing bubbles for and then chasing his daughter around picnic tables, make any comment about my beer choices.
So we got that going for us.