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What if over-40s had a bar?

patty ryan
GRAND CENTRAL
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By PATTY RYAN, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published October 18, 2002


OUR QUEST begins late Friday at Samba Room. My friend Lauren Miller and I scan the crowd and notice the Noah's ark-like pairings of 20-somethings.

We could head to the Blue Martini, land of 17-inch waists, or just settle outright for bamboo sticks under the fingernails.

Theoretically: What would we name a club for single people over 40?

"Silicone Valley," I propose.

"The Botox Babes," she decides.

* * *

THINK of the possibilities.

Attendants in the restrooms with aerosol spray doses of Celexa and Viagra.

One stall for a therapist; another for touching up roots.

Open boxes of Neuhaus chocolates everywhere, as consolation prizes.

* * *

SUNDAY morning the idea grows over eggs Benedict at the Pink Flamingo. I sit across from neighbor Jamie Moore, who lingers in blissful 30s. She has met someone on the Internet site match.com. He appears to have only one head. Way to go, Jamie.

I deliver the news: On Saturday, I bought a chain saw.

She is impressed and suggests I tell others.

I have doubts.

We wonder together if men are threatened by women with chain saws, even those in the off position. I vow to stitch a lace coverlet for it, just in case.

* * *

FAST FORWARD to Tuesday at the Palm restaurant in WestShore Plaza.

Friday's conversation continues. What does our bar need?

"An instant divorce lawyer," suggests a man I recently met, who wishes to remain married and therefore guards his identity, while hinting for Lauren's phone number.

"And an instant minister."

* * *

HIS BEST idea: a booth that checks in wedding rings and checks out Harvard class rings to cover tan lines.

In the appetizer line, a TV guy's 40-something girlfriend sneaks in front of us. I ponder asking her about bars for people over 65, just for fun.

* * *

I AM at the Palm because my caricature has been added to the wall, a publicity ploy that, at this writing, appears to have worked. I am invited to sign it. In my haste, I forget to ask: Would a phone number be appropriate?

Perhaps I will devote my life to stitching an entire line of fall clothing for the chain saw. If only Paul Bunyan were alive and over 40.

* * *

WE STROLL around the restaurant and toss the question to others.

"The bartender should remember my name and what I drink and forget everything else," says Michael Kilgore, 50.

What would others put in a bar for people over 40?

"People under 40," says Leon Mezrah, financier.

* * *

CAMILLE Roberts joins in. She'd like dark wood, leather decor, fine wine and good service. She's a fan of bars at Fleming's, Bonefish, the Palm, Bern's and Sidebern's.

Terry Haynes wants a place full of well-read, intelligent people. She'd like fine wine, premium liquor and good jazz.

"I would love to have a place to meet people like me," she says.

She knows Leon from business. She does mergers and acquisitions.

Mergers & Acquisitions.

Nice name for a bar, don't you think?

-- Tampa's Kennedy Boulevard was once called Grand Central. Now Grand Central is a weekly City Times column. Writer Patty Ryan can be reached at 226-3382 or pryan@sptimes.com.

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