Wine at $3.99


Ughhh…Nothing makes me feel as pessimistic about meeting my Divine Complement as going on a bad date. Today I feel like I may be single forever.

Why so awful? For starters, I didn’t even know it was a date. Call me naive but when single, American Peter (not his real name) texted about meeting on a Saturday night Casco Viejo, a revitalized area of Old Panama, I thought, “Sure!” I need to  see more of the City and could use a partner in crime.

So we agree to meet at Luna Castle Hostel’s popular bar. The Google review I read to find my way there says, “This was a decent hostel. Location was great other than the shady part right down the street where a guy was robbed and stuck with a knife.” Awesome.
I arrive and start to figure out where to park. It’s dark, I’m alone and I’m on my guard when a young man — I can’t see him well through my tinted car window — knocks on the door and at an intersection. He offers me parking. “Cuanto cuesta?” I ask, more thrilled for the help than frightened. “Cinco dolares,” he replies. Perfecto. I follow him the wrong way down a one-way street to a small lot where other cars are parked. Phew. Problem solved.I head a few blocks up the street and arrive on time to meet Peter who appears in the lobby with a bottle of wine. “Want to have a drink here before going out?” he asks. I’m one dressing drink into the night and take him up on his offer. We hang out chatting and I drink — not so much enjoy — his choice for the evening. Supermercado Riva Smith offers on-store tastings, which Andrew thinks are awesome. As he tries to open the bottle without first removing the foil I notice the label says $3.99. Peter has a lot more to learn about choosing wine.

We talk for a long while and then the conversation gets weird. Lots stories about his deceased mother, childhood strongsuits and his dislike for attorneys — one of my personal favorites — lead me to suggest a change of scenery. So we walk through the neighborhood and stop at a couple of other bars. One is particularly fun — and air conditioned! “Want to have a drink here?” I ask. “Um, no, I have that bottle of wine back at the place. That’s why I bought it so I wouldn’t have to get taken by these places. Sounds kind of cheap, I know.” My response — with a smile and a wink to ease the blow: “Yeah, that is pretty cheap.”

Needless to say, any chance Peter might have had — even after the repeated I-hate-attorneys-no-offense comments — have completely vanished. To be polite, I don’t split right away. I hang out and listen to a live band until I can claim being sleepy and go home.

Next time I’ll hit Casco Viejo with girlfriends. Life is too short for wine at $3.99.


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