At the bar, I ask if they have Boodles gin. Boodles at Bond in Boston appeals to the alliteration whore I am, but no such luck. I settle for a Hendrick’s martini instead, very dry, with olives. A word on cocktail olives: they should always be firm, they should always be Queens, and they should always be served in threes. This one has all of the above, and if I am here for nothing more than this martini, then the journey has been worth it.
I don’t know why I had to be here. I don’t know what I’m supposed to find. I don’t know if there’s anything here for me to discover. I only know that I am. In this cavernous room, I observe the surroundings.
There is money here – literally – on the walls. Huge, blown-up prints of our US currency, such as it’s worth these days. So that’s the Bond of the namesake, not some British guy named James. Four large chandeliers dangle over the corners of the immense room, while an enormous one hangs directly in the center. Dripping with countless crystals, they sparkle against the dark ceiling like a starry night. A table of four is in the corner – they are the only other customers at this early hour. Meanwhile, five or six black-clad staff members seem designed to be a distraction, some trick of the Matrix.
The Hendrick’s was a good choice, and my cologne for the evening – Jean-Claude Ellena’s “Angeliques Sous La Pluie”, with its subtle hints of pepper, coriander and juniper – is the unintentionally-perfect partner for the martini in hand. For once I did not plan it that way.
Certain evenings demand a special fragrance, and it is my usual practice to ensure a good match. This one snuck up on me, yet it all worked out. When the universe conspires, we should go with the flow.
One of the bartenders sets a small bowl of crisps in front of me. I eye them warily, and don’t partake right away. I am enjoying the cocktail and the atmosphere, content to take it all in – a pause in the daily drudgery.
I notice the ‘Federal Reserve Bank of Boston’ medallion embedded in the floor in the very center of the room, beneath the glittering chandelier. There was once a vault here – somewhere. We are encased by stone walls, the former fortitude of a bank lending cold security and sinister elegance.
A pair of tourists in shorts and sneakers enters and settles into a couch in the lounge section. The dress code clearly is not in effect just yet. They order a Bloody Mary and a beer, but are too far away for me to catch any snippet of conversation.
A second martini materializes, made by a different bartender, but just as good. Tiny shards of ice float on its surface, bits of the chandelier’s light reflecting on tiny shimmering waves. Yet it feels like I am here for more than a martini. Never have I felt such a strong push to be somewhere. I’ve had places and circumstances that have been memorable and important – spots of sacredness – to which I return time and again to honor, to remember, to reveal. This is my first time here. It doesn’t make sense why there was such a striking force drawing me to this place. What am I meant to see?
Another couple enters and bellies up to the bar, ordering a Taj Mahal beer and a “Pinot Grigio or something light and white.”
What am I doing here? The bartender who set the chips down, Cameron, has returned with a squeeze bottle of something that looks like milk or cream. He offers me another martini, and says they have blue cheese olives if I’m interested, but I stay true to the traditional. He also asks if I’d like a glass of water, which I always assume to be the bartender’s friendly admonition, a nice way of saying, “Don’t get too fucked up, pal.” But there’s no worry of that. Three is my limit.
I feel that my time is running out, and the reason for my being here has yet to be explained. I was so sure something would come out of it, some clue to finally figure out the man I’ve become – a man on the verge of thirty-six and still so unsure of so many things.
The bartenders share some small talk and tell me I should come back later in the evening when the DJ arrives – that the place picks up then – but that is not what I am after. I have enjoyed the quiet, I have waited for what was never going to come, and I have no interest in dancing to a DJ tonight. One of them mentions Ogunquit and I recommend that he visits immediately, that it’s one of my favorite places in the world. A little more chatting and then it is time – to settle up and walk home.
There is nothing for me here.
There never was.Back to Blog