The only thing that rivals the enjoyment of reading the thoughts and watching the interaction of Ricochet people on this site is watching it all unfold in real time. So it was wonderful last night, when Casey Taylor and his delightful wife gave me a ride to Speakeasy, in picturesque downtown Athens, GA for a Ricochet meet up. Once there, we first met Ricochet member Aimee Jones, who was kind enough to orchestrate the festivities. David Foster was there, having flown in (literally, he flew his own plane) from Maryland. And in short order, two other Ricochet members arrived from Knoxville (properly pronounced, it's "kuh-noxville"). Since they use different on-screen names, I'll refrain using their real names, which I remember. And since I can't remember their on-screen names, I won't mention those either. How's that for efficiency?
The conversation rolled gently from one topic to the next, from our respective vocations to military subjects, from freelance journalism to politics. We batted about the electability of each of the candidates, we dissected the strong and weak points of the field, and were just getting around to solving world hunger when a kind young lady came to take our order. As impressive as the food was, the general atmosphere of our little gathering was even more so. We would divide into small conversations of two or three people, only to spontaneously reunite with a topic of interest to the whole gathering. Evidently, time got away from us because in due course our greeter politely informed us that others were waiting for our table, we having been deep in conversation for a few hours.
So we went scouting for another venue. The name of the bar escapes me, but the waitress at the restaurant politely said that it catered to an "older" crowd. Good thing my hearing isn't very good and Aimee told me what was said after the waitress departed, or else I could have summoned at least a measure of indignity. The bill paid, the college crowd parted ways so we could hobble over to an "older" scene. I can't remember the name of the place, but the crowd seemed typical of all the other places in downtown Athens. The University of Georgia is right smack in the middle of town, so this is a college crowd.
Having grown accustomed to truck stop people for the last few years, I must confess that the university youngsters were a bit alien to me. I gathered that they must be very smart because they were a well behaved lot and their hair was lopsided. I gather that this is a serious statement of some sort. The idea is to have one half of your head neatly groomed, hair either above the ear or just touching it while on the other half your hair drapes down to your collar. Some old Clark Kent glasses complete the picture, and presto, you're smart.
The supposed senior citizens' home to which we were directed was very popular with the university set. So popular in fact, that there were no tables for us to rest our bones, though there was a staircase. Climbing to the loft, we found a quiet room with a small gathering of lopsided people. One particularly outgoing young man welcomed us, bid us have a seat and told us there would be music soon. Excellent! A few of us guys took drink orders and proceeded downstairs to round up some refreshments. Then the conversation picked up where it had left off. Soon the guys were conducting a seminar on firearms. I'm particularly infatuated with the Taurus Judge, and Casey was interested in the Mosin Naguant. We were discussing the evolution of the Castle Doctrine when Aimee chuckled and informed us that we were most certainly freaking out the assorted liberals that were undoubtedly all around us.
A skinny guy with a flannel shirt and a guitar took to the little stage and started performing. This was our music, and it was loud enough to drown out the conversation. He was pretty good actually, though I couldn't make out a single word he sang notwithstanding the volume level, which would have been loud enough to loosen my dentures if I had any. Occasionally he would take a break from singing and strum his guitar vigorously while hopping on one foot. But he was sincere, the crowd regarded him somberly, and so I was suitably impressed.
In time, a large table opened downstairs, so we reassembled there and talked until the wee hours. I don't think we left a subject untouched or unsolved. As midnight approached, fatigue took its toll and we had to call it a night. What a wonderful group of people! You know, when Peter and Rob first talked to me about Ricochet, they explained that it would be different from other blog sites that dot the internet landscape. What I've seen, and what I'm not sure that even its founders could have anticipated, is the sense of community here. Sure, we have our differences, but we are on the "right" side of the equation and we are united not only by our passion for our country, but by a growing sense of friendship and community with each other. Back when my Dad was diagnosed with Alzheimer's, Peter encouraged me to write a post about it here, confident that you good people would reach out. And I must say, he was so very right. These meet ups, and the warm bonhomie that characterizes them, stand as testament to the character of people that make up our community. It is truly a pleasure getting to know you all.