Brandon Gilyard, Mechanical Engineer at AAR Mobility Systems, on good wine and good conversation.

I meet my good friend, Charlie, at Hermann’s European Café downtown. The evening is young, the weather brisk, yet unusually warm for the season.

We order drinks at the bar, our favorite skilled bartender telling us she’ll bring them over quickly.

I ask, “Over where?”

Charlie directs me to the delicatessen, conveniently located away from those enjoying their red wine and Chicken Piccata. There’s a grand table to my immediate left, bottles of wine neatly stored in cellars backed against the wall.

Charlie’s paintings, fairly-priced pieces capturing the dramatic spilling of what may be Cabernet Franc from its glass, hang on the wall, the canvases varying from 11” X 17” to a mammoth-sized and eight-foot square. We sit among other individuals whom I’ve never met before.

I speak with a woman who familiarizes me with the Bear Claw Epic Mountain Bike Race: a momentous and adventurous time to bike down the familiar Cadillac Pathways. I send a text message to my co-worker, Andrea, who knows of the race, and advises me to “DO IT!” I add another event to my list that I may look forward to and continue talking with others at what I now dub The Wine Table.

I talk with another woman, who explains the rigors and rewards of her career in social work, the conversation tantalizing. Throughout the remainder of the evening, we all laugh, knowing that this can’t last forever; we have work in the morning.

We bid each other farewell, promising to keep in touch.

The elation I feel having met new people thrills me, and I cannot get rid of my smile. I come to realize the idea of communing with strangers, and being received well surely gets a stamp of approval in my book.

The Wine Table is a hot spot, and I know I can return for new connections and good conversation at any time.