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The Blah Blah Lounge

by Mimi O'Connor

If you've lost your faith in romance -- pure, unadulterated, kick-you-in-the-pants, "I-thought-that stuff-only-existed-in-the-movies" romance -- you could stay at home and listen to Ella Fitzgerald sing George Gershwin tunes all night. On the other hand, perhaps it's time to get out of the house. In Park Slope, Brooklyn, there's a place to go.

The Blah Blah Lounge, this neighborhood's answer to the lounge phenomenon, is invitingly low-key, with live musical offerings ranging from mellow jazz to groovy Hawaiian, warm lighting provided by marble chandeliers, a fireplace filled with candles, and plenty of stuffed chairs and sofas perfect for (you guessed it) lounging. Go alone and peruse one of the many magazines left out for patrons, go with a date and slowly chip away at that distance on the couch between the two of you, or head there with a group of friends and sample the impressive arsenal of spirits The Blah Blah Lounge has assembled.

Like the decor of this hangout, the first page of its menu puts one at ease. With the heading, "Wine 101," customers are addressed, "What if you don't know 'nuttin about wine' but want to venture forth into this secret subculture? Where do you start? Let us lend some help. Don't drink bad stuff." From that point on, a friendly, written tour (which, for the overwhelmed or just plain lazy also notes "Blah Blah favorites") guides patrons through the red, white and dessert wines, Porters, Lambics, Ales and "sparklers" available for the sampling. Not sure what drink will complement that Thai-spiced skewered shrimp or the vegetable, potato and currant empanadas? Not to worry, they have more than a few suggestions.

And about that romance. Check your cynicism at the door, head to the raised row of tables illuminated from below in the rear, pull up a stool and start to read. Displayed beneath the glass tabletops are dozens of love letters--not from many different lovers, but from one, "Jim," to the much-adored "Claire." Upon first reading, it is difficult to believe these things are for real. Dating from 1952 and written on the letterhead of the now defunct Sussex Magazine, Jim writes with the passion, devotion and flat-out corniness that only true slap-you-up-side-the-head love can provoke. One envelope, inscribed with Claire's name, is surrounded by the words "tender," "lovely," "shy," "sweet," and (let's not forget) "gorgeous." Dip in at any point of a letter and find thoughts such as "I wonder if you realize just how much I care for you," "The touch of your hand, the feel of your sweet face next to mine, the light in your big blue eyes..." and "Remember, Sugar, you belong to me, and I belong to you--please let nothing happen to our love. There will never be another love like ours for either of us." This guy was just stupid in love and wasn't afraid to say it.

Aside from good wine and eats, it would appear that the Blah Blah Lounge also houses a touching reminder of what true love can inspire. No doubt, someday, in you.

The Blah Blah Lounge
501 11th Street between 7th and 8th Avenue
Wednesday-Sunday 6pm-2am
(718) 369-BLAH
For mailing list, click here.

Mimi O'Connor has written many love letters, but has yet to send one.

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