If you ask for “The Joan” at The Riddler down in Hayes Valley, on the corner of Laguna and Linden, they’ll fill your wine glass up to the damn top. I mean, to the tip-top. I mean, so tip top that you’ll gasp a little as they finish off the pour. I love watching people order their first Joan. It is a strange pleasure of mine. It’s hilarious, really. Juvenile. Gets me every time.
Let’s just put it this way: I’ve ordered many Joans. Admittedly, Joans are not a celebratory drink for me. It’s never, “I just got a raise, pour me a goddamn Joan!” Hardly ever, “That first date went swimmingly—Joan me up, barkeep!” Oh, I wish. Usually it’s, “This week has hamstrung me to within an inch of my life.” Or, “I’m twenty-four and a failure, pour one out for all my hopes and dreams.”
I’m really good at being dramatic. The Joan is the perfect libation to complement my extremism, my histrionics, while doing so.
Our generation has a lot more to keep up with in the vein of appearances than any generation before. We’re all marketers. Whether you’re an analyst, software developer, finance consultant, engineer, recruiter, dog walker, designer, you name it—you’re also a marketer. A brand specialist in the brand that is you. We do it on LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter. We do it on our dating profiles and job applications. We brand and we market. We sell. It takes up a lot of time, if you let it. Like many of the most dangerous things in life, it is fun and distracting. It’s a catwalk; on one side is the land of perfectly-curated self promotion. On the other, the abyss of taking oneself much too seriously.
So there’s this brand. Which is composed of the better parts of us. The aspects of ourselves we shuffle into the best lighting before showing off to society at large. There’s also the demolition zone—the rough draft, if you will. The canyon of our personality into which we shove everything else, parceling it out warily only when we know someone cares for us enough to handle it. In this catch-all comprised of the rest of us, you’ll find all sorts of gems. Endearing stories of failure rather than skillfully-crafted tales of triumph. Self-deprecating anecdotes. Embarrassing restaurant recommendations. Dive bars and holes in the wall. Dreams we shelved years ago, but take out at night to admire or weep with. Odd hobbies. Embarrassing google searches. Wonderful vices.
Suffice it to say, my Joan habit lives in that wasteland, rather than the high ground of my personal marketing scheme. (At least it did until right now.) I would never order one on a first date. Though, the mental image of that is simply so humorous I really wish I could. Just once. Why is this young woman swimming in her wine glass?
A lot of what we do at Bob Cut falls into the category of prepped and poised storytelling. We work hard to bring you well-researched, thoughtful content. In the spirit of honesty and the celebration of the kaleidoscope of human imperfection, however, we also want to lay our “Joans” out on the table. I’ll show you mine if you show me yours.
Sometimes the mess is best.
// Photo courtesy of The Riddler SF.
Isabella Welch is a graduate of UCLA with a degree in history. Her writing has been featured in history journals, travel blogs, arts & culture magazines, and more. Director of Editorial & Creative Development at Bob Cut Mag, lover of stories and tinto de verano, she’s usually found wandering the Headlands.