I've been to the bar Soda two times. The first time was about a month ago, for the post-memorial drinks and Mac slideshow in honor of a departed friend, at which no eye was dry and no future seemed quite right to anyone in attendance, without him.
The second time was this past Wednesday, when a kind insider included me on an email announcing drinks and a book signing for Things I Learned About my Dad (in Therapy), where Heather Armstrong, her husband Jon, Alice Bradley, Doug French, Sarah Brown, and Greg Allen (whom I didn't meet...was he there?) would all be in attendance, sitting in a small circle, entertaining the occasional reader who dropped in with stories of human cannibalism, climbing K2, writing novels with q-tips dipped in the jet-black ink of the elusive Architeuthis hartingii, and raising toddlers.
It was sort of like that, toward the end. When I arrived, however, there was a line snaking through the room, the books were all sold out, people were waiting to have non-books signed, and clusters of people who'd already been signed were still settled into booths rehashing their experience. Heather and the others were clearly enjoying real, prolonged face-time with actual readers, and the process aspect of the meet and greet had stalled. I reached this conclusion as I stood aside, waiting to greet my friends in that tiny circle of celebrity: society has reached the point where there are bloggers who need "people." Make of that what you will. It was a little more settled at the end, although even then, when we headed off toward the next venue for this month's Cringe reading, at which Alice and her husband were to perform, Heather and Jon were still on the sidewalk in a scrum of fans. Time and again, the crowd turned un-anonymous, as some long-time reader, commenter or Goodreads connection came forward to one of these folks to say "oh hi, you sort of know me." Perhaps best of all, Heather B. was there to have beer and marvel at the madness.
In traffic, and recognition, and self-identification as a blogger, I am orbiting at the very outermost fringe of that crew. But I've had a couple of tastes of it recently, and there's definitely something there. Whatever that means, I know this: Soda will never be just a bar for this blogger.