A Moe-mance to remember 

Making a case for cheesy dates

click to enlarge jenny-and-mike_04_jwb.jpg

Jonathan Boncek

Couple: Jenny Ferrara and Michael Bourke
Met at: Moe's Crosstown Tavern
Years together: Two

The bartenders at Moe's Crosstown Tavern call them Moe-mances, the late night meet-cutes that manage to go beyond a tipsy encounter to real life love. Apparently they're more common than we thought. There's something about the strange alchemy of a dimly lit bar, a cold beer, and the smell of cooling fries that coalesces into a heady aphrodisiac. At least that was the case for Jenny Ferrara and Michael Bourke.

Jenny stepped into Moe's on a whim January 9, 2015. She'd just finished a birthday dinner with a friend at FIG and figured she'd have a final beer — Jenny's something of a beer nerd — before returning to her Wagener Terrace home. Moe's was packed. A band played in the corner. There was just one seat at the bar.

Michael, now an accountant at Daydreamer Concepts, had come to Moe's that night too, just a little bit before Jenny arrived. "All my friends were busy, so I walked down. I sat down and ordered an Anderson Valley Blood Orange Gose," he says.

Jenny took the chair next to him.

"I remember Michael was chatting with the bartender, he had a rapport with him," says Jenny. The dark-haired Michael seemed like an affable guy, so when there was a break in the music, Jenny asked him about the band. Two and a half hours later the two had discussed music, beer, and literature, from Faulkner to Infinite Jest.

"I think I complained that Faulkner only writes in run-on sentences," Jenny says. Michael laughs — these are just the kinds of conversations they have. And because how often do you run across a guy who knows his beers and can quote David Foster Wallace, Jenny knew she wanted to see Michael again. Before she left the bar she gave him her number.

He waited the requisite three days to call, Jenny recalls rolling her eyes. I know this already, of course. Full disclosure: Jenny is a close friend and I can clearly recall the walk we took a day or so after the infamous Moe's meeting took place. This wasn't just a random encounter at a bar. This was different. Rounding Hampton Park, Jenny could barely control her smile describing the dark-haired stranger — he was smart, he was handsome, but most importantly, he was hilarious. Only trouble, she didn't know Michael's last name so she couldn't do any google recon in the meantime. Fortunately, that didn't matter. When Michael did call, he asked her to join him for a drink at Edmund's Oast — a win in Jenny's book. And just like at Moe's at Edmund's they spent another two hours talking.

"We completely forgot to eat," says Michael. "We talked so long the kitchen closed." Starving, they wrapped up the night at Tattooed Moose drunkenly eating grilled cheese.

"We were in Tattooed Moose recently and Jenny was like 'this is so not first date food,'" says Michael. "And I was like, 'Wait, what? This is literally exactly what we ate on our first date.'"

Suffice it to say, for Jenny and Michael, getting lost in conversation at dive bars has been the foundation of their two-year relationship and they have a theory as to why. Meeting someone at a dive just makes sense.

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"You're more relaxed there," says Michael. "I'm more comfortable at Moe's."

Jenny agrees. Rolling in late to a formal cocktail bar solo wouldn't have necessarily crossed her mind, but grabbing a beer at Moe's? Why not.

"Moe's is a place I feel OK going to by myself," she says.

Plus, even with the band playing, Moe's seems to have magical acoustics that allow for conversations. Add to that the fact that if you're hanging at a dive bar, you're probably not putting on a show — the conditions are perfect.

"You're not out peacocking," Jenny says.

"Yeah," says Michael, "You're not there for the purpose of picking someone up."

The dive bar atmosphere strips away any facade whether it be an obsessed over Match.com profile or a "trying too hard" veneer. You can't put on airs eating Moe's messy meets amazing barbecue chicken wrap. Or, for these two, a gooey grilled cheese either.

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