The Garretts' dive bar may be gone but their love is still intact 

The Test of Time

click to enlarge leigh-ann-and-matt-garrett_01_jwb.jpg

Jonathan Boncek

Couple: Leigh Ann and Matt Garrett
Met at: The old Cumberland's
Years together: 15

Leigh Ann and Matt Garrett met at the old Cumberland's. That's how they describe the building that now sits empty at 26 Cumberland St. It was after a Widespread Panic concert in 2001 when the two, who may or may not have previously met, started talking and ... you know what, we'll let them tell the story.

INSIDE A dark bar, (almost) 15 years ago, smelling of beer, bodies, and greasy food.

Matt: I'm what, eight years older than you?

Leigh Ann: Uhhh, seven.

Matt: I was managing a restaurant and she was still in school.

Leigh Ann: Cumberland's was always the after concert meet up spot. I was a junior at CofC.

Matt: It's been 12-14 years, which is a shame. And then Cumberland's went on King for a while — where the Apple Store is now — we tried that, it was nothing like the original.

Leigh Ann: We toured and traveled around with Widespread Panic separately. We met after that show here. Me and girlfriends were going up to a show in Columbia or Greenville and he was going too. I don't even remember how we started talking... I recognized you from Yo Burrito. And we'd met in New Orleans before and he tried to hit on me and my friends were like "Oh the burrito boy."

Matt: Or was New Orleans after that?

Leigh Ann: We haven't talked about this story in a while ... I gave you my number at Cumberland's. I didn't think anything of it. You never called and I wasn't the least bit worried about it.

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Matt: (Soft smile).

Leigh Ann: And then you did end up calling me.

Matt: Yeah, probably so.

Leigh Ann: And we went to something at the Music Farm.

Matt: No... we went to where the Vineyard Vines stores is now.

Leigh Ann: There's a Vineyard Vines store there now? That's insane.

Matt: It was a bar, Zibo something.

Leigh Ann: No, no, no.

Matt: King and Wentworth was where this bar was.

Leigh Ann: No, we went to a bar at King and Calhoun, a rooftop. We used to love their brunch, me and girlfriends. Anyway, you called me and I thought, "This guy just called me and I'm not going alone." I brought two girls with me and we all went out. Then you called me and we went on a date to the Music Farm. That's when he called and invited me on an actual date to Music Farm.

Matt: (Nods).

Leigh Ann: So, he never called when he was supposed to. But he called later and I gave him a chance. And never left...

Matt: Pretty much.

Leigh Ann: We moved in pretty soon after, probably six months, got married four years after we started dating.

Matt: This was 10 years ago.

Leigh Ann: And we had our first little girl six years ago and our second little girl two years ago. We still go see music and still bring the girls along.

Matt: If it's at a reasonable hour.

Leigh Ann: I think that's what this city feels like it's lost, those dive bars where you have the regulars. I don't know how people meet people.

I think you (points at Matt) hung out at Cumberland's more. And the Griffon.

Matt: It's still a lot of the same people going there, but instead of closing it down they're coming in at 4 p.m. and leaving by 8.

Leigh Ann: A decade ago more people were definitely meeting in dive bars — most people we know met in a dive bar. Basil would be the furthest we would go on King. Well Old Moulin Rouge, but that was far. What was right at Upper King, that Bentley and Sadie would close down?

Matt: Silver Dollar.

Leigh Ann: Yes, Dollar would be the last place we'd go.

Matt: When bars stayed open 'til whenever they wanted.

Leigh Ann: If you're looking to find someone, I don't know anything about online dating. It speaks volumes of our times, I guess. We never had that online vetting ... you just had to give somebody a chance in and of itself. I wonder if we had that, if you had to judge on someone's social media?

Matt: We knew we had common interests.

Leigh Ann: What would your online presence have looked like 14 years ago?

Matt: Oof.

Leigh Ann: Oof is right! I think I'd be like, "He's kinda a bad boy, I'm a little scared."

Matt: Yeah, I'm sure there's some of that out there. I mean not me, but other people.

Leigh Ann: Even as adults it's a challenging thing to control. You can't go anywhere wihtout a device.

Matt: Even our six year old took one of our old phones to school with her, and I'm sure she's done it more than once. And we found a bunch of selfies she'd taken on the bus.

Leigh Ann: The two year old can work my phone better than I can! Kids are born just knowing how to swipe. In the era of dive bars, there was no social media. I mean I literally remember writing my phone number on a piece of paper for you.

Matt: Yeah.

Leigh Ann: I don't remember using a phone.

Matt: I remember she sent me the first text message I ever received and I was like "What is this?"

Leigh Ann: Yeah, let's put on our readers for this!

Together: (Laughter).

End Scene.


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