[intro-text size=”25px”]THE MATCHUP: A rare kind of werewolf who is a beast by day and man by night, can the enigmatic Carl outcool the pleasing and somehow intimidatingly clean aesthetic of Plum Cafe & Kitchen? [/intro-text]

A void in me had developed after finishing every season of Friends, a void that led to drinking on a porch alone and trying to fill the void with a late-night snack at somewhere probably awful. Today was going to be different. I was going to make friends and try something new. I decided that Plum Cafe & Kitchen (4133 Lorain Ave.) was going to be the place to do so.

Upon entering I was immediately bombarded by it’s “coolness.” With only one beer on tap, a pinball machine, up-to-the-minute hip decor, and a hyper-comfortable patio setup in the back, this place was nothing but cool. It almost made me feel cool, which was nice. Even it’s name is cool. It’s kind of like the kid you called “Big Spiders” in high school because he drank twenty beers in a row; it didn’t need to make proper sense why you called him that, you just knew he and his name were both cool.

The menu is accommodating and diverse during lunch, dinner, and happy hour. The cocktail menu is also extensive, but when I visited, it was a Stone-Cold-Steve-Austin kind of day—yeah, I felt that cool—so I went with a canned beer and the Chickenrones. What I didn’t know was this place was just about to get even more cool, as the food arrived, so did my waiter: a werewolf, with the dish in hand and stick in his mouth. I was dumbfounded, the answer was obvious, but I had to ask.

“Hey, you wouldn’t happen to be a werewolf, would you?”

“As a matter of fact, I am. The name’s Carl,” he responded after removing the stick from his mouth.

“Word, so were you like playing fetch with your master or something?” How stupid was I to even think that. Werewolves wouldn’t have masters. I was afraid I was making myself look like such a loser in front of a werewolf.

“Nah man, I don’t need a master to dictate how I play fetch. I just toss it wherever and go with the flow.”

I was awestruck. “Th-that’s so cool. Don’t werewolves usually only come out at night? So, are you, like, a werewolf all the time?”

He deflected my question though. “Well, I’m going to clock out soon. You trying to drink some Black Labels and Old Overholt?” I didn’t even think about the deflection. I already felt cool enough. But why did I feel cool? Was it the Plum and their delicious fried chicken skins and canned beer or was it the werewolf?

I couldn’t pass an opportunity like this up though. After hastily eating my food and paying my tab, I began my adventures with a werewolf. Even though I wanted to stay, there is no convincing a werewolf once they’ve made a firm decision, no matter how cool the Plum is.

We went to a nearby hole-in-the-wall bar and shared drinks up until sunset. Suddenly I lost Carl. I had no idea where he was, so I began asking the patrons if they had seen my cool new friend, as they were more familiar with him than I was. He was soon pointed out to me. When the sun had set, Carl just turned back into regular Carl, a bearded dude in a Misfits shirt with some Sailor Jerry tattoos who was playing Keno. He was no longer cool.

Feeling betrayed, I left the establishment. It was at the point I had decided: The Plum had won. As its level of cool, unlike Carl, can stand the test of time…plus, they also have good food.