Melissa Carter

Melissa Carter: Cowtippers helped me through kidney disease fight

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

That quote from Maya Angelou represents not only individuals in your life but also businesses, since the best companies include people willing to make you feel good. Cowtippers has been that kind of business for me.

When I heard Cowtippers was closing, it hurt my heart. That space has served as the backdrop to some very important times in my life. Several dates have been enjoyed there, plus a few controlled arguments as those relationships evolved. I caught up with many a friend on the deck and the bar inside, all while rushing to the magazine stacks nearby to show off my budding career as a freelance columnist. I first saw musician Chris Burke perform there, and invited my new colleague Jeff Dauler for lunch to loosen up his naive nervousness around gay people. I conducted several interviews at those tables, and hosted a few appearances as a radio personality. I suggested “Xanadu” for one of their movie nights, and received heckles from patrons who didn’t appreciate Olivia Newton-John on skates as much as I do. I even held a going-away party there before my kidney transplant, and still have the “Get Well Soon” poster patrons signed as good luck.

But the most important thing Cowtippers did was give me dignity when I was sick. As my kidneys began to fail, my diet restrictions increased, and having to explain them in public became a source of irritation for me. If you’ve ever suffered from a long-term illness, you know that being defined by the struggles of your body is something you try to avoid. Others’ need to constantly bring up your illness feels like an invasion of your privacy at times, despite their good intentions. All I wanted was to be able to go out, order a meal and not have an extensive conversation with the server of how that order needed to be prepared so as not to kill me.

At the time, management of Cowtippers included a transplant recipient who was empathetic to my insecurities. They discussed with me menu options and provided the cook at Cowtippers a cheat sheet on what I could have. You must realize that my food had to be stripped of all sauces, butter, spices and prepared as plainly as possible. That meant the cook had to clean the stovetop to ensure nothing dangerous for me remained from the last order that could touch my food.

So for the entire year I remained at my sickest, I could walk into Cowtippers and feel normal, be like any other patron, with no questions asked. They also assured me this was something they would do for any of their regulars, not just the media personality who felt awkwardly like a diva asking for so much effort from their staff. I can’t express how much that meant to me and how it offered me an escape from the constant reminder of how fragile my life was. I’ll never forget that or forget them.

Raise your glass and give a heartfelt toast to Cowtippers. I encourage them to sell off pieces of their deck to those of us who spent much of our lives there. What a great conversation piece that would be.