We arrived at Essex Ale House just hours after I experienced the (quintessentially modern) dating horror moment: Finding the secret skirt-chase blog of the fellow I’d been dating. Oh, the lurid detail! Oh, the numerous skirts!! I needed a sedative from the bar’s extensive beer-only menu. The names of the varied brew delicacies cram a chalkboard the width of the boxy-shaped room. Imports reign supreme: Belgian, German, French, Brazilian, they got it—with ten beers on tap and a super-sweet barkeep. I got my pals Darren and Seldon a crisp Weihenstephaner ($5) and a creamy oatmeal stout ($6), respectively, and myself a Lambic Framboise ($8). The sweet raspberry ale eased the tension before I settled in to tell my woeful tale, and as the bar’s open-mic comedians competed for best vagina joke. Darren felt the crowd of aspiring laugh-meisters deserved to hear blogger-boy’s ignominy proclaimed, stand-up style. MC Maggie Champagne was more than encouraging, and by the end of my bit I had ten new female friends. Though the bar’s lighting was much too bright for my taste (hide, hide from the truth!), the small, blue coffee shop–like space was growing on me, and that old adage rang true: Sometimes comedy is tragedy plus time.