The first bar I ever snuck into…. I mean, was of legal age to enter… was a disco bar. Lights flashing, colors whirling, spandex shining – it was Energy personified.
I listened at the bar stand until I heard something that sounded mature, ordered it, then stood there practicing nonchalance. I wondered why the guy next to me was playing with baby powder on the bar.
Fast forward a little and you have me at your basic Fern Bar.
Cool and easy, wine-sipping, power-suit wearing single women was the vibe.
I choked down the House Chard and watched the divorcees scan the room for prey.
I’ve been to dance clubs, hotel bars and the smoky bar thumping with live music.
Oldies music clubs in the 80’s where I laughed at 40 year olds rocking The Beatles or The Stones (now it’s 80’s music and they’re laughing at me wailing Journey) or Blues bars where dudes of all ages dangle cigarettes and ennui.
I’ve even been to gay bars where everyone danced with everyone and, god, we all looked fabulous! Except doing the two-step and then it just looked ridiculous.
But, never, nowhere, no-how had I ever been to a pub in Texas. Oh, I’d been to a capital P “Pub”. Like, O’Malley’s or Shenanagins. Shamrock napkins and green beer. Maybe The Bier Garden with waitresses with boobs pushed up in dirndls. We do so love a theme in the South. (god knows, we love our boobs pushed up)
I watched Cheers on TV and longed to walk into my neighborhood pub where everyone knew my single-syllable name and the owner/bartender/ex-local-hottie, who peaked in high school, slid my Usual down the bar into my waiting hand and then put it on my Tab. Then I would lean with my back against the bar and just, you know, see who was here, who was back in town, who was suspiciously absent, who Albie the Alky had conned into buying him a beer.
There just aren’t those kinds of places where I’m from. Granted, I’ve never been to that bar in the trailer on the highway outside of town. Maybe it’s like that. That’s really not the single-syllable name I want to be called, though.
So, way back, on the first day of my first summer Up North, when my husband took me to grab a burger, I took one look at the local tavern and I knew – this was gonna be fun! I jumped out of the car and never looked back.
Inside, there were beer signs with names I’d never heard of (Blatz?), unfathomable food on the menu (smelt?), an open grill with a semi-surly cook, an harried but un-hurried waitress who didn’t give a damn where you were from and, oh! Look! A bartender who looked like he might have, you know, made the winning touchdown at the playoff game in ’78! My husband grabbed my elbow, led me to a booth and told me to stop staring.
I couldn’t stop. I haven’t stopped yet.
It’s tables full of multi-generation families taking a break from the cottage kitchen. (“Table for 15, please?”)
It’s the young, granola-eating hikers grabbing some lunch on their 7,000 mile bike tour. (“um, like, is there anything vegan on this menu?”)
It’s the little family in swimsuits and cover ups trying to get the kids to eat something besides sand and ice-cream. (“Will you please stop licking that petoskey, young man?”)
Gaggles of fresh, fit Lake Rats drinking a pitcher of beer and daring each other to try the backflip on the board. (“Dude, you gotta just try it! What’s the worst that can happen?”)
It’s one of those places I want to wrap up and send into space so aliens will know who we are.
What we are, of course, is crazy. From Dallas, Texas to the Great Lakes – solidly, reassuringly crazy.
We all meet at the Tavern for soup on Wednesday, beer on Friday and karaoke on Saturday.
They text me if they have meat loaf.
It’s just like I imagined.