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Life Is a Cabaret, Old Chum

By John Fox · February 25th, 2009 · Editorial

My wedding reception was in a bar, spilling out onto the decks on a beautiful September afternoon. I just got back from New Orleans and spent some quality time at Pat O’Brien’s, a place I associate with wonderful Mardi Gras trips throughout the years.

My friends Joe and Donna met in a bar and got married within a year. I’ve celebrated births, deaths and everything in between in bars.

Plenty of friends over the years worked in bars, and a few even owned bars. I’ve won bets in a bar, gotten into fights at a bar, had my picture put on the wall at a bar, carved my initials into a table in a bar and carried people out of a bar on my shoulder.

I’ve played pool, darts, pinball, cards, bocce ball, basketball and sand volleyball in bars, plus all manner of trivia contests and crazy old-time mechanical games. I have a go-to bar trick I pull out when people start challenging each other.

I’ve had Guinness in a pub in Dublin, port in a fado bar in Lisbon, chianti in a sidewalk cafe in Rome, hurricanes at Pat O’s and Hudy Delight at the Crow’s Nest.

I’ve drank in bars with my grandfather and father and hope one day to drink at a bar with my son and daughter and maybe even their children.

I’ve seen lots and lots of bands at bars. Incredible bands, musicians doing their very first live show, guys covering James Taylor on an outdoor patio, a young man singing “Danny Boy” on St. Patrick’s Day at Arnold’s when the courtyard was so quiet you could hear a pin drop, except for the old men (and me) crying.

I’ve found amazing songs on juke boxes in bars, songs I thought no one else liked, and I played them over and over. I haven’t sang karaoke at a bar and hopefully never will.

I’ve watched Super Bowls, World Series games, college bowl games, championship fights, the Olympics, World Cup matches and NCAA basketball tournaments at bars. I’ve seen English Premiership soccer at 8 a.m. at Hap’s, and I’ve watched way too many meaningless sports events at way too many bars because nothing else was on the big screen TV.

(On a side note, in the few instances when my favorite team plays for a championship, such as the Phillies in last fall’s World Series, I always watch the games at home. I can’t be in a bar full of strangers at such an important time. Weird.)

I have friends who can’t or won’t go to bars. Some stopped going because they had a drinking problem, some because they hated coming home smelling like smoke and others because they just weren’t very social.

Bad things happen occasionally in bars, and very bad things can happen when people leave bars drunk and try to drive.

Here’s a challenge: Check out CityBeat’s Swizzle Guide this week — a rundown of more than 200 great local spots — and think about how many of your life’s moments are associated with a bar.

CONTACT JOHN FOX: jfox@citybeat.com



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