The younger Secret had a double ear infection this weekend (two! two infections in one!!), so we stayed close to home. On Saturday afternoon I couldn’t take it anymore, and told Toney I was going to walk to the dive bar.
She was trying to get something done on her computer, and seemed to like to the idea just fine: “Yes, go. Go to the dive bar,” she said.
It was a beautiful day, and the bar is about a mile from our house. The weather was very football-season, and it smelled like half the town had fireplaces going, or fire pits, or other things that produce great-smelling smoke. Fall puts me a good mood… plus, there was draft beer in the near future.
I probably hadn’t been to that dump in more than a year. Toney absolutely refuses to set foot inside, because it looks like the kind of place you’d go if you had a hankering for a knife fight. But it’s not nearly as bad as it appears from the street. I don’t think.
I walked through the battered screen door, and every head ratcheted to the left, to see if it was someone they knew. Disappointed, they all turned back to the three or four TVs hanging above the bar. They had the volume turned up on one of the football games they were watching, but other than that… it was completely silent in there.
“Lager,” I told the bartender.
“Bottle or draft?”
“Two fifty,” he said.
Lager, of course, is northeastern Pennsylvania shorthand for Yuengling. Nobody calls it “Yuengling,” it’s simply “lager.”
I took a look around. I’ve always referred to the place as a dive bar, but might have to amend my descriptor. Check it out. It’s certainly a dive, but old man bar might be more accurate. I felt like a young whipper-snapper sitting in there.
I don’t think the guy beside me ever took a drink of his beer. He was there when I arrived, and he was there when I left, with the same amount of beer in his glass. Never spoke a word to anyone. The man beside him was completely mute, as well. Oh, it was one raucous bunch.
I noticed there were ashtrays there, even though it’s against the law to smoke in bars and restaurants. Whatever. And here’s their lineup of draft beers: Budweiser, Bud Light, Miller Lite, Coors Light, and Yuengling Lager.
In the old days they always had one microbrew, usually Victory Hop Devil, but apparently that didn’t go over very well…
I sat there and nursed my beer, exchanged a few text messages with Metten, and a morbidly obese gentleman eventually arrived and livened up the joint. He was probably in his early 30s, and was excessively invested in one of the football games. He sat down in the middle of the bar, and started hollering at the TVs on the wall.
“Ohhhh my gooooood! What’s the matter wit’ you?? You had it right in your haaaaaaands!!”
I found it interesting that a man who probably has to use a rag and wooden spoon to wash his own ass, thought it was appropriate to criticize world class athletes. I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that he had to stop for a rest, between his car and the barstool.
I had three beers, while soaking up the ambience of the place (and when I say ambience, I mean cigarette smoke and Lectric Shave), and left my standard tip on the bar: one dollar for each beer consumed. It seemed like a lot, under the circumstances, but I’m governed by a certain set of rules. What do you think? Did I over-tip?
While walking home I had to use the bathroom — right now. I very seriously considered going up into the woods, and just letting it go; my clothing seemed to be designed for such endeavors. But then I saw a port-o-potty, beside a youth soccer field.
The gods of waste elimination were smiling on me!
And while in that phone booth of unspeakable funk, I started thinking about all the different names I’ve heard people use to describe those things. Just recently I heard another one: Job Johnny. What have you heard them called? It seems like everybody has a different name for ’em.
I’ll leave you now with a question from the Stealing Clive Bull‘s Topics desk. It’s loosely related to today’s update… very loosely.
Recently Clive asked his callers to tell him where they live, roughly, and whether or not they’d feel comfortable walking around their neighborhood alone, at midnight.
I would, because we live in a full-on Leave it to Beaver town. In fact, the only place I’ve ever lived where I WOULDN’T have felt comfortable walking around alone at midnight, was an apartment in Atlanta. It was a place on Bonaventure Avenue, a few doors down from the notorious shithole “residence hotel,” the Clermont. When the sun went down there, it became an iffy proposition…
What about you? How would you answer Clive’s question?
And I’ll see you guys tomorrow.
Have a great day!
They roll up the streets about 10:00 PM here in Wilshire Meadows, so walking at midnight would be 100% safe.
That bar looks like they recently remodeled it back in the 50’s.
Is that the hoppin’ spot in your town?
Man, I would be bored to tears, we have about 5 great bars all within 2 miles of here.
30 miles south says
By the way, Jeff – I have met the Beaver in person! I even got my photo taken with him. Yep, Jerry Mathers (as the Beaver) was doing a public appearance at a big RV show, believe it or not. He was with a certain brand of RV called “Beaver” and I guess they hired him to be there and help promote their brand amongst the many other RV names in the show. There was not a line of people waiting to see him, but I was! I thought it was cool to meet him. I’ll email you my photo of him and I, if you’d like. I had to wait around for him to show up. Apparently, I got there when he was on a lunch break, but after a while he came casually strolling into the area. And I mean CASUAL. He acted like there’s no hurry, no big deal. He was very friendly and just like a regular guy. He was “sort of” in costume, wearing a blue letter sweater like a grown up high school kid or something. I think I got his autograph too, but on a paper that had the RV “Beaver” logo on it. The photo was mailed to me a week or two after the RV show. I saw that he will be appearing on the Oprah show this Wed. or sometime soon.
I’m with the buck-a-drink crowd. Not because of the “work all day on your feet blah blah blah” stuff. Because of two things. One – as Lewis Black said – ANYONE who is willing to bring you stuff while you sit on your ass deserves a good tip… and Two – next time you’re at a bar, look around. The later it gets, the more tired the bartender gets, and the more obnoxious the patrons get. And yet, they keep their service face on. Unless you cross the line, and they, or the bouncer, get to do the part of the gig they love best.
As for walking around my neighborhood at night, I’ve always felt safe. The neighborhood we’re buying a place in, not so much right now. Well, I’m ok, but I wouldn’t want my family out after dark. The city is dumping a metric shitload of money in to that area, though, and roughly half of the homes are currently foreclosed, or in foreclosure, and prices are appreciating about double compared to the rest of the metro, so I think we’ll be in good shape in a short time.
If you live somewhere you don’t feel comfortable walking around at night, first, learn firearm safety & handling. Like, from a class, with some hands-on training. Second, buy a firearm you’re comfortable firing. Practice a lot at the range. A LOT. Doesn’t matter what caliber you’re shooting if you put the slug in the right spot the first time. Third, get your carry permit. Seriously. Because if you defend yourself outside your property with a firearm & no permit, you’re a criminal too.
Sorry, CA, MA, IL, NY, and other crime friendly states. You’re on your own.
(ok…. stepping off the soapbox…)
Shiny Rod says
Have not been in a dive bar since I left the Navy and that was to take out some Marines who were fighting.
…and you thought you were significant: Awesome breath taking video clip.
I have only been up as far as 5 miles for a Halo Jump.
Now playing on the iPod – “Stars Like These” – Four80East
I am a vapor, I am a leaf on the wind and then…I am gone.
I always feel safe in my neighborhood any time night or day, Don’t even feel the need to lock the doors when my husband is away, I even go to concerts in Cleveland alone sometimes although that does make me somewhat nervous, I work for Roadrunner records and get into concerts free to hand out swag and hang up posters, Lately I have been thinking we have been lucky not to get robbed and lock up the house. I just turned 50 and I don’t like going to bars anymore. The dive we go to occasionally is mostly grey hairs and townies…..boring. Went to a place in Lakewood called The Engine they had 2 cask ales, at least 25 drafts and 200 bottled beers plus some great food! That is one righteous bar!
listening to a cool prog band named Phideaux, very good!
I forgot about the tip factor. I usually tip a dollar every time I order, after a while I cut it down to 50 cents
Walk around in my neighborhood after dark? I think NOT!! I live in the New Orleans, I don’t walk around my neighborhood during the day without a tazer, and I live in one of the safest neighborhoods in the City. As we were unloading the truck in May to move here a security systemwas being installed. Not like Dunbar where I don’t even remember having a key to the house because the door was never locked.
Tipping, now that’s a whole new subject. I’ve waited tables, both as a primary job in college and a secondary job during and after “the divorce”. 10% min rather you’ve had good service or not, 15-18% for average service, 20%+ for good service. When min wage went up servers/bartenders didn’t go up $2.13 an hour still. Who can live off that? People in the service industry get $0.0 paychecks. All they have are thier tips. I think EVERYBODY should have to waite tables for 6 months a live off thier tips. The tipping and customer attitude would be a hell of a lot different.
$1 a beer/drink acceptable NOT per order, if a pitcher $2-3!
OK I’m off my soap box now.
If I’m only having a couple and especially if paying by cash it’s a dollar a beer. Sometimes a quarter is added in if it’s part of the change and just easier to say keep it (baseball games, the boat back from the baseball games, etc).
If I’m running a tab I usually go percentages but almost always over 20 and usually closer to 35 to 40.
The dive bar near my place in Newport, KY has super cheap beers and it’s an OMB. I love tipping a dollar there because I feel like a big spender. Also the Silverleaf in St. Louis is the same way. You can buy a round for the bar for less than 10 bucks.
As far as walking around after midnight:
Place in Oklahoma City I would but it’s not a walking area. It runs along one busy street and part of Rt 66 so I’d be a highway walk-rat.
Place in Newport, KY – I would and do every night I’m in town.
Places I’ve lived before:
Onancock, VA – Yes.
4 places in St. Louis – Yes^4
3 places in Cincinnati – Downtown, yes (But did get mugged once, but was at 7 PM). Norwood, not so much. Pleasant Ridge, yes.
Atlanta (Buckhead) – Yes
Cincinnati (Clifton) – Yes, but not always comfortable about it.
Atlanta/College Park (Riverdale Rd) – Yes, but where was there to walk to?
Marietta, OH – Yes, with money hanging out of my pocket.
I always tip a dollar a drink, possibly more if the circumstances warrant, but decent beers are $5 to $6 here, so the percentage works out. In addition to what JeffInDenver points out, I learned this early on: be good to your bartender, and your bartender will be good to you. Words to live by.
I feel safe walking in my neighborhood any time of day or night, although we day-shift types don’t have much occasion for late-night wandering.
Shiny, that’s a fantastic video! I do love some Top Gear, and that clip is extra-awesome. I only jump out of airplanes when they are on the ground with the engine(s) off.
Porta-potty. iPod-free house.
”Never leave a tip that makes noise”…words to live by
Soooooo take the noisemaker off my penis?
”Never leave a tip that makes noise” – I like that.
I read somewhere – possibly here – that you are not permitted to tip using coins that you have ever touched. But if coins come back in the change from your drink, it’s OK to leave them as *part of* the tip. Example: your drink(s) are 7.73 after tax; you may give the barkeep a 10 and leave the 2.27 behind, or even take back a dollar if the service was not so great.
Correct me if I’m right; internet, Special Olympics, etc.
The Qweezy Mark says
That bar hasn’t changed a bit in the last twenty years. Even the dust is the same…..plus…..I know one of the guys in the picture lives right down the street from me. Walks everywhere, every day, always on the wrong side of the street.
I don’t live in a neighborhood and it’s as dark as fuck around here at night. No sidewalks, no streetlights, so I wouldn’t walk around at midnight because I would fully expect to be hit by a car. Or eaten by a bear/bat/raccoon/deer.
The Qweezy Mark says
Now I want to go there. Too bad there’s seldom a female in the place.
brynhildr, i work across from the sutter gutter currently. it’s expensive for a dive but the strongest pours i’ve ever seen.
i have walked in my neighborhood in san francisco at midnight, but with caution. in other neighborhoods i’ve lived in here, more caution. past midnight..not so much.
I live in a small village in the English countryside, and I definitely don’t feel safe walking around here at midnight. Crushing cutesy stereotypes a go go.
Shit. Those bar-mates look like they are no more than a few minutes from the autopsy table, man.
I live in Saint Louis, and feel safe wherever I go in my neighborhood day or night…of course that’s due to the fact that I’m packin my .380. Bring it on you lowlife fucks!
Me too, Limey.
Not afraid at all to walk around my neighborhood after midnight. I live in a small, very weird town that David Lynch would be proud to call home.
Wonder if the morbidly obese gentleman from the dive bar would be interested in this?:
I actually like the photo of the dive bar. I would fit right in there. As far as walking around the neighborhood at midnight, I might just be the one people are afraid of meeting. Just kidding, I’m kinda crazy that way. People never really bothered me that much. If they bother you, just shoot em’. I wonder why that is?
I’m in the burbs of Trenton/Princeton area NJ – Hamilton Square, to be precise. In 2005 Hamilton Twp was named the 15th Safest City in the US. It’s safe , we could probably get away with locking our doors, but my mother once left her car unlocked and some “whipper snappers” broke in (well, entered, didn’t break necessarily) and took the removable interior of her ashtray and all the change she had in it. It wasn’t much, she is more annoyed by the gaping hole in her console now.
Oh, that whole Megan Kanka “Megan’s Law” thing happened just two blocks from my house. I used to ride my bike right past that guy that killed her when I was younger. But still, it’s safe.
Great Googly Moogly says
I’ve heard portable toilets called “plastic shitters”, “rent a shitters”, “shitboxes” and the more G rated “porta-potty”.
I live out in the sticks so walking around after dark is only dangerous if you get carried off my mosquitoes in the summer or freeze to death in the winter. You’d better take a flashlight or pick a moonlit night when you go wandering around after dark though. Moving back home after living in the city for a while I re-discovered that without streetlights it gets as dark as the inside of a cow when there isn’t a moon out. Only lights around are the occasional scamlight pushed by the local power company to pump up bills and sooth the terminally scared of the dark. The criminal element loves them by the way. Shows them where there is stuff to steal.
White Trash Barbie says
I have lived in some bad areas, but I have never been too concerned about wandering around at night. When I first moved to Cleveland I was subletting an apartment in East Cleveland, and the worst thing I ever saw there happened in the morning. When I lived in Miami I lived in a barrio, and when I lived in Newcastle upon Tyne I spent the wee hours wandering around Byker one night. I used to do death penalty work, so I guess this stuff isn’t much of a concern once you have hugged a few mass murderers.
Debra! The Beer Engine! Happiest. Place. On. Earth.
D in Seattle says
A $1 tip per drink is perfect. I tip $1 on $2 tall cans at my local bar, and for some reason that doesn’t strike me as odd. I have occasionally been known to tip $1 on 2 tall cans together, when dictated by the $5 bill in my pocket.
AngryWhiteGuy, ….I was wondering wahterver happened to the tress in you property!? did you cut all of ’em dowm? is hte gargoyle still there?! what about the pink flamingos!? If this was told already, I am sorry is just that i am failry new to the WVS report!
Chuck in Belpre says
I live just down the road from Marietta, OH and feel safe walking at night. But, Marietta? Not so much. It’s the unsolved murder capital of Ohio I think.
Gus Dorman says
Ripped off again! Bloody bastards!
m- the trees are mostly still there, since I left about 90 percent of them after I moved back to Florida. I’m sure the flamingos are still on the other property. I have the gargoyle on display in my front yard and nobody complains.
On IPOD right now- “Dance This Mess Around”- B52s
Gus- yeah, but at least the comments section there gives Jeff the credit.
Swami Bologna says
Who the hell buys a whole chicken in a can ? ! ? ! ? ! ?
Lordy mama, that is disgusting.
Port-a-potty = Biffs
I live in Saint Paul, almost to the city limit. We live in a tucked away culdesac, yet we have a busy road one block away on a couple sides. I wouldn’t say I live in a dangerous area of town, more like it’s better to take precautions. I wouldn’t tempt fate walking around the neighborhood at midnight.
$1 per beer when paying in cash, 20% or better when running a tab. I live in an apartment complex on the outskirts of town, so walking around after midnight is no big deal. Unless I’m really drunk, then it’s more like staggering. And it is usually best to stay away from the edges of the ponds, what with the gators and such.
Porto-Crapper? Fiberglass Outhouse?
Marietta, unsafe? Ha! Maybe Parkersburg. The only unsolved murder in Marietta I can think of is Rhonda Manley and they found her killer.
Another was commited by my former neighbor, but once again a lover/lovee type of thing that doesn’t count as random violence.
My favorite port-a-potty name has always been “The Sooperbowl”
For years, I lived right around the corner from The Clermont. In fact, we all considered the “lounge” there our neighborhood dive bar. Not really a strip club, more like a dive bar with a few nekkid people. I felt safer there than I do in my new ‘hood in SW Atlanta. I DEFINITELY wouldn’t walk around by myself after 11 pm or so.