Is it okay to drink and not feel like you’ve committed a crime these days? Is it me or are the local drunks going the way of the hobo? I used to enjoy drinking when it was more of a guy thing before the amateurs took over. The local bar isn’t dead, but it has had an image overhaul. It’s not as rough around the edges as in days gone by. Some folks spend hours in bars and drink little to no alcohol. What’s the deal?
Back in the olden days twenty or thirty years ago, the bar was our safe space, a refuge of smokes and nicotined bar mirrors staring back at us. Us being drunks, the casual blue-collar type. It was a place to duck into to check yourself or lose yourself depending on the time or day of the week. I could spend hours catching up with misanthropes or mill workers, retired postal workers or lounging musicians.
I’m starting to think the fun has drifted away. When did it end? Is there a year? A decade? The ’80s? Did MADD kill the romanticism along with bringing us the unconstitutional traffic stops?
Local bars always rank higher on my to-do list. Give me the cheap shots of booze for the afternoon buzz. A bee in my bonnet, whirling away the day. Tommy James and Mouth and McNeal on the jukebox in the corner next to a cigarette machine with way too many options – Lucky Strikes and Chesterfield(!). Easy women playing hard to get like bad actresses auditioning on a smoky, Bukowski-esque stage. The smoke. I’ll be obliged to take some of it home for the washer and to remind myself that I once carried the smell on my own as a suit of armor, my chainmail made from interlocking smoke rings. My proof of appearance, or disappearance, into the hazy dream of the local establishment. Proof that I played my part like a pro, the part of the happy-houred millworker freshened up by stale pretzels and Calvert. The Marlboro Man minus the open range, preferring instead the horseshit-babble from the mouths of babes and stoned softball players. The Babble of Avalon, the Babylonian. Drunk on his own pseudo-leather saddle stool.