10 July 2017

Penny Newsletter - #03: We All Went To The Bar...

I had way too much time on my hands from Sunday evening to Wednesday. So here's this week's newsletter. No denying my lateness this time but we'll get into that shortly.

Chris Paul to the Rockets though? That was out of nowhere. I absolutely love this NBA offseason so far (other than the Bulls getting rid of franchise cornerstone Jimmy Butler, but I digress). We're 2 days away from free agency (and hours away from a new Jay-Z album!) and nobody knows what's going to happen.

Here's a bold prediction: LeBron James doesn't finish the 2016-17 season as a Cavalier if they're not able to bring in the big name they need. A crazy prediction (that I'm sure E will hate me for) but I think it's in play.



So I watched Trolls for the first time this weekend. Now that we own it, I'm sure we'll be watching even more Trolls. But the first thing I noticed (besides it not holding a candle to Moana) was the reworking of Junior Senior's "Move Your Feet". So naturally, here's this week's Song Of The Moment. But let it be known that Luther's "Don't Wanna Be  A Fool" was damn close as well.

I had some free time this week because Angel and Aaliyah went to DC to visit Nikki. You would think I’d be super productive and get all kinds of stuff done, right? Just the opposite. I spent all my time away from the house with friends because I didn’t know what to do with myself otherwise. And it didn’t take long for me to get an invite to one of Morgantown’s local-est of bars, Gene’s Beer Garden.

I’ve been saying for years that I prefer a bar to a club the older I’ve gotten and that hasn’t changed. But normally, the bars I haunt have delicious wings on their menus and sports on every TV. Gene’s has TVs, but if you’re there, you’re there to drink and be merry. I sat down with my friends on one end of the bar and finally got my hands on some of that delicious Halleck Pale Ale that Heather has been raving about for months. While I focused on enjoying my beer and being merry, I also took some time to take in my surroundings.

Being in a bar at 34 is different from being in a bar in your early 20s. You have no couth in your 20s; no sense of tradition. You may think you’re building traditions but you’re really just making a bunch of noise and drinking way too much while you do it. Granted, my friends and I were doing the exact same thing but not as rambunctiously as we would’ve in our youth. I’d say there wasn’t more than 20 people in the bar the couple of hours I was there but you never got the sense the bar was dead or too packed (and Gene’s is small, it doesn’t take much).

The right side of the bar had a couple of guys just shooting the breeze, drinking their drinks and talking to the bartender. They were slightly older and looked to be just winding down from a hot summer day, whether they were at work or had been putting around their house. I’ve always been fascinated with the idea of being a regular somewhere. The closest I’ve come is using the same Sheetz so much that they recognized me and picked on me for spending so much money on coffee. My dad is a regular… no, the king of Applebee’s on Route 50 coming into/out of Winchester, VA. People come to visit him while he’s there. It’s fricking uncanny. I always wondered how one becomes a member of those groups of older gentlemen that sit in fast food restaurants like McDonalds and Burger King every single morning. There’s normally not more than 6 or 7 of them, all discussing current events while drinking coffee and flipping through the local newspaper. I want to be that cool.

I was a regular at a bar once but it wasn’t a particularly good time in my life. Ed and I lived a street down from a High Life Lounge, which is one of many video gambling places all over West Virginia. Our friend Jina was a bartender there which naturally meant free beer for us. I had no job and absolutely nothing to do, so many of my evenings in 2008 consisted of drinking as much free beer as I could take while Jina tended to the other patrons. And having my pick of what to watch on TV. It sounds like a sweet deal but the amount of time I wasted there makes me cringe. And I wasn’t being a regular; I was essentially stealing profits from the place one drink at a time. It’s a laundromat now, go figure.

Back to Gene’s, it was the bartender’s birthday! So people were popping in and out to see her and bringing her gifts and food. If crashing weddings gives off as good of a feeling as being around for anyone’s birthday does, I really need to put that on the bucket list. She had made some of her famous kimchi for the hot dogs (which is the other thing that Gene’s offers, hot dogs for cheap to go with your beer). And I say famous because everyone was putting this kimchi over. I was running low on funds until payday and my friends were nice enough to provide the pitchers of Halleck, so getting a free sample of this kimchi was an extra bonus. It was really good too, I need to make a mental note to go back and have some on an actual hot dog. Point being, I may have been a bit intoxicated but my local bar was the happiest place on earth for the time being.

I knew I had to be leaving soon to get home as I hadn’t eaten yet so I reluctantly said my goodbyes. While new faces had replaced some of the people who were there when I came in by this time, Gene’s still had just the right amount of people there. Before I left, I opened up my Google Docs app and typed in “Your local bar” as a reminder of what I wanted this week’s column to be about.

So I headed home… except I ended up at E’s and played 2K for the second consecutive night. After that, I got a text from Jamie, who I had invited to Gene’s earlier but he was playing softball. He was still out at Mundy’s, yet another local bar. Mundy’s is five minutes from my house, so I told him I’d see him shortly.

Mundy’s was pretty dead when I got there other than the three guys sitting with Jamie, the bartender and maybe another couple or 2. I had been in Mundy’s years ago when it was still a hole in the wall that served beer. Now it’s a redecorated hole in the wall that serves beer and the upgrades have done the place wonders. I definitely want to go there when it’s not 45 minutes before closing time to see if I catch the same vibe that I had at Gene’s.

So I hung out with Jamie and his friend for a few and had a couple more beers that he was gracious enough to buy me. We talked about when we would go out to the clubs when we were younger. We would go to Elements for the free drink special from 10 to 11, then go to Shooters or Club Z to see Wes or Cortez perspectively, and finish our night with some mediterranean food from Prince Naseem’s. Naturally, Jamie’s friend had no clue about any of the places we were talking about. Eventually, he left and Jamie and I chatted for a while longer until the bartender was ready to shut things down and go home to sleep. We parted ways and I headed for bed myself, much later than I should have since I opened the next morning at work.

I can definitely say I don’t have the stamina to be a regular at a bar yet nor the time. But with the right amount of moderation (that’s really the key), maybe someday I’ll be the guy holding court while you and your friends get drunk and loud. And maybe, you’ll have the good sense to come and buy me a beer. You might learn a thing or three.

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