Memories are made by what is planned. Better memories are usually made by what is not.
I told Brendan the other day that sometime I wanted to get together and watch some football at a sports bar somewhere and have a beer or two with him. His work schedule is weekend heavy so it didn't look like any of the playoff or Superbowl games would be possible. He had Friday (January 17th) off as did I so he said let's meet at the Game Room on Martin Luther King Boulevard, not too far from his place. We'd never been there and I was kind of scouting out a place I could go to for the Superbowl. I didn't want the Hooters, or Wing House crowd, but a laid back good-ole Crappy's/Blackie's kind of place. A place with big screens, cold beer, a grill and a laid back clientele, while not too crowded.
The Game Room was OK but lacked a coherent stool-to-bar ratio. The footrests were too far out and the bar wasn't out far enough creating a large chasm between you and the bar (and beer). It also employed the worst bartender ever. She was attentive and johnny-on-the-spot with beer when our glasses got low, but was dumber than a hair and had such an off-putting personality that we didn't dare make eye contact for fear she would come over and chat. She told us she hadn't been in town more than 3 months and had come from Kentucky. I now have a new standard for brutal dumbness and that is "Kentucky Stupid." Before we go on, neither Brendan nor I are mean. We have a tolerance level that is all-encompassing, and while it may seem we aren't giving Miss Kentucky a break, believe me, we are. She said we should come to the Superbowl party they were having, she was working. She then repeated it three more times as if we hadn't understood it. She also said she was a Denver fan but hated Peyton Manning and made several grunting noises toward the TV when they panned to his picture. Mind you the Broncos wouldn't be where they are without him, but apparently once you get hated in Kentucky, that's where you remain. She grunted quite often looking either in pain or suffering a sickness, and at one point started slapping herself as if to awake. Sorry, honey, there is no waking from Kentucky Stupid. And finally, she was her own standup comedian and audience. No 60's style laugh track had anything on her. But funny, uh, not so much. I won't even go into what her family dynamics are (3 kids of her own and 3 others of questionable pedigree, all still up north in Kentucky with their Dad. I will just add one more thing. She told us she worked for a guy up in Clearwater for 6 weeks but never got paid so she quit. I told her I would have raided the cash box after 2 weeks. I may be Illinois Stupid but I ain't Kentucky Stupid. My apologies for anyone who may reside or have relations or friends in Kentucky.
A couple years ago I stopped whenever the mood hit me at a place called Crum's on 5th Avenue North, not far from Shawshank. It was a quiet place that had good food, a couple of TV's and a nice ambiance. In fact Brendan met me there a couple times with his then girlfriend Rachel. Nice place, but the owner then tried making it a specialty nook with 300 or more different beers. I think it got to where he only stocked a couple regular beers. It soon died. Brendan said the old place had reopened under the name The Eagle, or Eagles, I'm not sure. He said, let's go check it out. Good idea, Brendan, let's see what the old place looks like.
The first thing that caught my eye was the covering on the door. Why? We walked in and the place was completely empty, save for a small fellow behind the bar.
Well, the Christmas lights are a little tacky, but otherwise it looked the same. Crum's had a karaoke place off to the right and I could see this place still had it but, golly, some new decorative flags hanging on the walls.
And it began to dawn on Brendan, we had stumbled into a gay bar. It didn't hit me until I looked to my right and this was on the wall right next to me. I told Brendan if it'd had a dick on it I would have had a concussion.
I couldn't help it, but I started to get the giggles, and not wanting to be rude Brendan tried keeping his composure, but eventually succumbing to the reality. Apparently, he knew it before I did. For him the flags were a giveaway.
The beer was cold and cheaper than at the Game Room. We stayed and had a few more beers before leaving. The bartender was attentive and quick, primarily because there was only one other person there. It was a nice place, friendly, and we had some food which was good. The place had one of those juke boxes hooked to the Internet so you can get virtually any song ever recorded and Brendan began dropping dollars in and we listened to Meat Loaf, a love of mine I imparted on him, a little Cat Stevens and then on to some of his stuff. We had a great time, great chat and the unique surroundings just made the night more special.
After a while Brendan suggested we wrap things up at the Octave, a downtown bar where he was going to meet a friend. I went in for one and was ready to head back to Shawshank. The evening over, a fun time with my son. And a memory to savor for a lifetime.