I was at my favorite watering hole the other night after work. It’s a great little dive in a sort of run down part of Dallas not far from downtown. The Dallasite Bar and Grill is full of character and characters. I like it because the crowd is older and people call one another by name and it’s usually quiet during week nights.
I was on the phone with my buddy Charlie Johnson and we were cracking jokes and reminiscing about the old days and commiserating about the current ones. Charlie is a minister who looks like a New York stock broker. He’s not one of those religious fanatics or greedy preacher tyrants who make church some kind of circus show. He’s his own person and one hell of a communicator. Plus he has a heart which most ministers today seem to be missing.
Anyway, after getting off the phone with Charlie, Mary the bartender poured me another one and someone was playing some great tunes on the jukebox and I thought of the theme song to the old TV series, “Cheers”:
"Sometimes you want to go
Where everybody knows your name
And they’re always glad you came.
You wanna be where you can see,
Our troubles are all the same."
I looked around the bar and wondered how many might be feeling some of that. Sometimes that’s why we gather there, to have a few drinks to take the edge off, to give us that nice warm feeling of letting go, of knocking back a few cocktails until the pain fades and the tight muscles relax and the stresses of the day or an entire life dissolve in waves of pleasantness.
I don’t really know any of the people there that I see each time I go. We call one another by our names and give each other pats on the back or a hug or a handshake. But I often wonder about some of them.
There is a woman in her late 30s or 40s who is always there. She brings her laptop with her and plays games on it at the bar. She talks to those around her while she plays her computer games and now and then she raises a toast in honor of something that’s just happened in whatever sport is being broadcast on one of the televisions on the wall. Sometimes when I’ve selected something on the jukebox she will catch me walking by and say, “I like that one , Tim.” And then smile. I always hug her.
There is usually a little older couple in their late 70s there having drinks together, talking and often laughing at something the other has just said. They are the cutest pair. I don’t know their names but I do know they have been married forever. They give me hope that some relationships can survive the long years and still possess wonder. That two people can hold hands together through all of the debris of life and still be in love for the duration.
The bar owner is one of those tough women who knows how to charm people and create an atmosphere where people want to be. She has dyed hair and big earrings and wears that classic lipstick and calls everyone sweetheart and knows your favorite drink without asking. Her husband died a few years ago and sometimes when there’s only a few us there she leans over the bar and speaks to me of him with tears. And all of that hardness in her melts and I see a goodness in her that is as real as the sun. And I hug her, too.
Bars are great places to observe humanity, to be reminded that yes, our troubles are all the same. Sometimes we need a place to lay our troubles down for a bit and rest in the company of the openhearted where we settle a while to sigh and let go and have a few laughs.
The lights are low and the music just right and soft conversations are taking place around me. There is a hominess to the surroundings, a strange comfort in the presence of these unknown friends. More lines from the “Cheers” song play in my mind…
"Making your way in the world today
Takes everything you’ve got;
Taking a break from all your worries
Sure would help a lot.
Wouldn't you like to get away?"
© 2012 Timothy Moody