Recently I had the great pleasure of watching a football game in a dive bar. There’s no sarcasm there, the beautiful wings of pure joy and heartbreaking pain made me feel like an actual member of this human race. Like i did when i was a child.
When I was young bars, pubs, and taverns played an intricate role. Let me explain, things were different when I was a child. The movement of hiding and shielding children from everything hadn’t quite started yet. Bars were safe places where children could have a taste of adulthood while adults could get that taste out of their mouths. .
I remember fondly running around smokey rooms, with the soft bone-crunching sound of peanut shells under my feet, taking quarters for Area 51 and Golden Tee , and, dare I say it, candy from strangers. Some would even give me sips of their drinks only to laugh at my contorted expressions. The best days though were Sundays, when the Packers were playing.
My head would float on the air of an alcohol fueled tempest of curses, cheers, “analysis”, love and hate. I didn’t understand everything that was happening on the bulbous screens. I didn’t have to. The volume of the patronage was my guide. When things were loud and tinted with laughter and celebratory words, we were winning. When the refs started to receive death threats, the words I was forbidden to say flowed freely from everyone else, we were losing. And when things turned silent, so quiet I could hear the color commentary from the invisible men, that was when it was time to find the other children and learn how to play pool.
Win or lose though, my eyes would be filled with green and gold sparkles for the rest of the day, that also could’ve been the cigarette smoke still stinging now that I think about it. Regardless, I missed those sparkles.
Thankfully I was able to catch a game in a dive, like I said. Unfortunately no one was giving me candy or change, but the old feelings were still there. The absolute thrill of being among passion was intoxicating, of course that could’ve been the free shots.
I began to realize, after the third drink was spilled on me, that I was witnessing life. Emotions, fellowship, an excuse to yell, knowing that thousands were joining you in unseeable bars and/or universes. I had forgotten that, or worse yet probably true, I felt I was above it. Somewhere in the slowly dissipating days of my past I did something or made a choice or both, and somehow it was that action that made me believe I was somehow better than those who gave me my first sip of beer. But I’m not, never was, and thank God for it, because I don’t want to be.
I used to be a part of the world, I enjoyed what living was. But if this game was any indication, regardless of the hazes, delusions, obstacles and dizzying complications of existence, I still do.