Monday, October 26, 2009

#7 Dive Bars

"Where should we go?"
"I know! There's this great place called Grimey's. Cheap beer, a bunch of regulars, it's awesome, follow me!"

And so there you are. Feet sticking to the floor where a thousand drunks have spit, drooled or spilled their beer and bourbon. The yellow-red light bouncing around the place. The palpable sense of hopelessness and despair. A couple of 50-year-old alcoholics glaring at intrepid you. And you, you trying to act like this is all perfectly normal; you act your absolute coolest with the overweight and lazy bartender who repays you by adamantly refusing to suspend disbelief and treating you like you don't belong. Oh and what's that playing on the Jukebox? "Downeaster Alexa" by Billy Joel?! Awesome!!!

Well, it isn't awesome. It sucks. Invariably. Dive bars suck. I mean I know the booze is a bit cheaper, and that's great and all but really, is the extra dollar or two you're saving per drink worth all this disgustingness? Slumming it is stupid, it is; it's simultaneously disingenuous and condescending. Are we so ashamed of our preference for nice things that we have to wallow in this filth just to make ourselves feel like we're not privileged even though the entire experience of being in the dive bar only literalizes how out-of-place we are? Isn't your disgust at the fancy-pants snoots at the nice, upscale bars really just disgust and shame directed at your reflected selves? The fact is, a nice uptown bar in a hotel or some such is going to be better in every possible way.

First, no one will look at you (RIGHTLY) like you don't belong (because you, my readers, don't belong at the dive bar, you don't, you're not "down" with the "people." If you're under 50 and you have a college degree you are OUT. You're privileged. Even if you have no money, you are still privileged and do not belong with those people...they know it and you know it, so stop pretending, because it's unseemly .). Second, the bathroom will work and afford you privacy or not make you want to kill yourself. Third, there will be plenty of places to sit, comfortably, at a table or at the bar, like a real-live adult, instead of surrounded by either people who are nothing like you or people who, like you, are trying desperately to be something they aren't. Either way, you'll be yourself and not some complete douchewad pretending your life away. Finally, the place will be nice, pleasant, you won't stick to anything, the lighting will be muted, neither too light nor too dark, the decor will be unobtrusive and will not pride itself on its obnoxiousness, tastelessness and/or low-scale destitution. In short, you will have a simply wonderful time, I promise.

All tolled dive bars are fine for their audience but that's it. They are not for you. Drink someplace nicer where you can ask for the top shelf stuff and the 55-year-old bartender in his bow-tie and sock garters will call you sir and make you a Don Draper-worthy sidecar.

The next time you and your friends find yourself at one of these dive bars (named "Flippo's" or "The Absolute End of the World" or "Grotesquerie" or, worst of all, "Dive Bar") and you're squatting there in the bathroom, staring at the drunk-retarded mutterings that seriously call into question the lasting value of the human race etched into the wall of the commode because that's the only place you can look without vomiting into your mouth, ask yourself whether the 3 dollars you're saving on that pitcher is really worth it. Ask yourself if you're just trying to prove something (i.e. that you're not a privileged little twit) that isn't really worth proving both because a) it's untrue and b) because lowering yourself to this level only re-enforces your pampered twittery. I think you'll find, if you're not too drunk and full of your own bloated self-importance, that you don't belong there.

So get up! Get up now! All of you! and leave the dive bars to those who have truly abandoned their hope. That's what they're there for. And you are just making them more miserable by sitting there, trying to take part, like the absolute worst kind of tourists. Unless your goal is to actually become one of those people (i.e. a miserable alcoholic shell of a human being) which honestly I have absolutely no problem with whatsoever...seriously, if that's the choice you want to make, go for it, but don't half-ass it and just visit and call it "awesome" or "fun" or "more real" because it's none of those things. If not, go to your own bars and leave them be. They are not for you.


  1. isn't that the point, though? I mean, I don't like myself that much, why would I want to get drunk with a bunch of myselfs? Alcohol is supposed to tear down these walls!

  2. But the walls are there for a reason. And honestly, I mean for the most part, going to dive bars doesn't tear down any walls, it just brings the walls into the bar.

  3. We had some fun nights in Timboo's back in the day. I think.

  4. True enough. Such are the lessons of years.

  5. Ahhh yes. If I ask for a Black Russian and the bartender calls me a "[racist remark] luvin' sum b*tch" then that just isn't my kind of place. Sad thing is, if these places have top shelf they will charge you a FORTUNE for it. You'll wish you had gone to a nice bar and paid $8.00 for that Bombay Sapphire gin martini instead of the $12.00 you just paid.

    And if you're in a college town? Forget about it. Nicest drink they have there is cheap scotch they serve you in a plastic cup. I even asked for it "neat" and had to explain it to her. The bartendress looked at me like I was crazy, she didn't know what neat meant. But she sure looked good, guess that's the only qualification you need to work in a dive in a college town. Fake boobs - check, pasty smile - check, can keep inventory of the 700 cases of Keystone Light and Natural Light - check. Ugh. Oh well... at least there was cake.