You know what I miss? I miss knowing that there’s a place that has broken down old tables and chairs, cheap beers, the game on a few televisions, a juke-box full of shitty music, a fucking taco night, and a guaranteed 3 days of absolutely mayhem every end of the month, filled with fighting, barfing, crying, and public nudity. I’m talking about taverns. Some hipsters have decided to start calling them ‘dive-bars’, but take away the shiny beards, Friday night “let’s be dirty” hen parties, and beatnik book-of-the-month clubs, and leave just the toque-wearing sad old guys staring into their beers, and the dominating matriarch of brawling grannies, and it’s really just the room each city had that served booze – a tavern.
I know there are few that still exist, and I’m all for putting a new “punk rock” spin on the idea of a tavern. I love that shit. Some of the best bars in the world are old taverns that cater to the uglier side of pop culture – it really does fit very well. But, there’s something about the stripped-down ugliness of an old tavern that young folks just won’t step into. It’s the idea of having a beer without having to look at hipsters that was so appealing. Maybe that day is gone, as many of these great drinking holes, where you could get away from everyday people and hang with your pals that hate themselves as much as you do, have shut their doors.
This mainly happened when the world figured out it’s not a great idea to have cigarette smoke inside a building. I know it kills you and all that, but it was that stench and blue fog that made it so much easier to enjoy your whiskey and beer while hating yourself. When they put the smoking bans into place, the old tavern drinkers, many who were WWII veterans, decided they’d just get some beers for the house, where they could smoke all they wanted. I always hated that. I worked in a few taverns when those bylaws came into place. Although we know we all needed it to happen, I believe those old veterans should be able to do whatever they want to do, especially when enjoying a cold beer with their buddies. Well, if there were good waiters or a bartender that you could relate with (probably hating himself a little as well) then you might even find yourself laughing a little.
Heck, who am I kidding, I’ve never laughed harder and louder than sitting in a tavern on a Friday night at the end of the month, eating my cheap-as-fuck tacos, drinking huge amounts of beer, and listening to some brutal cover band butcher 80s classics – and do it with pride man, real pride. What sent us over the rails was when they got the karaoke machine out. Oh boy, the shit that would come out of those speakers was only made more horrifying when it was being done by radical karaoke extremists with their pitchers of cola and their golf claps. They really hate it when you get up there and don’t take it seriously. Let’s recap: Cold, big bottles of beer, tasty-as-fuck Old El Paso tacos, 6 drunk friends – probably cooks you’ve worked with all day, hockey game on the television, a couple of fights between old ladies over in the corner, and a right wing karaoke massacre you pour gasoline on by singing drunken versions of Elton John classics; if you don’t think that’s the Disneyland of drinking parties, then perhaps you need a beard trim or a better book.
I miss the place with the liquor that didn’t like fights, but let them happen for a few minutes, because they knew we loved them so much. I miss the place that only had small televisions in the corners we’d all have to move our chairs into a semi-circle around to see the game. I miss the place that only had one big trough for a urinal that everyone pissed in – like an old-timey saloon. I miss the place that was all kinds of wrong and all kinds of right, all at the same time. I miss the place where the waiter could be as old as my grandfather, and probably served beer to my grandfather and father before me. I like the fact that some have stayed alive, but they just seem to be falling off the map more and more. This makes me sad. They have existed all over the world, and everyone has a story or two about their favorite tavern, but today I miss the Lockmaster Tavern. Man, I wan’t those tacos.