So last week we began our romance of bars by appreciating the idea that a bar is simply a place for people to gather together. All bars, no matter how big or small, trendy or unknown, still have something of that old “public house” feel to them. It is the people not the alcohol that make bars significant.
To continue that line of thought I think we need to consider how rare this is in our day. Not that long ago you could sit in an airport and strike up a conversation with a total stranger and so pass the time. But today, if you were to try such a feat you would have a difficult time, for everyone’s head is buried in their phone or tablet or whatever. Though they are sitting right across from you they might as well be a million miles away, their conversations are stripped of the actual context in which they are having them via text messages and tweets. And so though we are more connected than ever we grow increasingly separated from those we actually share moments with in our daily comings and goings.
I believe that a bar is one of the few public gathering places that has managed to resist this trend. Not entirely of course, but it seems as if the local neighborhood bar owner knows that this invasion of technology doesn’t quite fit with the ethos of a bar. So it’s not uncommon to see signs like this:
Or check out this delightful bit of ingenuity:
But in reality most bars don’t need to to do much to overcome this technological onslaught separating our communities. The bar itself is a weapon against it, the very fact that you sit at a bar and look at a bartender puts you in a posture of conversation. Sitting shoulder to shoulder with complete strangers as you sip a glass of bourbon or ice cold beer and converse with the bartender creates a safe place where others will offer their wisdom and probe for answers.
Again, I ask you, how many other places do we have like this?
Now is some of the wisdom going to be horrible? Most likely. Is some of the conversation crass and ugly? I would expect so. But sometimes they are the very best of conversations; honest and unassuming exchanges of words where the academic, the craftsman, the laborer, and the salesman each have an equal say. The only measure of a persons qualifications to participate is to find an empty bar stool to sit upon. Such places are worthy of our appreciation.
(A tequila toast with some of my colleagues yesterday)
Take some time to get out and enjoy a local bar. Strike up a conversation with a stranger, offer a toast if you want and maybe even buy a neighbor a drink. It’s good for the soul, its good for the community, its just plain good!