In Praise of the Dive Bar


It’s Friday night, 10 p.m.

You and your peeps weren’t hip enough to get invited to that chic club opening down at the corner of Seventh and Pretense, and you need someplace to go.

Time’s a-wastin’ and you need to get wasted. Your liver sighs a deep sigh.

It’s time to go diving.

The dive bar is like the “perfect 5” ex-lover you should’ve gotten over, but still find yourself rolling around in their bed twice a month (for, ummm … I don’t know … the next 2-8 years. Not that I speak from experience or anything). In other words, they ain’t much to look at, but once you’re inside, you feel pretty cozy.

The dive bar has drink specials that even affords the Coffee Can Mafia* an opportunity to get loaded in the comfort of an indoor facility. You want a shot and a beer for $3.50? Just make sure you tip, moneybags. They know you’re a hipster and not a hobo. (But, homeless chic is so ironic and edgy!)

The dive bar has 27 televisions of varying degrees of size, and they’re all tuned to Utah v. San Diego State. If the Mountain West Conference ain’t your particular brand of vodka; the friendly staff will tune the TV to the channel of your choice. You want first round NHRA Grand National qualifying? You got it, buddy. This ain’t one of them tharr classy joints that shows interpretive electronica music videos on a 72-inch flat screen for the sake of “ambiance.” Heck, at the dive bar nobody can even spell ambiance without an O and a silent Q.

The dive bar is the ideal establishment for a late-night rendezvous with a “player to be named later.” If it’s late in the fourth quarter (round here that’s around 2:30 a.m.) and you can’t seem to find the end zone, there’s always somebody there who is more drunk and desperate than you are. Always.

The dive bar typically has the best food in the city – or at least it tastes that way when you’re holding onto the bar to prevent yourself from falling off the face of the Earth. The dive bar will deep fry your stomach into a catatonic euphoria. Don’t forget to take enough to bring home, you stumbling warrior of grit and smiles.

The dive bar’s dress code follows three distinct rules:

1. Wear something.
2. Don’t overdress.
3. As the night wears on, they lax up on the first two rules.

Ever walk into a dive bar at a quarter to close, and it appears Joe Francis and Snoop Dogg are staging a full-scale invasion on good taste? Girls in stilettos (and not much else) slipping in puddles of rum and coke and vomit? Your best friend making out with the plastic tree? Don’t sneeze on the toilet … you’ll spill all the cocaine! This is one madhouse that makes me feel old just thinking about it.

After all, my late night days are juuuuuust about over. I pretty much exhausted my quota of the dive bar in the last half of my college years. Now that I’m on the shady side of a thirty age-wise, I am semi-inclined to sip on the Glenlivet and Garnacha while presenting a clean, professional image at clean, professional establishments. Most weeknights, I’m in bed or tweeting (or both!) by 10 p.m. Go ahead, call me gramps.

Except when I get that urge. That same one Brett Favre gets when he’s toiling the high school fields in the swamps of Mississippi. “Yeah, I feel like I can still play this game and compete at a high level.” Yeah, I’ve had more farewell tours than The Eagles.

I’m grabbing the boys. We’re piling into the Silver Hyundai Sonata. We’re cruising for cheap drinks and fast women – or do I have that backwards?

The dive bar beckons, and it’s time to play Lord of the Losers once again for all the marbles.

*GLOSSARY: Coffee Can Mafia – the clan of homeless panhandlers on Allen St. in Buffalo, who typically wander around a bar affectionately called “The Old Pink”

– originally published 05.16.2008 at The Love of Sports


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