THE BAR IS THE LAST BEACON OF FREE SPEECH
The bar is the last beacon of free speech. A pedestal for the common man to speak his mind. To drink his booze, and speak his mind. The atmosphere at the right dive is loose, playful and a little mean. Vulgar. We’re all sitting here, drinking. So we’re drinking together. Let’s talk shit.
“Hey fucker. You owe me five bucks from the game last night.”
“Don’t got it. I’ll get you on Friday.”
“Got money to drink on but can’t pay me five dollars. Degenerate fuckin’ prick.” there’s no art to it. Let it fly and take no prisoners. Try to recognize when fifteen minutes pass and you haven’t stopped rambling about how our DNA was obviously altered by aliens. There’s no other explanation.
The proper ensemble of regulars is like a well cast sitcom. They provide entertainment in lieu of having to watch one.
The sometimes problem here are those indoctrinated not to take a joke. I’m convinced it has to do with cell phones and computers. There are no moments of uncomfortable silence, natural lulls or riffs. Nothing going on? Check the gadget. Ten heads in phones at a quiet bar. It wouldn’t be so bad if social skills weren’t deteriorating. When someone lifts their head from a two hour Facebook scrolling binge, and you hit them in the face with an insult because that is where the energy of the bar has shifted, he is so far out of the loop that he can’t react properly.
It’s a mixed bag. Plenty of good conversations at any bar. My gripe is boring conversations. There are certain things best left at home conversationally, and not meant anywhere near the bar. A quick mention of your dog’s upcoming surgery is fine, but an eight minute soliloquy? And don’t tell me about how you plan on decorating your living room. You can’t possibly explain in words something so visual. Leave that at home. At the bar, it’s bar talk rules.
New baby pictures, recent weddings, that stuff can slide. Helps you get to know someone. If you pay attention and get lucky, you might remember their name the next time you see them.
It really slows things down when the majority of the bar doesn’t know how to be insulted. Makes things real uncomfortable for assholes.
A well intentioned but slightly over the line joke lands wrong, and the crowd shifts. No sense of humor. A long night ahead. But like the momentum in a football game, the tide can always shift back. The crowd can always be won.