You know, one of those places that just feels like you've come home?
Like Norm from Cheers?
I have one of those...
It's just a small little place, still decorated from the 1960's. Complete with wagon wheel light hanging above the horseshoe bar.
I've been going there for years. I know all the people that work there. And they all know my name. I don't ever have to 'order', as I'm a creature of habit and get the same thing every time I'm there. They even know how to time it. Put the order in when the first drink gets down to about there...
It's seamless. It's comfortable. It's a 'no brainer', if you will.
All I have to do is show up.
Last week my favorite little hole in the wall replaced some kitchen equipment and closed for several very long days. I kept forgetting. I would head there only to be disappointed that they were still closed for the remodeling. I would approach and see that they parking lot was near empty and silently 'hooray' that I wouldn't have to wait for a bar stool. And then I would see all the chair turned up on the tables and realize that indeed they were still...closed.
I can live without going there, but because I knew that I couldn't order my normal bowl of spicy garlic wings...I had an almost insatiable craving for those messy things.
And others just won't do. I've tried. They have to be Herb's wings.
They re-opened yesterday.
Just before the dinner rush.
And what a rush it was...
The place was packed. Most of us regulars were there clamouring for our favorite spots at the bar. Some had to linger in the background as their weren't enough seats. Or grab a table, God forbid. All the conversation happens at the bar.
Because of it's shape, it's not unheard of to have the entire bar involved in some conversation or another. It can range from every topic imaginable. Newbies there probably feel a little irritated with people talking over them while they eat, but this is a Herb's tradition. And one that won't die easy. If you don't like socializing, sit at a table. Don't take up precious bar space.
There is a great mix of people who are regulars at Herbs Tavern. The walls show all of the history of the place. Old photos and memorabilia adorn most available space. Not the generic kind like at a TGIFridays, but personal stuff of people that have been there through the years.
One of my favorite people to saddle up by is Clarence "Clancy" Shaffer. He's in his 100th year of life. On September 19th, 2010, he'll be the grand age of 100. I asked him whether he's excited that he'll get a nod from the President when he turns 100.
"Bah. I've already met 10 of them. United States Presidents, that is."
I bet he has. I love Clancy. He's got some fascinating stories. I want to write them all down.
He won a silver medal for boxing in the 1921 Olympics. He raced in the Whitbread Challenge and just recently sold his sloop that used to belong to JP Morgan. Clancy's a big game hunter and has ventured far into untamed regions that we only view on NatGeo or read about in magazines. He's an inventor that has credited to him manufacturing the A frame rafter used to support most homes.
There are a gazillion more things that Clancy has done. It's always fascinating. His wife Gertrude died a few years back. They were married for over 70 years. She was 94 when she passed.
Clancy orders the same drink every time he's in.
Vodka and tang. With 12 Sweet & Low's. In a tall glass. He orders two each visit. No more. No less.
I've come to believe that it's all the preservatives in those little pink packages that may just be responsible for his longevity. They are preserving him, 1 gram at a time.
He's always in a suit coat and tie. He tells me he owns 92. I believe him. I don't think I've seen him in the same one twice.
If Clancy's there, expect an hour long conversation. And then he'll pat your hand, kiss your check and drive the 2 miles back home in his big Buick. On parting he always says, " I hope to see you again."
I hope I see him too. I suppose at 99, seeing anyone at least one more time is definitely a bonus.
Sometimes newbies will question the presence of this older man at the bar drinking his peculiar concoction. Most are enamoured. Clancy's like a rite of passage into whether you're new or a regular.
But there are a few that just seem to have no respect for their elders. There were a young couple in last week sitting at the bar and snickering amongst themselves at Clancy's expense. It angered me.
When Clancy left to use the restroom, I asked them, "Do you know who that is?"
"Noooo. Just some smelly old dude." giggled the bimbo.
"Uh. Yeah. No. That was Clancy Shaffer. He's 99. And has done more in his lifetime than you ever will do in yours. Have some respect."
They left shortly after. They don't deserve a space at the bar. Our bar. My bar. They weren't part of the regular clientele. You have to earn that.
There is a drawback for being a regular. People know you. There is a camaraderie amongst those familiar faces. It's very easy when they are all there to get over served...
People are always buying rounds for each other. Last night I had 2 shot glasses denoting a free drink, overturned in front of me almost the entire evening. Maybe it's because everyone was there. Lance and Heather, Pam and Dave, George, Kurt...everyone. Add to that that Dean and Lisa got married, the evening turned out to more festive than usual.
It was like being at a reunion with everyone that you want to see.
A good time was had by all.
Perhaps too much of good time. If that is possible.
I drank 7 bottles of water from the time I went to hit my bed to present. I guess I'm trying to flush all that excess from my system.
"Hot pipes", some people call it.
And that's what I have this morning.
I stopped drinking soda awhile back, but I crave bubbles today. What I wouldn't give right now for a Diet Coke. I just may have to break my 'No soda" rule.
And junk food. A Big Mac would be awesome. And some fries.
Yeah. That's what I'm going to do.
I'm going to go to McDonald's and get me a Big Mac meal. Consume 120% of my daily allowance of caloric and sodium intake in one. big. meal.
And then...I'm going to nap.
It's 9am and I'm already scheduling in a nap.
Life is pretty damn good.
It's a glorious day. It's looks to be one of the last great weekends of the year before the nasty weather is headed our way. The remainder of the week is going to be 30's a wet. So I will get my 'sorry over served ass' up and out to play in the leaves today. I must.
But right now, I'm planning my junk food bliss.
As if all those wings last night weren't enough.
The leaves can wait just a few more hours. Or days.
I've got to rid myself of these 'Hot Pipes'.
But it sure was fun getting them...
Addendum 2:20pm: I've had my BigMac (delicious) and my fries. But decided instead of the Diet Coke to go for the Iced Mocha. I mean, why not?
I've also managed a short nap AND taken the dogs for a long walk AND played in the leaves with then down at the beach.
Life IS good.
And I'm not talking about the T-shirts.