March 25, 2023

The Barroom Experiment

There are interesting people in this world, and if you go to a sports bar on a Wednesday night, and stay until last call, you will find all of them there.

    In the beginning of the night, there were only a few scattered across the barroom. Some played Cornhole, others sat at the bar, while myself and two others sat in a booth.

    With music blaring, drinks pouring, and eleven televisions played on the walls, I decided to look around at my surroundings. There were few people, but those who were there, were in groups. Resembling a tiny high school cafeteria, the bartender flitted to each of the groups like a lunch room monitor, talking and giving out the orders to each.

   A barroom full of strangers, with their location being the only common thread.

My group became tired of just sitting down in the booth, so we got up to enjoy the games – table tennis, billiards, darts, and an oversized game of Jenga – all of which were in the open space of the place. As our game of Jenga balanced on only two blocks, and towered far above our heads, two strangers from the bar came over. We all began talking, and laughing as we watched our one friend hug the falling Jenga blocks, as he shamelessly denied his loss.

Quickly excusing myself, I ran off to the bathroom, only to run directly into another customer who stopped me from going into the stall to tell me that she was “in love,” with the way I did my makeup. As we occupied both stalls, she continued to gush about my eyeliner, and proclaimed that “there should be more glitter in the world because glitter makes everything better.”

Suffice to say, she was deep into her cups. Helping her walk back over to her date at the bar, I conversed with a man with a copious number of tattoos and a Boston accent about my schooling and why we were all out on at Wednesday night.

Offering to take a shot with us, the bartender poured our little group a shot of something that tasted like mouthwash, my friends came over due to the allure of a free drink, and we all drank to Wednesday night.

Slowly but surely, the rest of the patrons joined in with our celebrations and conversations as they saw complete strangers come together to enjoy a little slice of life in a random sports bar.

I had someone critique my writing, as I refereed a game of basketball where the balls were crumpled up napkins and the basket was a trash can under the register.

There was a discussion of the latest “Game of Thrones” season, but that quickly stopped when someone frantically yelled, “I haven’t seen past season four!” He put his hands over his ears, almost spilling over the glass of wine that was next to him. I learned a little bit of French from a woman from Queens, and all about the benefits of going braless from another. Laughter was heard over the blaring music, as the games and televisions were put to the side. Shots were bought for the group of strangers by one of the men, and we each downed our own as we clinked glasses and shouts of cheers, saluti and prost rang through.

As the late night turned into early morning, the lights began to brighten as the bartender told the now congregated group of patrons that it was last call. He poured the final drinks as the conversations winded down.

Going from a party of three to a party of 20 or so, drunken goodbyes were exchanged as were promises to meet up on every Wednesday, same time and place. As we waited for a ride on the deserted city street, I realized that if a group of mismatched strangers could find a sense of comradery, then why couldn’t the rest of the world?

Everyone needs a simple place, a simple memory or a moment that they can think back on and know that it is possible to have a carefree night where no one cared about the color of your skin, who you worshipped, or who you brought to bed – a place where free thought can be had.

Where people come together to talk and drink, never getting the other’s name, but knowing a little more about them than they probably should.

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