I’ve tried 3 times to start this post, but none of them seemed right.
Support your local, it’s pretty straightforward. As cheesy as the Cheers theme song might be, it hits the mark pretty close.
For me, for the last ten years, I have been variously employed by, drunk at, or getting thrown out of Third and Long- by my estimation the greatest bar in New York City. Over the course of approximately fifteen hundred nights, I had every possible experience one might have at a bar, every possible conversation, I experienced the entire catalogue of human emotion, I lived fifteen hundred different experiences, I shared laughs and tears, I drank beers and lived life to its fullest and I wasted more money than I care to think about.
Third and Long was a creative outlet, a chance for me to learn about myself, an opportunity to interact with every type of person out there, an excellent source of income, a place to go when you had no where else to go, a place to send folks where you knew they’d be treated like an old friend, the best god-damned sports bar you could ask for, a place that offered you a stool when you were tired of standing.
And every man should have a place like Third and Long. A place where the bartender knows your name, a place where there was never a line- for you, a place where a twenty would last all night, a place where some of the goofy shit on the walls was put there by you, where you could walk in after a year in Australia and it would feel like nothing was different, a place frozen in time that much like a safety blanket, you could come back to at any point in your journey through life and know exactly what to expect.
Next thursday, when Third and Long shuts its swinging doors for the last time, the earth will be a little less friendly. I’ll walk down 3rd Avenue and look at the empty shell that once housed the bar where I learned how to pour a Guinness (#8,888) and how to drink one (#8,889), and I’ll feel a bit lost.
Old Dave, who would lend me books a knock down Budweisers and once did a digger down the stairs- scaring the shit out of me- won’t be there for me to buy a beer or hear about how Hemingway was the definition of man. Fowler won’t be there, having a gin and tonic or three during lunch and talking about soccer and westerns. The Candees will be watching the Pats at some other bar, I won’t be able to sneak shots with Junior while he’s working, and Fitzy won’t be bringing Ruby by.
Every guy should have that bar. Every guy should have a place where they paid one of their friends in shots to let random patrons cut his hair on a Wednesday night, where you spent 5 New Year’s Eves, working and drinking, and once making out with the girl of your dreams. Where you could watch the Mayweather/Hatton fight and get propositioned by long legged blondes on your way home, where you could yourself wipe out down the stairs and put a face hole in the wall, where you could walk in on two people going at it ferociously in the gents’ room at two in the afternoon and where you could take bets on whatever was on tv just because you were an adult with singles, and where you could throw out two guys dressed as Mexicans on Halloween because they were smashing glasses in the champagne room, and it is YOUR fucking local and they don’t get to disrespect the place like that.
Where you drank every beer on tap and cleaned up your friend’s vomit from doing the same and where you order food to as long as it isn’t from Bare Burger, and take bets on how many underage kids the bouncers will turn away on a sticky summer Saturday and where you can meet the Mayor of Waterloo, Minnesota, and hit on his daughter in law and make fun of his wife for drinking Coors Light with ice.
Your local should be a place where you can make a thousand memories and every night can blend into one, where you can turn a dull night into a Night, where you can show up after it’s closed with fresh tattoos and still get a beer, and where the bartender will put up with your shit tonight because of time served in days gone by.
So I think I’ll head down to New York this weekend. I’ll have a beer and do more shots than I intended and celebrate the old times and be a bit sad and feel the passage of time in the bar top, and I’ll talk with Curtis, the manager, and the Last Great Mayor of Murray Hill. And we’ll shoot the shit about my first day and the time he let me pass out drunk on his couch because there was no way I was making it a block, let alone to my home, and the beautiful ladies I had a chance to sling drinks with and that time I picked up a box and a rat jumped out and how I never saw him move so fast.
So thanks for the good times, the old times, the times I needed Third and Long to be a home, a hospital, a respite, a watering hole, a comedy club, a movie theatre, a date spot, and thanks to the Longs for throwing some dough together and opening the place and letting my cousin work there, and thanks for putting up with me and my knucklehead friends, and giving me a job, and letting me come back, and letting us throw All I Want for Christmas on the juke 7 times in a row, and thanks Jim for cleaning up that shit that missed the toilet on my first night on the job- you still remain the standard against which I hold all my bosses because of that.
And thanks Curt.
I think Andy accurately sums my feelings now and how you should, in general, feel about your local in The Office finale-
“I wish there was a way to know you’re in the good old days before you’ve actually left them.”