I’ve always enjoyed the TV show “Cheers”. Not only the first time around, but also the re-runs. Like most successful sitcoms, it had not just one star, but quite a large cast, consisting of talented, humorous, interesting, and lovable characters. The scene was almost always the same, a Boston bar, where “everybody knows your name.” For all of Cheers’ patrons, it seemed to be a “home away from home.” A place where they could go to meet and associate with other friendly people, good-natured folks who, like themselves, were trying to escape at least a few of the pressures and problems of life in the real world.
Member of the Cheers cast were solid characters, and well thought out and crafted by the show’s writers. All were at least a bit bizarre, but believable and recognizable as types you just might rub shoulders with in any friendly neighborhood bar. There are usually at least a few Sam “Mayday” Malones around-good fellows who have never quite outgrown their athletic world. And tavern patrons who possess, and are ready and willing to share all of the answers are seldom in short supply. Quite often you can find a small group that includes members vaguely resembling a Diane Chambers, Cliff Clavin, and Dr. Frasier Crane, all fully qualified experts. At least one member of the group is sure to be armed with complete details regarding any subject that may happen to come and can explain them at great length. And there will always be a Norm Peterson around–the least successful but most popular guy in the place. With luck, you may be able to avoid a Carla Tortelli LeBec, who just can’t resist agitating and antagonizing certain people.
It is not my purpose in life to promote the use of alcohol. I have witnessed some of the sad and serious problems and damage that result from the abuse and over use of the spirits. And I’ve known quite a few cases that were less serious, yet good examples of occasions where a person and his or her family would have been much better off had that guy or gal spent less time at the pub and more evenings at home.
Overall, though, I don’t see anything wrong with the basic idea of the neighborhood bar. Some people seem to have a real need for a place to unwind. A friendly haven for relaxing and a bit of socializing. A place to meet old friends, and now and then a complete stranger. A place to discuss politics and compare notes on the local weather. To learn how hot or cold Efren’s thermometer registered yesterday. Also how hot or cold it was last year at this time. It’s nice for everyone to be able to find out how much water all of their neighbors had in their rain gauges on any given morning. A country bar is often a meeting place where farmers can talk about hog and milk prices. And to learn what each of the area grain elevators is paying for shelled corn and soybeans.
For working people and for unemployed job seekers it can be a valuable place for exchange of information regarding employment opportunities, pay scales, job conditions, etc.
What about you? Where do you like to hangout on a Friday or Saturday night? Do you have any stories to share about favorite neighborhood bars, clubs or restaurants and the cast of characters that make them special?
Emil Schmit is the 85 year old father of Pam Buttikofer, one of the owners of Imperfect Women. Emil continues to write although age and health issues have slowed him down a bit. He is a is a self-trained poet, free-lance writer, public speaker, and journalist. His weekly column, “Rhyme and Reason,” appeared for over twenty years in the Dubuque, Iowa daily newspaper, the Telegraph Herald. You can read more of Emil’s Bio here. The typewriter pictured on the bio page is one that he sat at for over 50 years creating many of his “rhymes and reasons.”