It was a night like many others where my destination included a few bars in which I would sample a flurry of alcoholic concoctions. However, tonight I was in the company of a couple of newer friends in a city where I have only been during the daytime. A visit to the art museum down the street would generally be followed by a short walk and a stop in one or maybe two bars as a cap to the trek northward. This time, I was there at night, on a bike, with the sole intention of visiting as many bars as possible in one evening. It was our two-wheeled version of a pub crawl (a pub-pedal, if you will). My friends, Jake and Mike, were from the recently formed Bradenton Bearded Bike Brigade. They are a couple of Jewish twenty-somethings that invited me to join them on their adventure. I was merely along for the ride, and it was indeed a ride to remember.
We rode through the streets past many drinking establishments to get a feel for the area before we settled on our first destination. Throughout the evening, we made numerous stops at a handful of bars. Some of which are not worth detailed descriptions. However, the terminus of our alcoholic expedition is what gave me the fodder I needed for another story. Me and the two self-proclaimed “chosen ones” I was flanked by that night had seen a place called “Fubar” on our initial ride through the streets of downtown St. Pete. We originally hadn't planned on going in there, but after a couple of other bars had requested a cover charge upon entry, we decided it didn't look so bad after all.
We walked into the bar that had a jumbo neon Pabst Blue Ribbon sign hung ominously in the front window. We expected the crowd, the ambiance and the beer selection inside to match the facade. We were wrong. The patrons came from all walks of life, and came in many different shapes and colors. Black men with stiff-billed baseball caps were seen sitting at high top tables with Hipster white kids dressed in khaki shorts and Oxford shirts. The music that blared through the sound system was equally as diverse. Wu Tang Clan was playing when we entered, and was immediately followed by the melodic metal sounds of DragonForce (a welcomed sound on both ends of the spectrum). As was our luck, the beer selection was as diverse as it was delicious. I selected an IPA, while Jake (aka Jew #1) went with a St. Bernardus (10.5% alcohol by volume), and Mike (aka Jew #2) was swayed by the neon sign and loudly a PBR.
I couldn't help but think about the age-old jokes as we entered the bar that night. I though to myself, “Two Jews walk into a bar....” I looked around at the other patrons and saw a series of other “... walks into a bar jokes” that could be made. I then wished for every character from all those jokes to be mingling amongst us in Fubar that night. I drifted into though as to what those conversations would entail.
I imagined a horse and a giraffe ponied up to the bar together (yes, I'm okay with the occasional pun). The horse would nay angrily, his long face smeared with a frown as he discussed Sex and the City with a his giraffe confidant. The giraffe would counter his hatred with his own disgust. Snorting woefully about all the “high ball” and “long neck” drink jokes he'd heard every time he talked to the snarky bartender. A pirate and cowboy talked loudly by the jukebox. The cowboy tried to explain in language the pirate could understand that he is more than just two six-shooters, a horse and a pair of chaps.
He would exclaim, “I am a complex individual with feelings and a sense of adventure.”
The pirate would retort by saying, “Yarr, all I ever hear is jokes about me having scurvy or wondering where me booty is. I is more than just a peg leg and a bottle of rum. I is a man with a lifetime of stories that nobody wants to hear me tell the tales.”
The Irishman and the Polak, at a table by themselves, would sit discussing xenophobia and the generalities that plague them in the United States. The Irishman swaying on his stool would explain that although he does occasionally go into a bar, it is not uncommon for him to leave the bar as well. No matter what the bartender might lead you to believe. The Polak would respond by saying he has never walked into a bar carrying feces just to show everyone what he almost stepped in. In fact, he had never knowingly carried feces, nor had he ever wanted to do so.
The priest and the nun would not step one foot in the bar that night, but rather they would stand outside watching these characters from afar. The priest would bless them as they went by and the nun would silently pray for their souls. They explained to one another that they would never do the things so many had attributed to their ilk, for they were a reverent people with not one ill-intentioned bone in their pious bodies.
Each generality would be met with a worthy counterpoint. Blacks, whites, Nazis, clowns, deaf, dumb and blind people all living together as one in a sort of Utopian bar experience. I laughed heartily to myself as I imagined them in one place drinking PBRs in harmonic bliss. That is, until I was snapped out of it by the realization that my two friends had left me there to pay the bill.
I tried not to make any generalizations about them, but I couldn't help myself. I didn't make them leave the bar without paying their tabs. I was in full daydream mode, but that was no excuse. I guess I got what I deserved for not paying attention. It was getting late, and I was their ride home. I walked up to the bar, gave the bartender my credit card to run the tab, begrudgingly paid a 20% gratuity, and met my two friends outside. They knew what they had done. I knew this because I was met outside by two smiling faces. Sheepishly smiling faces.
A grin replaced my frown as I thought to myself, “Two Jews walk out of a bar...”