Sometimes you hear the best bar story

Interesting people inside.

Interesting people inside.

So my dear wife Karen’s is off on an overnighter with her friends to Alex Bay, and Friday night wings at Chadwick’s were calling my name.

The sports bar a couple blocks from the Little Bitty in the Syracuse city neighborhood of Eastwood has owner Billy behind the bar, a good cook in the kitchen, 19 Crimes Red Blend on the shelf …

And you never know who might walk in and what they might have to say as you’re sitting there mostly minding your own business.

This time a guy I’ve never seen before walks in, declaring he’s on a birthday bus trip with friends. He’s wearing a hockey jersey. He says he told the crew to stop when he saw the lights of Chadwick’s. About, oh, 10 others, men and women, couples, walk in several minutes later. I see no signs of a bus, but I’m glad that one passenger knows Tim, my next-stool conversation neighbor as I was eating my 10 medium wings with carrot and celery sticks and blue cheese dipping sauce and sipping my wine.

New guy asks me to guess how old the Birthday Boy is. Politely I go with mid-50s. The corrects answer, I’m surprised to hear, is 68. Birthday Boy beams. Somebody hands him a beer bottle and a shot. They clunk the top of his bottle with their’s to make it foam over. Bar tricks! Laughter. I order a diet soda from Billy. I gotta drive home safely. But not yet.

A small knot of the party starts bottle-thunking and Trump-bashing and including Tim and I in the community glow before retreating to the high-tops.

Birthday Boy decides to tell us how he met his wife, pointing to the woman with the white top on over at the high-tops.

In 1983, he stepped into a now-gone bar called the Pour House West …

No, back story first. A group of women were in a Warren Street alley bar the Copper Kettle and hated it, so one of them called the Pour House West and asked the bartender how many people were there. Forty, the guy answered. How many were men? Oh, 35. So they left the downtown bar for Pour House West.

Where he ends up between her and her girlfriend. And tries to pick up her girlfriend. With no success. But as they’re leaving, the woman he paid no attention to shakes his hand and sticks a piece of paper in his hand. On it is her phone number. No name. He sticks it in his pocket. And throws the jacket on the floor of his car.

Fast forward a year. His friend asks him if he wants to go out. He says sure, picks up his jacket, and finds this piece of paper with a phone number. He calls it and says, Are you a woman, and would you like to go out with me and my friend?

She gives him an address and says she’ll be waiting outside.

When he and his friend pull up, he sees this knockout in a white tube top, shorts, and little white socks with those red bouncy knit balls on the back. He’s floored.

While they’re talking he finds out that her friend had just dropped her off at home for a five-minute pit stop. If he hadn’t called just then, they never would have met. Gotten married. Lived this happy three decades.

I walked over and shook her hand and told her how much I loved how they met. She punched his arm and rolled her eyes.

I may have botched a small detail or two but I don’t think so. I only had two glasses of wine and all those wings.

Once in a while, you hear the best bar story.

Has a stranger in a bar ever treated you like one of the crowd? Do you prefer to talk to strangers or avoid them? What’s the best bar story you’ve every heard?

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27 thoughts on “Sometimes you hear the best bar story

  1. Great story. Now, for a future post, tell the world how Syracuse Wings differ from those down the highway in Buffalo. I don’t remember if there were any in Binghamton, but then I was a vegetarian at the time …

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  2. That’s a cool story Mark. Yeah, I’ve had a few extended interactions that started with strangers in bars. I’m pretty introverted though, so I usually pull in my horns before it has gone very far, I got chatting with a very laid back and quiet African American guy in a bar in New Jersey. He was an administrator and said he had a hobby farm and had to feed his horses and asked if I wanted to accompany him. We went in his car to his property – there was just a barn with about 6 horses. He feed them while he explained that it had been family property he had inherited. It had been abandoned for some years and the only viable building was the barn, so the rest had been demolished. The horses were beautiful and were free in a fenced field. Afterwards he wanted to visit some friends at another bar,so we went there. This was a group of about 4 guys that we joined and I was not comfortable with them. I asked him to take me back to the truck at the first bar and he did.

    I guess my point is to trust your intuition when joining strangers. Have a great time.

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  3. Not related to above, but, just to say, for some reason WordPress decided to delete you from my list of blogs I follow. I thought I hadn’t seen anything from you for a while and wondered if you had stopped blogging! anyway, a little searching and, to my relief, found you again and am refollowing. And it looks like I’ve got a fair bit to catch up on.

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    • That is a terrific angle within the angle, Angie McFly. Good thinking, Ace! It would have made for great tag-team blogging if a second ear were hearing her tell her version off at the table at the same time …

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      • The inspiration comes from my parents. Each of them has a completely different story of how they met. Both equally interesting and plausible. After more than 50 years of marriage, Pay each stick to their story and laugh at each other’s version 😂.

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  4. When I was in my early 20s, my friend set me up on a double date. After dinner, we went to a bar for a drink and there I met my first boyfriend, a stranger in the bar. I don’t normally talk to strangers but that night, we were somehow drawn to each other. He asked me to dance with him and we exchanged phone numbers. And I felt kind of bad for dumping my blind date though.(≧∇≦)/

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  5. Many years ago, (pre-marriage) I am playing in one of those Sunday morning softball leagues that causes you to redefine that fine line between Saturday night and Sunday morning.

    I close my favorite neighborhood bar, get a few hours sleep, and head to the field. Despite being just 8:30 in the morning, it’s already about 80 degrees with 90% humidity. A few of us try and shake our hang-overs, so we start taking warm-up tosses in the outfield. Just before game time, our centerfielder, Tommy comes stumbling out of his car. His front teeth are chipped and his nose looks broken.

    “What the hell happened to you, Tommy?”

    He said, “I was in the old Cane Lounge last night when some a-hole came in and started messing with money on the bar and grabbing the waitress.

    “We exchanged a few words and then started throwing ‘em. He tagged me a couple of times, but I caught him with a shot and left him lying in the parking lot bleeding like a stuck pig.”

    A few minutes later, our first baseman, Ronnie – a volunteer EMT, comes out of his car looking like he hadn’t slept.

    “Ronnie, what the hell happened to you?”

    He said, “we got a call at about 3 this morning from the old Cane Lounge. It seems a couple of a-holes got in a real donnybrook and we rolled up on a guy laying in the parking lot, bleeding like a stuck pig.

    “We sat with the guy in the hospital until about an hour ago when I went home to get my mitt and cleats. If I ever find out who left the guy bleeding like that, I swear I’ll kill the son-of-a-bitch…”

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    • Now the other team shows up and one guy has a busted face. You guys say what happened to you? He says, I went out to the Cane Lounge minding my own business last night and when I tried to went to pick my money off the bar and kiss my girlfriend bartender good night, some a-hole started whaling on me …

      Now that would have completed the circle, right?

      Great story, JJ. Thanks for sharing, my friend.

      Bars are awesome. Emergency rooms for stories, too, I guess!

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