I’ll admit it; I do not belong at Sewickley’s.
The last time I was in here it was for breakfast and as a breakfast joint, it’s a different animal. The time before that however, was over ten years ago and I got the heebies and promptly left. Alcohol was definitely involved and instead of trying to endure a space where I felt I was going to feel threatened the whole time, I took off.
I get a very different vibe a decade later on a Monday. The space is the same; my beer choices on tap are Pabst and Sierra Nevada Pale.
I’m sure you can figure out what I ordered.
The bartender has a friendly/sardonic blend, not unlike a bloody mary and she calls me ‘hon’, insisting that this bar is great Mon-Wed and really only gets rowdy on the weekends. She threatens divorce and a restraining order against one of the regulars whom she has nothing against and then goes out for a smoke. There’s a quiet, insistent holler from one of the two older guys “Open bar!” but nobody makes a move. When she comes back, she sets a drink alight to make a Spanish Coffee and holds the blue flame so casually you’d think she was Merlin, bored with the grunt level magic.
I can’t say that the bar is a welcoming space for me-but who said that the bar is supposed to be for me? There is a crowd of regulars and they’ve got that long-term rapport established by loneliness and alcohol. Hell, it’s illusionary enough that the guys who called for open bar are now shooting spitballs out of thin red bar straws and singing along what what sounds like Stevie Ray Vaughn on the PA.
Mine is not to judge. The camaraderie here is its own animal and it would take me at least a month just to be accepted amongst this group. If they want Xmas decorations that metallically sing ‘White Christmas’ and make less than witty jokes, who the hell am I to tell them that their bar isn’t cool? This bar works for them and in a way I know I could fit in here easily if I put in the effort.
People need places where they can just hang out and while some might feel high and mighty making judgments and insisting that they are better than this place, the regulars drinking here are making Cheers jokes, drinking without being harassed by idiots and singing Rolling Stones songs you never heard of before. That isn’t to say I approve of the douchy behavior of some of the fools, even though their misogynist comments are reigned in by a whippersnapper barkeep, just that I get that there is a culture here I do not understand and would be unwise to wash my hands completely of.