The Local: Mulligan’s

This is one of those cases where I have trouble loving a place for what it is, instead of what it was.

Mulligan’s is a nice bar. Too many TV’s-7-but aside from that it’s fairly comfy. Dark wood, a nice long rail to sit at, the kind of bar where you can come and hang out and it even smells tasty.

I’m with a friend who has a purse she crafted a bit herself, decorating it with a Duran Druan 45. The waitress (who’s wearing a Pierced Arrows T) took a look at it and squee’d with glee. It’s a good spot for people to hang out.

The lights keep dimming though and that is a little strange.

There’s a man yelling (in a friendly way) about how the physics work out-no I don’t know what the hell he’s talking about. And there’s a very, very inoffensive selection of classic rock being played-the Band, Joe Cocker, Supertramp, Steely Dan, Joe Walsh-Mulligan’s optimizes a broad based appeal to people. I’ve brought my Dad here for eats and he had a double cheeseburger that he thought was delicious.

But I can’t come here. I don’t blame the bar, this one is about me. That I have company makes this entirely bearable, truth be told.

When I moved to Portland, Mulligan’s was Biddy McGraws, an Irish pub owed by a mother-daughter team from Ireland and it was a little crazy. Bands played in the corner that a Soprano’s pinball machine resides now. Bathrooms that were too spacious but not large enough for people. Smoke everywhere, dense and slow in the air.

A random woman kissed me on New Years Eve here once, when I was single, wandering and lonely. The kind of gracious kiss with the energy that has everyone looking at you but you’re able to walk away from, thankful for a reprieve from the wailing in your heart.

I would write here and it was just understood that this was OK. Even though it was weird, it was the kind of bar that needed a writer. Sure, I’m scribbling nearly unreadable text on a yellow pad but nobody needed to read it. They just needed to know that someone was writing. Maybe it’s an Irish thing though I doubt it as pubs have been part of the writing tradition for a long, long time.

I danced here on another occasion, surprising a girlfriend who was certain I would never dance, ever. Bagpipes, fiddles and drums had me jumping around like the kind of idiot who has just enough beer to prove his girlfriend wrong.

And then there was Theresa in the crushed velvet dress. Who was lovely, crazy and beautiful and would knock on my door at 3 a.m., whisper in my addled ear things that hotwired my brain until 5, and then she’d disappear…or crash until it was time to go for Thai food.

That place is gone, the music isn’t live anymore, the girl lost to the adventures of time. I like Mulligan’s but I can’t come here without missing, just a little bit, a part of my life gone by. Even Deschutes’ Obsidian stout doesn’t soothe the pain of an Irish bar with Guinness…though I have to say, I like Deschutes better.

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