The Natural is on TV at Red’s, where I’ve come for the evening. I haven’t seen this movie in quite some time and despite my boredom with baseball as a sport, I really like this movie. This distracts me and is why I forget to take a photo of my Mirror Pond ale, served to me in a pre-chilled glass. Some things do not change.
The age range of the crowd is pretty broad, which I wouldn’t have suspected. Seems to be a strange mix of people, but it’s also packed: it takes me a few minutes to get served by someone who is too busy to take my money. It’s lively in a non-dreary way, although there is a pall of “we smoked here for 300 years” that may never leave.
However, there is a sameness to Red’s. Gambling, sports awards, neon signs, NASCAR endorsements on the walls; all representing a monotony to these places that I may need to get away from. How do these bars find customers?
To my left, I notice a photo on the wall of military personnel, signed in 2009, dedicated to the bar. There’s my answer: there is a tradition here, something about the people who come here leading to the next group of people like them, coming. It suggests that Red’s inspires loyalty and community, and that is a precious thing.
I am about to leave when it strikes me; there are people of color in this joint. It’s the first place I’ve been in in this series where I can really say that there is a mix of people who I don’t see hang out much, normally. That it took me so long to notice may speak ill of my observation skills, but I like to think that it speaks well of the bar. Anyone is welcome, so long as you’re willing to hang with us.