After a remarkably long day helping a friend hang a whiteboard, I swing by the Yamhill Pub on my way home. One of Portland’s more famous dive bars, even this place has been affected by the craft beer world; I see taps for Culmination, Lagunitas, Deschutes among others. So who knows what I’m going to get?
A man wearing a shirt that says “Worlds Okayest Bartender” asks me what I want and I look at a fellow next to me whose bearded face is a little concave at the lips and ask him what he’s drinking.
“This here is the Pabst Blue Ribbon beer; they won that in 1893,” he tells me. Of course.
“They been riding award that for a long time,” I reply.
“Well they don’t call it ‘Rainier Blue Ribbon’,” the bartender says, and I ask him to give me a PBR.
With a noir film on one TV (an amnesiac detective searching for his identity), Dragonball Z on the other, Pogues on the juke and light low enough that I retain my handsome features this is what dives feel like. The PBR has a nice malt bit, along with the corn undercurrent that I could do without, and the whole scene is being interrupted by the bartender checking the IDs of a group of suddenly appearing strangers.
“They’re startin’ the dancing,” the concave faced man says.
“That mean it’s time to go?”
“Not quite. But they’re gonna try Irish dancing there,” he tilts his head to the corner where….there isn’t enough space to tango, much less dance.
The concave fellow is a bit withdrawn, perhaps disconcerted by the appearance of so many strangers in his bar-and for whatever else is going on here, it’s a magnet for strangers, a place where hipsters can go to say they went.
Yet it’s also got a community of regulars, he’s clearly one of them, and the presence of these people slumming it has him uneasy. But he’s getting to watch Dragonball Z and seems content. As a Saturday night plan goes, I can’t say I object.
The bartender quickly tells a story about kicking someone out yesterday-someone who tried to dance in a space that doesn’t have space.
” ‘Fuck this place ’cause it’s a fuckin’ dive bar’ ” he mocks the customer from last night. “Damn right it’s a dive bar; if you want to go somewhere where they suck up to you, then go somewhere else. Come here to be depressed like a normal human being,”
Not bad for the Worlds Okayest Bartender.
Today’s second pint goes to Spread The Vote.