I came to the Triple Nickel tonight, which has always been a place that I’d wanted to call by a cool nickname, like ‘Fifteen Cents’ but that’s not really shorter than Triple Nickel. Foiled in my attempts to nickname the bar, I have walked here via well traveled streets so I could walk past the Christmas tree joint on 39th.
I’ve always loved Christmas trees. When the days come that I can no longer drink Sierra Nevada’s Celebrator ale, the pine trees will remind me of the Christmas beers. I like to sit in front of Christmas trees, the lights blending into that blue or pink that Christmas tree lights always seem to end up at, in silence. Usually, I can hear The Band’s Christmas Must Be Tonight in my head-a gift from my parents. Even without that song though, I just like being in the presence of a tree.
Portland isn’t so Christmas-y this year. I still saw houses with vivid decorations set up and these days any decorative lights feel good. Even the weird, cagelike set of lights at the Triple Nickel, but something still feels missing. Maybe I just miss the snow from last year; although the city shut down for three days, the show coated the city in a luminescence that was wonderful.
I haven’t been here in too long. A place for pool and darts, with a the light scent of chicken strips in the air, the Triple Nickel is oddly barren on a Monday. It’s weird; the bars during The Local have been strangely empty, while Bailey’s always had people. Have I been going to too many sports bars? Or is it just that sports bars are no fun on Mondays. Let’s face it, between the holidays and my random choices, it’s pretty easy to skew my perception. Things are bound to change as I go along.
I want chicken strips. I have a weakness for chicken strips, have for as long as I can remember. I’ve been in this bar long enough for the scent to exploit my desire for fried fowl. Resisting is easy; I’ve had dinner already but in the little mindfile of; places to get chicken strips, the Triple Nickel’s card has been recalled.
This year has been one where it seems hard to get into the holidays. I’m not sure why-again, it’s likely the economy is to blame but it’s also possible I’m projecting. Perhaps I just need to be amongst more lively people; celebrating the longest night of the year is easier when there’s a group of people hoisting glasses in defiance of the cold.
Which makes me feel bad; I like this bar, but my experience is not giving me much to relish. That’s not anybody’s fault; I know that on a weekend this bar is riotous and it has good bartenders with a fun crowd. One of my favorite stories has me walking into the Triple Nickel and running into an elderly couple, sitting at the bar. She called me ‘dear’ and he didn’t say much, except to smile occasionally, just enough for me to pick up that he didn’t have to say much. She could do the talking, and he could let me know where he stood with a gleam in his eye.
I could hope to grow old in such a way.
But tonight we’re all mellowed out and preoccupied, as though the day cannot end fast enough. I’ve gone against the nature of the space; it’s open and invites people to come and be festive; without that, it just doesn’t carry the same swagger.