Monday, February 24, 2014

Mini Marvels: The Small-Town Bar

Mini Marvels. I'm not talking tiny superheroes. (When I wrote "superheroes" the first time I actually wrote "super-hoes." It's Monday.) 

A mini marvel is a quick snapshot of something interesting or exciting or otherwise noteworthy that happened in my life. You might not read all of it, but it's one of those things I like looking back on. Which is the point of a blog, right? :)

This one is called "The Small-Town Bar."

Me, Tom and my stepbrother Trey at a Japanese Steakhouse this weekend. (Just before our bar adventure!)

Tom and me at a rare bar outing in November

Once 9 p.m. hits, I call it a night. I rarely stay out past that hour anymore. I prefer the early morning hours, when most people are quiet or asleep or at home eating breakfast. That's when I like to go out in the world. Because of that, I don't frequent many bars.

We walked into the small-town Missouri bar last Saturday night at 9:15. For most people there, the night was just beginning. We were there to watch a band play for my stepmom's promotional work. The band members were in their fifties and sixties and had the energy of twentysomethings.

Tom and I sat back by bar, watching the crowd from behind the action. We are drawn to dark, quiet corners where no one will talk to us, and that's where we ended up here. An empty wall by the pool tables. We split a rum and coke and a water and talked about our future dog. (Boxer or French Bulldog?) I set my knees between his and we created our own little corner of the place.

We were only approached once by an older man who'd had too much to drink. He was saying something about us playing pool and how I should play because I just might "kick my husband to-be's ass at it." 

It was smoky in the bar, and because Illinois has laws against indoor smoking, Tom and I weren't used to it. After the man was done talking to us, we stepped outside for some fresh air. It was chilly outside that strip mall, hovering just above freezing. And when it was time to walk back in again, the sound of the music and shouted discussions, combined with that classic smoke-and-beer bar smell, was nearly painful.

But then, we were engulfed in it. We sat down near my family at the very front, watching the band. I was distracted by the whole feel of that place. Bars in big cities are filled with people wearing hundreds of dollars in clothing and downing that same amount in booze. But here, a group of women who looked like they strolled over from the PTA meeting jumped up and danced along to "Sweet Home Alabama." They wore Walmart mom jeans and curly mullet hairstyles and danced the whole time. 

They didn't look around to see who was watching. There were tatooed people, people who were at least 80 and people who likely had motorcycles parked out front. All of them mingled together.
There were couples, too, and they slow-danced to the band's cover of Eric Clapton's "You Look Wonderful Tonight." Tom and I joined that very diverse group. We love to dance together. We may spend the whole night avoiding human contact, but play us a good song and we'll happily be the only people on the dance floor.

The main singer's son got up to sing a song. No one expected much of him. But when he belted out the first line of "Friends in Low Places," everyone was shocked. If I closed my eyes, I could swear Garth Brooks was on that stage.

I have visited plenty of bars throughout the country, and I always prefer small-town, rural bars. Walking through those doors is like stepping into the heart of America. It's beer and music and hard-working people unwinding at the end of their week, and there are all kinds of camo and beard combinations. The people are nice. They aren't there to put on a show . They're there to meet with their friends and the bar regulars to catch up on the week they've all had. It's unassuming, but like the singer's son, you would be surprised at what you might find in a little place like that. 


  1. Never been to a small town bar but it sounds interesting. If I were to go to one, you'd probably find me in a dark, quiet corner too haha.
    p.s: I also like your series title. Mini Marvels is catchy :D

    1. Thank you! :) You should go, for the people-watching if nothing else. It's pretty entertaining, and you never know quite what you'll get!


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