Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Three words I have for you...

Brian was explaining a message that JP recently left him. Though not verbatim, it went something like this:

"Brian. I have three words for you. They are three important words, and I'm not quite sure how you'll feel about me afterwards. These words have destroyed many a man, or at the very least, caused him to go crying home. And I'm sending them to you right now. To the bar. Bye."

JP was referring to Ye Old Alehouse, basically, a pub, on Germantown Pike. It is across the street from a Wawa, about three blocks away from Brian's house, and as JP has adequately termed it, at this point, it is, quite simply, "the bar." When people talk about "the bar," that's what they mean. (Following up on that anecdote, Brian went on..."And all the time this was going on, I was thinking of all the words that JP could possibly be thinking of...it's....I love you?...or....You are fat?....or...You are gay.").

In terms of atmosphere, it is somewhat hard to describe...but perhaps not at all, if in your home town you have an equivalent local pub/tavern that is also something of a sports bar, and also at times a family restaurant. It is not by any stretch of the imagination a large establishment, and the decor likely has not changed much in the past twenty years. Some of the adults there (it's not much of a hang out for college/post-college age twent-somethings) have most likely been going there for the past twenty years anyway. Why change horses in mid stream. The only thing that is particularly "Olde" about it is the facade, which resembles something of white stucco, with distinctively "European," or at least, "very old" looking effects done through beams along the edges of the structure and underlining the windows. If I knew more about Scandanavia, I'd say it looked Scandanavian. If I knew more about the building itself, I'd feel more secure in conjecturing that it was not built by Scandanavians.

This is actually a curious thought-- is its a reproduction of a style of architecture, or does it actually go as far back in Plymouth Meeting history as its facade would attempt to suggest.

The bar itself is a nicely large affair, much different from the bar against the wall that's pretty much the same around the Fordham area. The bar is in the center, curving around in a diner-counter kind of fashion, such that about 6 folks can sit around one actual corner of the bar, and not have to lean over and shout down the way just to talk to someone, just talk across the space as if they were at a round table.

When you ask for "Lager," they know you mean Yuengling- it is on tap. It comes in pints. It is about $3. And it is good. Fries, as they would anywhere else, come in a basket, oily and crunchy all at the same time. I would not be so apt to notice this, except for that not a day or two before, I was in the cafeteria, eating french fries from a plastic basket with perhaps even the same paper lining, that could, in no possible way, compare with what I was eating at the bar.

Around another end of the bar, I noticed the father of one of the kids I went to grade school with. That same father also coached (and perhaps, still does) the Instructional Basketball League, for kids aged Kindergarten through Fourth or Fifth grade. I didn't say hi, just because I'm not qutie sure how much would have come from that but an awkward hello (I don't recall ever having talked much with him before).

By way of contrast, I can't think of another place where the same group of people would seem quite as at home. P.J. Whelihan's is a happening joint for young hipsters, especially of our age, but I can't see that comparing in any way. The Blue Bell Inn has an intruiging log cabin sort of feel inside, close, but no cigar. And McGregor's, the former favorite hang out, has since burned down. I don't know if there are any plans up and coming for it, but the bulldozer out front is likely not a good sign.

Torn crimson vinyl booths, a long stretch of bar, wood paneled walls, and wall sconces from the 1970s at least...pretty much sums up "the bar."