Thursday, June 23, 2011


Tonight I came home from Linda's, my favorite bar in the world, and looked for something on Netflix to watch as I fell asleep. I found the pilot episodes of Cheers, a show I knew I ought to respect but had never paid enough attention to. Sam's rotating women, particularly Kirstie Alley, scattered my interest away from the television in my preteen years.

The opening chords of the theme song sounded better tonight than before. It might have been the beers. It might have been that my long love affair with Linda's only recently became a two-way street, a place where some of the staff knew my name as the song describes. The few who did not knew to pay attention when I addressed them by name. I go in and out of the place with a degree of informal familiarity.

It's become important these days. Life and ambition have strewn some friends up and down the coast. I already wrote about how Linda's was a good place to say good bye because it was a good place to say hello. Blah, blah, blah. What I did not write and probably failed to understand was that Linda's personifies itself as another friend who might not leave. And no, it's not about the beer, the televisions nor the proximity to campus although all those things are very nice. To be honest, I do not know what it is about. I was thankful that Cheers gave me some hints.

The second episode illustrated the first hint when a customer walked in to talk to the supposedly late Gus, a previous owner of the bar. The bartender Coach tried his best to fill Gus's absence.
Man: Get me Gus! I came all the way from Seattle just to talk to him. Gus is the man. You got troubles, you take them to Gus and he straightens you up just like that. I gotta be back in Seattle Thursday night. What am I gonna do?

Coach: Take it easy, will ya? Listen, I managed in the minors. I coached in the majors. I've been a bartender for five years. I've had my share of people with problems. Why don't you give me a try?
The flustered man explained that his son brought home a black, male fiance from school. Dim Coach was at a loss to help, so the man talked himself to the obvious solution and gave Coach all the credit. Of course these social therapy sessions were overblown in the show because the show was a show. Not even Linda's bartenders can create such a niche, but sometimes they try.

I suppose high school teachers like myself try to do the same thing. They should listen, think, advise and teach each child every day. The trouble is that they serve 20 at a time instead of one. Cheers was never too busy for this thoughtful process. Of course I have only seen the first few episodes. Maybe the Red Sox go deep in the playoffs in a later season and bring hordes of customers to Sam's counter. The Sox are in the playoffs every day at my workplace.

My adolescent clients have little tendency to tell me their problems, and it disappoints me to say I am glad they don't. Ninety percent of the girls who cry in my classroom do so for the missteps of a boy. I can't do anything with that. I doubt I even notice when a boy is upset. Cheers and my work experience suggest that emotional maturity occurs sometime after high school but before the legal drinking age. Phew.

This might be oversimplified since each high school hires counselors to do the dirty work. Teachers teach content so that students can advance their learning and, seemingly more importantly, pass state tests. This separation of duties is necessary because of the challenging clientele.

A bar does not have to teach anything nor counsel anyone. All a bar has to do to survive is be a profitable business. I know bars that profit on things besides the personal touch of good bartenders, but they are not the ones I like. I wonder if scantly watching Cheers as a child had something to do with this preference.

Something tells me I would be good at owning a bar. Years ago I thought I would be a great teacher, but that prophecy has been slow to develop. It is not yet truth. As ever, who I think I am taunts who I am with room to grow.
Making your way in the world today
takes everything you've got.
Taking a break from all your worries
sure would help a lot.
Wouldn't you like to get away?

No comments:

Post a Comment