the point

Okay, this happened. On social media, I posted a photograph of…well, wait. Let me just show you the photo, that’ll make this easier.

That’s it. It’s not anything remotely artsy; it’s just an interior shot made from a corner booth. The primary reason I shot the photo was because it amused me; it’s a classic private investigator perspective–back to the wall and a view covering all three entrances and exits. (Yes, I worked for about seven years as a PI specializing in criminal defense, and yes, I actually did pay attention to those things back then, but no, it’s not really a concern to me anymore, but yes, it’s still sort of a habit.)

A friend commented, casually referring to this as a ‘dive bar’ and adding “…or what we call here, ‘the pub’.” (‘Here’ in that context meant Ireland.) And for reasons that probably don’t bear examination, I felt compelled to point out that this place is NOT a dive bar. Or a pub. It’s a sort of combination roadhouse and bicycle bar.

Because this is how my mind works, I’ve spent a few idle moments (well, maybe half an hour) thinking about the taxonomy of drinking establishments. Obviously, there’s no universally agreed classification; there’s no International Organization for Standardization overseeing drinking establishments. BUT there IS a history.

On the outskirts of town, along a road and bike trail — bicycle roadhouse.

The Roman tradition of conquering places and fucking around with local cultures and norms relied heavily on their ability to build and maintain a network of roads. Along those roads, they created tabernae–rude sheds and shelters where travelers could refresh themselves with food and drink, and maybe a safe place to sleep. Eventually, taverns began more like houses open to the public, and local folks would gather there to get news from travelers over a friendly ale. Public houses–pubs–became central to neighborhoods. Public houses located outside of town (or on the outskirts of town) generally provided rowdier entertainment–roadhouses.

Now there’s an entire constellation of drinking establishments. We still have pubs, some towns still have taverns that also act as inns (though those are largely supplanted by hotels and the hotel bar), we still have roadhouses. But we’ve also got dive bars, which are sort of low-rent pubs devoted to serving local folks inexpensive drinks without a lot of fuss. We’ve got bicycle bars for thirsty cyclists, and brew pubs for beer connoisseurs (from the Latin cognoscere, meaning ‘to know, to understand, be familiar with’), and concept bars that are devoted to a specific theme (like zombies or hobbits or steampunk or bondage), and sports bars with eighteen large-screen televisions showing a disconcerting number of sports events, and cocktail bars where beer and ale is spurned in favor of spirits, and wine bars which you can figure out yourself, and pool bars (both swimming and billiards), and population bars directed at specific groups (like LGBTQ or veterans of foreign wars) and I’m probably forgetting several other types of drinking establishments.

My point is…well, I’ve forgotten what my point was. I definitely had a point when I started writing this. I wonder what happened to it. Somehow I seem to have gone from looking at things from a PI perspective to tavern taxonomy to the fucking Romans to a semi-random rambling list of bar types. A point could get lost anywhere in there.

Turns out, that photo at the beginning did NOT make this easier.

Uh…how ’bout those Red Sox, huh?