"It never gets any easier. You just go faster." ---Greg Lemond
"Don't buy upgrades. Ride up grades." --- Eddy Merckx
"You drive like shit." ---The Car Whisperer


Sunday at the Harp

Last night, Kevin Flynn dedicated a song to me, with his band, The Avondale Ramblers.

Considering I only heard him dedicate one song in the five years I was in Kiss n Ride with him, I was honored.

So, I'd like to dedicate this to Kevin.

Sunday morning at the Harp and Shamrock.

We walked in the door at 11, clapping our shoulders free of the blustery cold outside and brushing the dead leaves out of our hair. Inside awaits warm wood, alluring neon, and a welcoming smirk above a big hand unscrewing a bottle.

"Two bloodies, Buddy."

"Pints?" Buddy would ask, hopefully. He hated making bloody marys, as he did with any drink with more than two ingredients, and of course, we responded, "naw...highballs!" and drank them fast so he'd have to make 'em again. The smirk would turn to a sneer below the salt and pepper mustache and kid's haircut, and he slouched even more as he spiced and Tobascoed away.

In the corner was either Sean's hot dog machine, complete with bun warmer or a huge crock of chili. Either way there were several bags of potato chips as well. All that was needed was for us to dig in.

But first we'd sit along the wall under the Paddy mirrors, the framed Hubert H. Humphrey campaign poster, and the map of Europe with no England on it, and sip our drinks while the neighborhood hags and Joe Plumbers smoked by the window, their gray haze snaking around their wrinkled faces. The Bears pregame wrapped up on the televisions over the bar.

After kick off and we'd gotten our first beer, then it was time eat. There was always more than enough, and always free...for regulars, anyways. Just plop it all on a paper plate and take it back to the table and your bottle. It always seemed to me that somebody new would see all of us eating and be afraid to ask.

Those Bears games were somehow comically magical that year. Jim Miller nearly always found a way to make us laugh in disbelief at the end, to cheer and scream triumphantly in a way we never quite felt we deserved, but the joy at 3pm was genuine nonetheless.

With endorphins from the win coursing through our system, Monday felt a week away. By halftime of the second game, I'd probably moved on to Jameson, or at least began mixing it in with the rotation. The crowd would get younger and more familiar as the sun began to set. The wood glowed in the ambient light from the street lamps and the bar signs; nowhere else could've seemed more like home.

At 7:30, the afternoon games and highlights over, the evening game starting, we were in 5th gear and stopping for no one. Now it was Jameson exclusively and I was bumming cigarettes from Sean, who would occasionally come from behind the bar to take his eagle shot on the Golden Tee machine.

Game over, we turned up the juke box. Thin Lizzie, The Pogues, Willy Nelson, and Elvis; as we got drunker, our own Kiss n' Ride EP that was in there. Someone would trip, get up, order another one. Old friends came by, beckoned or by surprise, backs were patted, drinks spilled. We found a neighborhood Joe asleep on the toilet, snoring loudly. That waitress from next door I wanted to get on would come in. Somebody would try to climb over the bar. Somebody would get thrown out.

Then Sean would start turning out the lights, and suddenly Monday didn't seem so far off any more. We'd put our scarves and coats back on, slur our goodbyes, and head back out into the blustery cold.

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