by Akim Reinhardt
During high school, my friends and I used to drink at a local Irish bar. And when I say Irish bar, I don’t mean some contrived yuppie shit hole with an Irish name, a bunch of Gaelic tchochkes splattered across the wall, and overpriced pints of Guiness poured poorly. I mean a working class bar in the Kingsbridge section of The Bronx where Irish immigrants drank, mostly bottles of Bud emptied into small, stemmed glassware. Whatever’s cheap.
The place was called Harper’s. The clientele was mostly old men, with a cacophony of younger people occasionally crowding in on the weekends. Me and my friends started drinking there when we were 16. The legal age in New York was still 18, and neighborhood bars usually didn’t care so long as you were within a couple of years. I didn’t bother buying a fake ID until I went away to college in Michigan. At corner bars in The Bronx, no one even bothered to ask.
Harper’s was the kind of quiet hole in the wall where nothing was happening, but anything could happen and it wouldn’t surprise you. Like out of the blue one night, some guy setup a guitar and small PA, and started singing sad sap Irish folk songs like “I Wish I Was Back Home in Derry.” Harper’s never had live music, but suddenly there he was.
No one paid attention. He never came back.
At some point you were also sure to have someone come into the bar and try to sell you something. Maybe a woman hawking black market movies on VHS, or a huckster pretending to be deaf and mute, collecting money for a fake charity, or some guy peddling roses that you could give to your lady.
None of us ever had a lady. All we ever bought was booze. Read more »