Sunday, November 17, 2013
How It All Shakes Out
“You know, when you get old, in life, things get taken from you. I mean, that's... that's... that's part of life. But, you only learn that...when you start losin' stuff.”
— Tony D’Amato, Any Given Sunday.
Getting old…blows. And that may be the best way I can put it. I could try to twist eloquent phrases and metaphors into a melodic expression of regret and fear, but…nah. Getting old blows.
I know for some, that statement sounds amusing. They would be the 20-something set, the people still experiencing the ten years I cherish most of the 34 I’ve lived. For them, “old” is a word thrown lazily at any person or thing unfortunate enough to have been born before them. There is no “old,” only whimsical musings on the far, far, far-off future.
For others, the statement sounds downright ludicrous. Not because they disagree with the core principle, mind you; but, instead, because it’s being said by someone who’s 34 years old. They would be the 40-something set, the people who look at me and wish they still had the years I’m spending. In ten years I’ll be them, looking upon the currently-20-something set, as they bitch about getting old.
Not to get too Freudian on you, but everyone wants what they can’t have. Especially if it’s something they once had, but can’t have now. “Tis better to have loved and lost…” Bullshit. Ignorance is bliss. If you don’t know the feeling of having it, you won’t miss the feeling of knowing it.
When I tell you, now, that this post is about the closing of a bar, I’d be shocked if eye-rolling didn’t follow. Though I admit there are easy jokes to be found in me, of all people, speaking in nostalgic tones about a dirty little piece of real estate with cheap booze and cracked-pleather bar stools, understand that there’s reason for my passion. And it extends beyond $1 draughts.
Rumshakers became a part of my life more or less the instant it opened its doors in 2003. To be fair, the cheap beer and $2 shots were a big part of the initial draw. Those were the wild days, when Friday nights saw any number of us congregate at the huge Mt. Washington house where BlahBlahBlah (BBB) lived; we’d drink ourselves silly with beer pong and cards, and then hop into cabs down to the South Side to start our night in earnest. We were fresh out of college, earning our own (adequate) salaries, buying cars, paying taxes, and living aggressively. It was a love affair with the moment. So when a small new bar opened up on Carson Street, stocked with a pool table and $2 tall draughts of Miller Lite, it was inevitable that it would be added to our monthly rotation of watering holes.
It became one of our “go-to’s,” a place we could always count on to treat us well, no matter the day or time. But, at some point in the years that followed, our migration patterns shifted, and Rumshakers fell from our regular itinerary. Hey, life changes. BBB moved out of the place on Mt. Washington and went back out to the far suburbs, which ended our weekly parties. A few friends got married. I moved to Shadyside, and was suddenly within walking distance of my nightlife needs. New bars and clubs opened, some in other areas of the city. The world is an Etch-a-Sketch—nothing’s permanent.
Then, in 2009, Jay Swag became a fixture in our crew. And he brought Rumshakers along with him.
Swag is nothing if not loyal to those who he feels have earned such endearment, and Rumshakers has earned it. If you think my reflective reverence for it is funny, that’s only because Swag doesn’t write. To me, the closing of Rumshakers is saying goodbye to a friend; to him, it’s saying goodbye to a brother. During a recent visit, Swag and his roommate Canada asked the owner if they could have some kind of keepsake, something to honor a time and place in their lives that they knew they’d always cherish. There are now two beat up old barstools sitting in their living room.
Since ’09, a lot of the days and nights of Swag, Canada, and I—and, really, of everyone in our circle of friends—have involved drinks at 1224 East Carson St. Search this page for “Rumshakers” (or just click on this link), and you’ll find tale after tale. St. Patrick’s Days, birthdays, bar crawls. Dupa so drunk, he couldn’t talk. The whole shebangabang.
When I gashed open my leg this summer, it was just down the block from Rumshakers. And Jay, a bartender there, is the one who drove me to the ER. There’s a story from there that I’ve never written, purely for legal purposes. There’s one that involved a manhunt, that the perpetrator insisted I write.
I got stalked by The Ex there. While we were together, I would’ve had to have carried her over my shoulder—kicking and screaming in Spanish—to get her to go into Rumshakers. But a year and a half after the relationship ended, I got an email from her one Monday telling me she’d seen me there the previous Saturday. I didn’t sleep so well the next few weeks.
Rumshakers was where I met the man who would eventually marry the girl responsible for the deepest crush I’ve ever known (and even though they’d only just started dating, even then I kind of knew they’d end up together; which makes that memory a little more painful than most).
I still remember games of 8-ball at Rumshakers, especially those with BBB as my teammate. There were bar tabs I don’t remember closing, women I don’t remember meeting, conversations I don’t remember regretting. Photos of friends, photos of hilarity, and photos of jubilation. Moments of dancing, moments of laughter, moments of…youth.
We all get old, we all lose the things that we hold dearest. Even the superficial things, like bars we hung out at, and the fleeting connections to people we drunkenly made out with. But those feelings, the atmospheres, the friends, and those times… We’ll hold on to them forever.
Is it silly to say goodbye to a bar? Probably. But sometimes, it’s more than just the bar that you're saying goodbye to.