By Jamie Swinnerton
By Mark Antonation
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By Jonathan Shikes
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By Cafe Society
By Juliet Wittman
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When purchasing a home, you must consider many points. The location needs to be somewhere you'll feel safe -- and must also have good resale value. When the time comes to sell, it's difficult to cut a deal if your potential buyers are abducted from the back yard or clipped by nearby highway traffic. Good schools and parks are important, as is easy access to Starbucks and the Safeway and King Soopers that will inevitably be across the street from each other. Of course, the number-one criterion should be whether there's a good bar within stumbling distance of your front lawn (should you be too exhausted to make it the last twenty feet to your door).
Several things make a good bar. A good bar has Guinness on tap; Guinness in a can does notcount. There should be, at most, two American-made, mass-produced pseudo-beers. A good bar understands that an "imported" beer comes from across an ocean, not across state or county borders. Slapping "Irish" in front of "Killian's" does not make this liquid that tastes like red dishwater strained through week-old dirty socks a real Irish brew. Likewise, Fat Tire, an excellent beer, does not qualify as an import just because you wouldn't use it to clean your oven, as you would Budweiser or Miller. A good bar will not charge you an extra two bucks just because you value your tastebuds. A good bar has a jukebox with music made no later than 1985, which plays that music at a volume that doesn't cause your ears to bleed. Even more important, the music is turned off during a big game, because there's no sweeter music to the guy ear than Keith Jackson on a Saturday afternoon or Gary Thorne announcing a hockey game. A good bar's decor consists primarily of TVs and scantily clad women hawking bad beer (the only valuable contribution of big American beer companies). A good bar has a variety of video golf, hockey and trivia games to keep a guy busy for upwards of five hours when there is no game on.
As a first-time homebuyer, I was unaware of the importance of the neighborhood watering hole -- probably because I grew up in Minnesota, where almost every corner in every town has at least one bar. But I lucked out last year and bought a place that just happens to be a block from the College Inn (4400 East Eighth Avenue). This bar meets all of the above criteria, in addition to hosting a killer Friday happy hour with good drink prices and enough grease-laden food to choke a horse. I've often walked out of the College Inn feeling like a choked horse, but that's not the point.
The point is that despite its being an excellent bar, the Inn has not yet enacted a policy barring morons from the establishment. I'm not talking about the benevolent moron who gets busted peeing in the women's bathroom (you know who you are), but the kind of idiot who cannot handle friendly competition. Guys are well-known competitors. While most guys can't manage to pick up dirty underwear that's been sitting on the bathroom floor for more than a month (granted, without the valued help of our female counterparts, we wouldn't even notice it), those same guys have no trouble scooping up a high hopper and turning a beautiful double play. Because we have to win. We have to win at everything: games, tests, who's got the coolest car, who's got the biggest TV, and any other endeavor that (to women) requires some useless skill or knowledge.
One of the most competitive bar activities is the video trivia game. This activity plays to the crucial guy-survival abilities of storing volumes of trivial facts, displaying good hand-eye coordination and possessing cat-like reflexes. I've blown hours of my life on College Inn video trivia that could have been used for more important things like finding a cure for cancer or changing my oil, but this game is addictive. As the points rack up, you start taking note of who else is playing, and soon you're embroiled in a conflict the magnitude of the first Gulf War. Mind games start, dirty looks are thrown, cheers and jeers cloud the air -- and this is just among the guys at your table. But no matter how bad the trash-talking may get, everybody celebrates a well-played game with another round of drinks before starting on the next one.
Except for one recent evening, when we found ourselves competing with a group of younger guys who apparently had their mothers fight all of their battles when they were kids, because they did not like the psychological warfare being waged. Our weapons were snide laughter and a dominating knowledge of a wide variety of subjects; we got them completely off their game. They focused on glaring at us rather than answering questions and finally were so embarrassed by their poor performance that they slunk off with only a word. And I'm still wondering why they used that one word to call us something that sounded a lot like "basspoles."
If you haven't already found it, I encourage you to get out and discover a neighborhood bar where you feel comfortable and have no need of a car. Grab a beer, sit down and join the fun. And remember, there's nothing trivial about a good bar.