Watering Hole

Every man needs a watering hole, a fair haven with familiar faces, a harbor to dock our tired bones, a safe refuge to take in the council of other man, and maybe have a beverage or two. The English have their pubs, the Navajo have their hogan, cowboys a campfire, your neighborhood may have its local’s bar. My friend Bill has been having morning coffee with the same group of old geezers for the last forty years.

It just depends on the man. Bill takes his watering in the morning. It helps him get his bearing on the day, his buddies make sure he’s got his head screwed on tight before he drives off into the business world. Bill’s wife gives him a bowl of cereal, has his shirt ironed and tells him diner will be waiting when he gets home, but the council of other men and a couple more cups of coffee is really what Bill needs before he starts his day. Most watering however is done after the working day is finished. A man looks forward to his stop off at his watering hole before he greets the family after his day of toil.

Larry has been completing his report of the bacteria count of ground water in the East County. His staff seems unable to compile his graphs, charts and text as he has instructed and his management is pressuring him to produce in support of a city council meeting at 7 PM. All Larry is thinking about is getting to his watering hole where he can tell someone what incompetents his staff are and what an ass his boss is; and maybe have a beer or two. This is a prime example of the value the watering hole has in our fragile social structure. If Larry didn’t have his safe haven and the ear of other men, he would most likely have let this anger and frustration ferment and foam inside of him leading to any number of different family and physical aliments.

Sometimes a man can pick up a bit of wisdom at his watering hole that just isn’t available anywhere else. Why just late night, the guy on the barstool next to me was venting that the County Magistrate was charging him $8,500 to tear down his old house. I never knew the cost of tearing down a house in Westfield County, North Dakota was so much. I even had the opportunity of enlightening someone myself. A guy with a Marine Corp high and tight haircut and a bark like Sergeant Bilco shouted, “who knows where ivory comes from, besides an elephant you ass-hole”. I remembered my fifth grade manors, raised my hand and offered up “a narwhal”.

I hope I am right about the narwhal, or I might have to find another watering hole for Tuesdays. I did offer to buy the sergeant a beer when he expressed his frustration with the spelling and his belief I was pulling his leg. Yes, the practice of buying a beverage for one another is quit normal, most often used as an expression of thanks or as a welcoming gesture to a newcomer. The Bedouin goat herders find time to gather together under the welcome shade of ones tent after a long day of doing whatever goat herders do, herding I imagine. One could get another herder a glass of tea as an offering of peace. The offender had been seen in a compromising situation with the offendee’s daughter. After the close of a successful business deal, it would be appropriate for a man to buy the entire hole a beverage to celebrate his good fortune. In any situation, a free cup of coffee or glass of beer is always welcome. Here in town, I am lucky to have two very comfortable places to rest my elbows. I’ve followed in the tradition of many American men and have joined a couple of national fraternal orders, both with well-attended bars. The first time a man walks into a never before visited establishment, he uses a calculating eye to see if the place could measure up to his criteria for a suitable watering hole. Are the stools padded, is his favorite beer on tap, is parking out back available; these are all important considerations. I find each of my two holes have very different environments. Yes, the booze is cheap at both, yes they are convenient to my house, but one place is much friendlier and more casual, and as you know, I am all about casual. I enjoy them both and have met some really interesting men there. In time, I hope some will become true friends, but for now I am happy to have them just as they are. Come on, lets go downtown and I’ll buy you a beer.


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