Old decrepit house cum bar. Ramshackle charm. The air thick with smoke. Neon beer signs paste the wall. Maybe a nude painting. No windows. Dark but never gloomy. No cosmos or margaritas ordered here. This is a beer and shooters place - and cheap booze at that. Gloriously out of touch with the other bars in the neighborhood.
J, The Owner. The protaganist. Kind, generous, and compassionate. The kind of guy who when he asked you why you haven't been by in a few months and you tell him because your dad died and your rather sad these days, he hugs you sincerely, lets you cry your millionth cry, shares his own story, and gives you lots of beer. In fact, J always gives you lots of beer. So, J is the hero to all those who know him. And he's a Razorback.
Jimbo. A teddy bear of a man. Big, burly, and cuddly. He gives the best hugs. At first, he harbors a distant melancholy and you often find him slumped over the barstool. But he's the character in this story who experiences the most personal growth. The happy ending? Always a love story. He finds a lady love and now she calls him at the bar to check up on him (maybe to ask him to pick up some milk and eggs on the way home, maybe to find out when he is coming home, maybe to tell him she misses him). He is happy. He is needed. For Jimbo, The Dive Bar truly is a home away from home.
The "Kramer" (aka Do-Me-A-Favor). He's the quirky one. Nobody knows his name but your friends and you amiably refer to him by imitating his "Do me a favor" opening line (done with an accent that is a bit of Boston meets Southern?). He always starts out all his conversations with this line. He likes to ask trivia questions - which are often questions of a subjective nature (i.e., who are the top five philospers of all time?) or questions you are asked week after week. But act like it's new every time.
A typical conversation could be:
Him: Do me a favor...[emphatic flailing of the arms and gesturing with the cigarette]...for $20, what is the deepest part of the earth?
You: The Mar-
Him: The Mariana Trench
You: -iana Trench
Him: [grins...puts money back in pocket]
There is always a noticeable transformation to this character at some point in the evening. He is also a taxi cab driver so he may entertain you with sordid tales.
The Bartender. The straight man with a gruff countenance - the "soup nazi" of the bar. As endearingly crusty as the bar itself.
A DJ who plays the same songs, in the same order, every night. He doesn't take kindly to requests. He also asks trivia questions. For the night, he is in control, and you just have to accept that about him.
Tertiary characters will always include penny-pinching law school students and chain-smoking hard-living locals, but they aren't the real stars of the show. Stay tuned, they could have a starring role some day!
Finally, count on occasional special guest appearances.
Like...The owner of the sports bar down the street, always with a different lady. He's the Lady's Man.
Or The Drunk Guy Who Throws Up On Himself.
You might be thinking - dive bar? Costumes? And you would be right. In typical dive bar fashion, suits/ties, skirts, and high heels are left at the door (unless you are me because, duh, I love high heels). But there is one special article of clothing that no other Dive Bar can boast. A hat. But not just any hat. We are talking an original hog hat with the snout and the horns. And if you know where to find it, you can wear it. Because it's a treat!
Your typical oldies-soul mix soundtrack: Beatles, Donna Summer, Aretha Franklin, Rolling Stones, Neal Diamond, Elvis, and Nancy Sinatra, among other various golden oldies. Remember, there is a DJ. So sometimes you can get a special request like Afternoon Delight in. Sometimes!
The Dive Bar is the heart of a real drinking culture. You hang your hat at the door and the world of the day is, for the night, shrouded in the delightful fusion of good friends, plenty of beer, maybe some dancing, some trivia-guessing, and good times.
*I thank the lovely Morgan for her help with this post. She would make a fabulous Director of this here show.