The Neighborhood Pub
Posted on February 8, 2011 by Joshua Nathan Doty
A life philosophy that I try to elevate in my life every day is something I call “The Four Fs – Family, Friends, Food & Fun.” Besides the obvious things we need to live, like basic nutrition, water and shelter, these things are vital for our survival, and we don’t truly need much more than that. But in this country, with all of our technology and materialism, a philosophy so simple seems harder to maintain with every passing day. The neighborhood pub helps me include these things in my life.
Last time, I spoke about spending years worth of Fridays at the McMenamin’s Six Arms on Capitol Hill. Still there of course, the Six Arms was the neighborhood pub of choice for me and my coworkers nearly every Friday night after work for years. We would walk from the Kinko’s at the Convention Center and order pint after pint after pint and smoke entire packs of cigarettes; contributing plenty of secondhand smoke to our friends working there and all the other regulars. Plenty of time was spent bitching about work, but that would usually be replaced with plenty of social ribbing and comic levity. Once we were all well-lubed there would typically be some kind of heavy conversation about religion or politics supplanted with more ribbing and comic levity. Friendships made at work were deepened while consuming gallons of beer and sharing a large tab with recent paychecks. The friends I made then make up a significant part of my social circle to this day, more than fifteen years later – some of the best friends a person could ask for.
In 2007, my wife, my two young sons and I moved half way around the world. We sold our house and our car, gave up our pets, packed and stored or shipped everything we owned, and moved to Edinburgh, Scotland; one of the most exciting, nerve-racking, and incredible things I have ever done. One of the things that made it all easier was my neighborhood pub! Our first apartment, while only temporary, was at the other end of the block. Once or twice a week I walked down and had a bite and a few pints, and soon was regular enough to make conversation with some of the other regulars. After a month we moved. We found a new flat and it was close enough for me not to need to change pubs. I still went once or twice a week, watched some footy on the telly (um, “soccer”), met new people, told my story, listened to theirs, made casual friends, and the whole thing made me feel more welcome in a foreign land. These pub goers are pros, by the way. It didn’t matter what day I happened to choose to go, the true regulars of the Hopetoun Inn in Edinburgh were there! 4:00pm on a Sunday? Yes. 6:30 to 11:30 on a Tuesday? Yes. A select few would be there for hours every single night. Yeah, I know we consider that a problem, or we would call them drunks, but the pub was their home while not at home. They would laugh together, fight over football, get into it with each other, and bear hug each other as they left to go home. I barely understood a word they said, but that was part of the fun. Yes, it’s probably not the healthiest life to live, but it’s their version of The Four Fs.
And now, here I sit at The Pub at Third Place in the Ravenna neighborhood in Seattle, WA, writing the week’s blog in a hard wooden chair, enjoying some great pub food and great beer, as I hear friends doing the same all around me. They are here, too, enjoying each others’ company over pints of great beer. Some are planning bike trips to France and Belgium; others are loudly teasing each other and heartily laughing at each others’ faults; while others quietly play cards or bury their noses in their laptops; all members of the local community, family and friends, coming together with one common purpose – to share good food and drink and their lives together in a public place … the neighborhood pub.
And that’s how it should be. I just wish I didn’t have to drive here.