Reviving the Lost Art of the Bar Joke at the Page
From this week's Bouncer column:
I have spent a fair amount of time talking about bars in this town that seem to have an eerie presence, as if they were built on an Indian burial mound or something. You walk into one and immediately want to turn around and walk out, despite their friendly enough bartenders, cheap drinks, and ample seating. It stands to reason that the opposite is also true: There are bars with some magical aura and font of fealty that draw you in and make you want to stay, no matter their decor, jukebox, or patrons. The Page is one such place. It is a clean dive with great bartenders. It looks like a million other bars, but still manages to be one in a million. Depending on the day of the week and time of night, it can be populated with Phish fans, Marina plankton, Walnut Creek explorers, bearded hipsters, neighborhood alcoholics, wizards, prestidigitators, philatelists, rubes, and libertarians. Sometimes they're all there at once, pressed up against one another like a Jose Cuervo commercial directed by Hieronymous Bosch.
The Page has a bit of a hipster hunting lodge feel, with taxidermy and chandeliers; beyond that, it is the same as many other rec-room-style dives, with a long bar, billiards, and a faint smell that only decades of imbibing can infuse.
I deliberately visited at a time when it wouldn't be too crowded, partly because that was the time I always go out, and partly because I can't think of anything worse than being wedged next to a philatelist. Still, there were several people there, and all the stools were taken -- save one. Going to a bar by yourself is best; you always find a seat, and you don't have to fight with your friends over the guy in the Chrome T-shirt. Yes, ladies, this night I had my pick. Just as soon as I finished my crossword puzzle.
"So this girl is at a bar, and this guy in a big cowboy hat sits next to her," a man next to me said. He looked about 50 and had the Giants' "S.F." tattooed on his arm. From his delivery, I knew he was launching into a joke, not an anecdote. Holy shit, I didn't realize people told jokes anymore. It is a dying art. Instead, we have catchphrases, ironic asides, or deadpan sarcasm...