Seeking Chicago in New York City: My Opening Day Experience

| September 12th, 2011

The satellites didn’t work. After sitting at Josie Woods for the better part of three hours, drinking bar coffee and eating bagels from a large plastic bag, the big TV in the corner was now frozen on a blindingly yellow image of bald Terry Bradshaw in a bad suit.  And no matter how many times we tried to reboot the system, nothing could be done.

12:00.  12:02.  Slammed a Bud Light draft.  12:15.  12:35.  Slammed another.

As the Bears regulars began to file into our underground club house, I warned them not to take their seats as we may need to move on down the road.  I turned to my buddy Josh, a Bills fan, and a co-executive decision was made.  We left.

On the walk up Waverly to Broadway I was mumbling angrily to myself like a hobo in need of a fix.  I kicked a mailbox for no other reason than it was there.  We had to leave the place I’ve watched football for eleven years and go to St. Mark’s Ale House.

St. Mark’s Ale House sucks.  I can’t state that clearly enough.  My friends will tell you that one of my phobias is sitting at tables in bars.  I don’t like sitting at tables in bars.  It makes me feel suburbanized, like I’m one step away from having a crying baby-filled stroller being rocked beside me.  At St. Mark’s Ale House, everybody sits at tables.  I don’t get it.  How can you cheer from your seat?  How can you watch your favorite club without nervously pacing the length of a room?

But St. Mark’s Ale House is a Bears bar in the sense that multiple Bears fans go there.  So we went there.  And the fella who owns that joint, even at 12:50, was oblivious to fact that his satellites were down.  (He had most of the TVs on the 9/11 ceremony.  Yay!  Poor me, another pint! )  As the kickoff time was rapidly approaching, my buddy Brian began calling every bar with a television set in the neighborhood.

“Do you have the Bears game working?  Can you check?  You have to check!  Check!”

No one did.  Then he called Kelly’s on Avenue A.  Bills bar.  (Josh had found Valhalla.)  Also a Cubs bar.  Hope.

They had it.  (They checked it per Brian’s request.)  They really had it.  We didn’t believe them but off we were, snagging a cab at the corner of St. Mark’s and 2nd Avenue like a cavalry on the march to the battle field.  I fulfilled a lifetime dream by telling the cab driver to “step on it”.  He stepped on it.  We arrived.

Kelly’s does not suck.  It’s a cool little joint in a now-trendy neighborhood that managed to put 100+ Bills fans into a space that couldn’t have a legal capacity of more than 25.  The Bears game was on a television in the far corner, above the doorway leading to the staircase leading to the toilets.  (Side note: Periodically through the game, the lights did not work in the men’s room.  I had to use my cell phone to direct my piss.)  In our thin lane to the television, we squeezed 13 people.  At the rear of our lane was a bed.  Not a padded seat.  A bed.

It was also a thousand degrees.  We didn’t drink out buckets of Labatt tallboys because we loved beer.  We drank our buckets to cool off.  I drank too many of them.  And when the adrenaline of the ballgame wore off, I felt it.  (My pre-6:00 pm bedtime can attest.)

All for football.  All for the Chicago Bears.  An annoyance that plagued DirecTV bars around the country turned into a classic New York afternoon and created a memory sure to last.  It could have been the worst opening day of my life.  It became the best.

30-12 helped.  Thank you, Brian.  Thank you, Kelly’s.  Thank you New York City.  Thank you, Chicago Bears.


Picks Contest update!  BidDaddy, DYLbear23, FQD1911 & NewBearinTown went perfect on Sunday.  Shady & SC Dave need a Denver cover tonight.  BossBear90 needs an Oakland cover.