Gulf Coast Diving at the Poop Deck

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I once overheard someone ask a Poop Deck bartender whether the Galveston dive had any happy hour specials. The bartender, like every one I've seen in person at this place or pictured on its matchbooks, was dressed in a skimpy, party-store version of a sailor's outfit. "Nah, sweetie," she said. "Every hour here is happy."

I've never had an unhappy one myself when I've been at the bar, and two of those hours included the middle part of a breakup and a beer that was served to me unopened but somehow full of saltwater. Both were hard to get past.

So there aren't any specials. But if being at this second-story nautical-themed dive right off the seawall -- sitting on a balcony where Chuck Norris once threw a guy over the railing for a movie, listening to the classic rock jukebox and watching beach-goers, getting involved in some intensely tangential conversations with some broken-in drinkers (and you will) -- is not special enough on its own, then maybe you should walk a mile or so down to Benno's and stick a finger into the deep fryer just to make sure you can still feel anything at all.

I was down on the island this weekend with a few friends celebrating a wedding. Around five we decided to finish off our Saturday hangovers and get started on Sunday's at the Poop Deck. When it's warmer out, the breeze coming off the gulf makes the patio really pleasant. (Maybe not the best place to ride out a major storm, though.)

And when it's actually sort of nice out, like on an 85-degree October day, there aren't a lot of better places in Galveston to sit and drink. Even better if you get to watch a guy on an off-road skateboard pull himself down the beach using a kite as a sail. And once the sun sets and the off-shore lights start shining, it can be downright romantic. If you take a date and they don't appreciate the Poop Deck, choose loneliness.

As four straight guys, however, we weren't feeling particularly romantic. (Maybe toward the older woman in the captain's hat who was semi-berating us for talking shit about Texas, despite the fact that we're all from here and had not said a single thing about the state, let alone anything disparaging. Though that seemed like a questionable idea.) We were finishing up a last round and I asked the out-of-towner in our group how he liked the bar.

Max is a political campaigner whose job has taken him to offices and dive bars from Fairbanks to North Dakota and, for better or worse, back to D.C. He's got a bar rating system based on absolute value - a number's distance from zero, regardless of whether it's positive or negative. The example he used was legendary shithole Dan's Cafe, in the Adams Morgan neighborhood of Washington. It's an eight; whether that means it's a great bar or so awful that it's all right is moot.

I never picked up what he said because our lady captain decided at that moment to let us know that Dallas was a part of Texas too and if we didn't appreciate that we could "get the fuck out of her state." I think that means nine.

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