Bar Beat

Montrose Classic: Monday Night at Cecil's

It was a Monday night, and I was on the patio of Cecil's with a couple of friends. I looked toward the open part of the porch and saw two young men embrace. At first I thought the white guy with the shaved head was trying to express his affection for his skinny black friend by lifting him off the ground. But he didn't put him down until he'd walked over to a trash bin, tipped the guy's feet in the air and dropped him in, head-first. I bet it was dark in there, and lonely.

After the skinny guy crawled out - the couple dozen people on the patio were all watching by this point - the two bowed up in the oh-shit-not-sure-if-we're-actually-going-to-fight-but-want-to-try-to-look-tough-either-way pose. Someone bigger and less spastic than both of them broke it up, and a bar employee instructed the white guy to leave.

As he was walking down the handicap ramp, the two had an exchange worthy of the Algonquin Round Table.

Black kid: "I told you, man, it wasn't me!"

White kid: "Yeah, but it was you in that fucking trash can!"

Good point.

I don't make it to Cecil's on Mondays much anymore. The long-running special - used to be dollar wells, Shiner and Lone Star; now it's $1.50 wells and $2 Lone Star - drew me out when I was in college. It also drew several dozen other folks each week, mostly in their early twenties. Of course, it was crowded and friends of mine seemed to have a talent for earning lifetime bans for fairly middling offenses. But it was cheap, and the patio was nice in the right weather, and the old-school juke box was decent when you could actually hear it. Plus, Bill Hicks used to drink there, at some point between when the place opened in 1990 and when he died in '94. The bar may have burned down and been rebuilt between then and now, but who's counting?

Now, it's still crowded on Mondays, which is the chief thing that keeps me away. There's a nervous energy to the whole scene - the trash-can incident isn't the first fight I've seen on that patio. And yeah, it's full of young hipsters. I think the popular hatred of hipsters is nearly as contrived as the style that defines that culture. So I'm not hating. But that scene does dominate Monday nights at Cecil's. (Other nights of the week it's more relaxed, almost like being at a different bar.)

Dense groups form on the side patio, which the bar built a couple years ago, and near the front door. You can barely hear yourself get drunk sometimes, let alone whatever your friends are saying. The worst was a few months ago when a guy brought an acoustic guitar outside and lead a cowboy-chord Weezer sing-a-long. Can't you do something that's actually entertaining, like get in a fight? Jesus.

This starts happening around 9 p.m. But showing up earlier than that and ordering a cheap, strong drink at the nearly empty bar is like the reverse of a car crash - eerily quiet before all the nasty explosive stuff goes down. Cecil's is even an all right place to watch a Monday Night Football game, if you can grab a seat in the corner near the TV. (Respect to the ownership for not feeling the need to have televisions set up to accommodate every potential line of sight.)

If you enjoy the serenity long enough, you'll be prepared to deal with the crowd when it rolls in. And it will.

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Glenn Livet