Each and every summer numerous college students make the pilgrimage back to their hometowns. In these hometowns are their families, their high school friends, their old flames and for those 21 and over, their hometown bars.
This is the bar where you had your 21st birthday surrounded by hometown friends. This was supposed to be a big deal like you had not spent numerous nights drinking with these same friends illegally in corn fields. On its busiest night, it is only as busy as the slowest hour at your college bar. If you want a craft beer or an IPA, they will look at you like you are crazy and you will likely end up with some domestic light beer that will leave you wanting to wave a "Saturdays Are For The Boys" flag.
The food there is mostly lackluster. There are better options in town but you just can't pass up wing night even though they are served with the same expectation as a game of Russian roulette. We all remember the friend you had a ranch lid in their quesadilla. But the beer is the coldest and cheapest in town. If you go anywhere else, you know that you will just wind up at this bar before the night ends. At your college bars, the bar serves as a pre-game or post-game option for some party down the street. But back home your local bar is the party.
There is that table where you know not to sit as that is where the regulars always sit. If they fail to show up on a weeknight after five, it is almost cause for a search and rescue mission. There are those guys who are still reliving their high school glory days, where they either peaked or they are making it sound like they did.
Anyone you ask has some story about the time that they got kicked out of this bar and it serves almost as a right of passage. If you stay until last call you will probably get in a fight with someone who feels like you think you are better than them because you are not belligerent.
This is the bar where you took a trophy out with you after winning the local baseball league and used it as a table centerpiece surrounded by beer. You have been here for birthdays, breakups, rehearsal dinners and even after more than a few weddings. There is a B-Dubs down the road but no one really cares for them except when the picky friend advocates for a change.
They took away the gigantic super pitchers of beer and you miss them more than you care to admit openly. Everyone talks about the bigger schools in your area and ask why you would want to go to a smaller school when they themselves barely passed high school. After 11 p.m., there seems to be a dress code that every woman needs to have a poorly thought-out tattoo to enter and there are more "whale tales" to be seen than at SeaWorld. Who needs Tinder when you have your hometown bar, you know that every single girl within the city limits will be there at least one night during the week.
This is the place which gets by on a heavy dose of nostalgia. You remember the times shared with friends before responsibilities when you could get silly drunk on a weeknight and wake up the next morning with your face hurting from laughing so much the night before. You remember this place as being better but then you realize that it was never better. You just remember it as being better because it represents home and your friends.
As much as you would like to think that you won't be back, you know that you will for the night before Thanksgiving or some night similar. Because well…the beer is cheap and cold.