About halfway through football season, when I caught on that the 49ers were moving out of a decade of bad coaching and worse ownership to become a possible post-season contender, I happily climbed on the bandwagon, one from which I’d jumped in 1994 because I couldn’t stand Deion Sanders. If you watched the NFC conference championship game on Sunday, you know that said wagon’s wheels fell off on wide receiver Kyle Williams’ knee. I was disappointed that my team lost, but I had a blast watching the game.

For the most part.

SadSee, my little brother Andy was in town, and given that we hoped to heavily toast a Niners victory, we walked to the friendly Near Southside haunt The Chat Room. The place was packed by the end of the first half, and as near as I could tell, nobody seemed to be rooting for the Giants –– with the possible exception of this dude in a white, billowy button-up shirt. He’d come in the back door and crossed the room to the bar, and that was the last I thought of him until my brother came back from getting a round of beers. Andy was really steamed because the guy had been up at the bar bitching about, among other things, a faulty lock on the men’s bathroom stall and a dog in the bar.


If I had to guess, this dude was the kind of whiner who complains that a bar’s music’s too loud, its barstools too rickety, and its chardonnay too nonexistent — just the kind of gap-toothed charm that makes neighbors frequent neighborhood bars in the first place. I’m not hating on him because he looked like he was on his way to his own baptism, but honestly, guy, who do you think you are? I’ve never seen a person turned away from the Chat for anything other than the usual TABC-motivated reasons, and I’d never suggest that the Chat Room attracts only one sort of customer –– all types of regulars fill the joint’s sometimes wobbly seating from happy hour ’til last call.

One type of regular at the Chat (and at Lola’s and The Aardvark and Chadra Mezza and Tumbleweeds and so on) is the kind that has four legs and licks his own furry butt — the occasional canine is one of myriad reasons why people keep coming back. But when you’re figuratively new in town (and I maintain that every bar is sort of its own little village), don’t go around insulting the mainstays with sanctimonious bellowing about bathroom locks and unsanitary pets. I’m not a veterinarian, but I’m pretty sure that no dog on Earth is capable of projectile shedding and certainly not with the accuracy required to land hairs in somebody’s beverage. When in Rome, do as the Romans, and if you can’t go with the flow, go somewhere else. Preferably where Giants fans are hanging out. –– Steve Steward


Drinking on 11

While browsing the interwebs the other day, I happened upon a link to a Men’s Health list entitled “Four Strange Reasons You Drink Too Much.” Amusingly, the first item blames your binging on the media, which at first might not seem like a legitimate motivator but actually is. Apparently, if you’re looking at pictures of alcohol, you get a greater urge to drink some. Last I heard, that’s called advertising, and it works very well. (Why else would anyone drink Corona?) Reason No. 2 is economic malaise, assuming that getting blotto is one way to alleviate sadness over poverty. (Sarcasm alert!) No one drinks to celebrate, after all. (However, believing that someone or some people actually got paid to come up with this list is pretty damn depressing.) Simple biochemistry comes next. Booze makes your brain feel niiiiice, and more of it makes it feel nicer, except for later, when your liver is threatening to quit because of unsafe working conditions. While none of these reasons is really shocking, the fourth explanation is out of left field and actually had me laughing: loud music. According to some study (performed in France, of all places), 40 men tracked over the course of three Saturday nights finished their drinks in 12 minutes when the bar’s music was cranked up, while taking 15 minutes when the volume was comparatively lower. You might think club owners should therefore book bands that come with Marshall stacks instead of acoustic guitars, but positive correlations don’t tell the whole story; maybe Jean, Jean-Luc, and Jean Reno drank faster because they didn’t like the blaring music and wanted to leave. Maybe the researches should see what happens when a dog wanders in. –– S.S.


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