Thirty-one years is a long time between visits to a bar, but it sure has a nice ring to it.
About a month ago, I walked into the Bridge Tender in Seaside, ordered a beer, watched a slack Necanicum River from the corner window, and dived back into my personal history.
It was noon on a weekday. I had nothing to do. Seaside felt listless under overcast skies.
The last time I patronized the Bridge Tender was the summer of 1985 when I was 21 years old. My buddies and I were rampaging through town, acting dumb, living the loose life that characterized that era.
Let me admit something: I miss the loose American life. I want to write a book about the important lack of looseness in our culture without sounding nostalgic. Is that possible? Is it possible to make the case for loose again and commit to a Giant National Untethering? Let’s get it loose. Let it loose.
I surveyed the Bridge Tender. It seemed pretty much the same as I remembered it from my youth. The gritty wood interior was still intact! Thank the gods of Oregon tavern life.
Yes, there was liquor and micro beers now, video slots, a flatscreen TV and clear air. But there were also plenty of cultural items from the loose past: a cigarette machine, a (non-internet) jukebox, pool tables, and locals talking gossip about other locals who didn’t measure up in multiple categories of human measuring. I could listen to these men for hours spin their yarns of eternal looseness.
I might also add that not a single Bridge Tender customer was fiddling on a smartphone, dinking on a tablet or seemingly concerned that work needed doing somewhere else. They were fall feeling, unhurried, talking good profane talk and extolling the virtues of naps. It’s called loose.
Matt Love is the author/editor of 14 books, including “A Nice Piece of Astoria” and “Of Walking in Rain.” His books are available at coastal bookstores or his website, nestuccaspitpress.com