The Bar

You take a sip from a small glass and look at the television set in the corner of the bar.

It is small and black, one of those models that used to be in everybody’s living room in 1994, and it shows you Eric Hosmer’s nearly flawless swing.

Across the room, past the rough wooden floor, a 20-something musician stands at a microphone and says: This is a song about “Saturn.”

You take another sip, and stretch your legs out, feeling your hamstrings extend like an according. It is just past 11 p.m., a Monday night in Kansas City, and the music is just beginning.

One year ago, you wouldn’t have been here, sitting on a high chair at the bar, thinking about baseball and music… and texting back and forth with your brother in Washington D.C.

At least… you would not have been sitting by yourself.

There’s something lonely about sitting in a bar by yourself. Something like Paul Giamatti in Sideways. Something like going to a movie and buying one ticket.

Bars are alcohol and music and sports. And these are social things, things to be enjoyed with other people; things to discuss and dissect and debate.

But… there’s something liberating, too. Something simple and reflective and relaxing about sitting in a half-empty hipster joint, darkness and music filling the room. Something about drinking whiskey and Sprite at a raised table while watching the Royals and listening to a young musician sing into microphone. Something about stepping out your front door and making the solo walk to the bar around the corner.

This is the Record Bar on a Monday night: a small little indie pop outfit called “Devil Television” goes on at 10 p.m., and a funky Lawrence-based group called “The Will Nots” will follow.

And the lead singer keeps saying one more song, one more song, one more song. “Ok, we’re only going to play a few more,” he says.

And then they play another song. And then another one. And finally the singer stops and asks the dozen or so people in the crowd: “What time did we go on?” And then they play two more songs.

This is the Record Bar on a Monday night: The bartender makes a whiskey-Sprite and then turns and complains about the drunk wanderer outside on the sidewalk.

“I think I’m gonna have to call the cops on this drunk guy,” he says. “He’s got a stick.”

This is the Record Bar on a Monday night: An old Lawrence duo, Drakkar Sauna, finishes the night — and it’s an old-timey journey to the land of folk and strings and songs that feel fresh and dusty all at the same time.

You look at your glass. Whiskey and sprite produce such an unhealthy color when they’re mixed together. Sort of like a darker shade of Mountain Dew or a glassful of radioactive waste.

Now you look up at the television. The Royals game is long over. Another loss.

You take one more sip and look around, people-watching for a few seconds. There are records on the wall, and faded band fliers in the bathroom, and the place feels old, timeless even. You grab your phone and look at the clock: 12:30 a.m.

And you walk out the front door by yourself, the music still playing on a warm and beautiful Kansas City night.

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