Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Play Ball

Albert Einstein said it best. "I have no talent. I am just passionately curious"

On a recent drive to the Cultural Arts Center at Glen Allen, I'd noticed a small building with a red Coca-Cola sign that read "The Dugout Restaurant" near a softball field complex.

Like Albert, I am curious about practically everything. Why not see what it held in store? A restaurant, really? Sports types? A dive bar?

The answer was "C," one of those places where the main room is for smokers with a side room for those who value their lungs. Except that the door to that room was propped perpetually open.

A good dive bar always values its smokers over the pink-lunged crowd.

An intense-looking card game was going on back there while a pool table nearby sat empty. Out in the main room, plastic ashtrays lined the bar, paneling covered the walls and six screens ensured that something boring was on at all times. Overhead, two smoke eater machines whirred in tandem with ceiling fans.

Nice effort, but I think we all know that if you go to a dive bar, you're going to reek of cigarette smoke.

Judging by the bottles on the bar, it was a beer-drinking crowd but that didn't stop me from inquiring if they had any tequila. The bartender put down her cigarette long enough to look but had to have the Patron pointed out to her. At least they had something above rotgut.

The crowd treated each other like family with insults and offers to buy beers; a couple of guys even called goodnight to strangers when they left to go home. An old guy with a walker shuffled up and down the length of the bar, getting his butt grabbed by the woman he came with as he did so.

I'd call the menu team-friendly, testing it out with a pork barbecue sandwich (taking the big smoker out front as a good sign) with slaw and an order of wings. Requesting the hand-cut fries listed on the menu, the bartender said, "They're not hand-cut but they're good."

They don't worry much about descriptors at the Dugout.

In usual dive bar fashion, there was an abundance of screens (six to be specific), e-bowling and a jukebox. But here's the strange part: not once at any point during the night did anyone play any music. I'm sorry, but the best dive bars have a soundtrack, even if it's nothing more than the likes of Journey, country music and bad Top 40.

People kept leaving to go out to the parking lot, for what I can't imagine since you could smoke and drink in the bar. I overheard one guy saying they were going to the "trunk," which might have been code for any number of activities.

I had a guess - it was called the dugout, after all.

The absence of music meant that someone decided to turn on the volume for Monday Night Football, a regrettable choice in my opinion but I was probably in the minority. Sports lovers were overruled, however, when "The Voice" came on, a show I'd mercifully never had to sit through until tonight.

Let's see,a Justin Timberlake wannabe, an adorable nerd aping Bono note for note and a guy who looked like a Hasidic Jew (minus the curls) singing Taylor Swift. I didn't need to witness any of that.

On the other hand, it was at least music. I can only drink tequila for so long without tunage. Apparently I'd ended up in the one dive bar where music matters not.

I know there's no crying in baseball, but could it be there's no music in softball?

My curiosity carries me so many places that they can't all strike a home run. At least now I know.


  1. wake up lazy bones....the nightmare is over...you don't have to live at the Dugout!


  2. Praise be! Even in a roomful of men, a woman always loses to football on TV. Always.