Did You Get Your Jolly’s Tonight?

This is going to be a stretch for the brain, I think. The year would have been, let’s see…I still weighed a great deal more than I do now. I had graduated, though. I was working in Albany. Okay–so it was right about Thanksgiving of 2009.

Also, I think I owe you this bit of Mark Twain-esque disclaimer action: This is just what I remember from this one night. There will be very little wisdom or philosophy, but if you stick around until the end, you might just be surprised by the takeaway.

For a while, I was a part of this thing called the Blackwater Writing Project (no relation to the scary mercenaries). The writing project does really great teacher training (shout-out to teacher training). So, the National Writing Project was holding its annual meeting in Philadelphia. I had never been to Philly, and I was pumped about the Rocky stairs (walking them), Philly cheesesteaks (eating them), and just soaking in the city.

My tradition on this type of trip is to find a dueling piano bar in each new city I visit. Philly’s contribution is called Jolly’s.  I went to Jolly’s on a Thursday night. The Dolphins were playing the Panthers; I remember this because my office mate back home was a Panthers fan, and the Dolphins (somehow) won that night. 2009 was a bad year for the Dolphins.

The bar wasn’t particularly slammed that night, but most of the tables were taken. I sat at the only open table, if I remember correctly: a small, four-seater just in front of the stage with a woman from the college. She was older, but really ready to be at the bar. She was this totally dirty lady, too, and British (maybe).

The napkin from that night has a series of non-sequiturs scribbled on it. We did a lot of people watching that night, and the two major takeaways are here:

  1. Wet pavement will likely bring down the sturdiest of men.
  2. Only a real man with a dirty shadow beard can wear a sparkly shirt.

I suppose at this point in my life I take both of these things for granted. And watching our male high school drum major wear way too many sparkles on his uniform should have taught me the lessons of that night many years earlier. He in no way had a shadow beard or the biological capacity to grow one.

A few nights later I would revisit Jolly’s with a couple of other people. It really was a great place. At that point it was a little spot in the wall, tucked away on a street that was quiet at that time of night. There was plenty of wet pavement on that first night, and many drunk people were tripped up by it.

We all have weaknesses, I suppose.

I would learn more about one of my weaknesses on the second visit to Jolly’s. It wasn’t necessarily physical, either. But that’s all on another napkin.

Cheers!

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