Published March 2014.

March 2014: Cartoons and Bourbon

The boy who grew up in a bar returns to find his dad

My dad brought me home from the hospital on Sept. 19, 1960. I was five days old. On the way, he had to stop at an old hotel bar. If you were from “The Bottoms,” outside of Pittsburgh, you knew of this place. It was an old saloon, now long torn down. I remember Dad telling me that he facetiously baptized me by dabbing his thumb into a shot glass of bourbon. He made the sign of the cross as I whined, then stuck that thumb in my mouth.

As I got older, I would go with my dad whenever he went to that old hotel. He’d drink double shots of bourbon, and I would sit and watch the cartoons. Often he would leave a little bit in the shot glass for me. They would play that Stealers Wheel song “Stuck in the Middle with You.” I remember it because the guy was singing about being scared of falling off his chair and wondering how he’ll get down the stairs …“clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right.” Drunk on bourbon, I’d stagger back to my little table to watch more cartoons.

-- Anonymous

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