We will start with a video today. You may or may not have seen it already, but it is worth a minute of your time:
Now, the cynic in me realizes that this is a commercial. Whether the couples were being set up Candid Camera-style or whether they were part of a script does not really matter to me (although that cynical part of me says that it was all scripted). The bottom line is that this video was produced to sell beer. At the same time, however, there is another message that is conveyed here regarding attitudes…and I love it.
In fact, not only do I love this commercial…I lived it. Not in the literal sense of being there when it was produced, of course…but my experience followed this script, and pretty damn closely.
Let us now fire up the Way-Back machine. First stop: My young adulthood. Once upon a time, Grand Avenue in Schofield was very much a part of my life. Not only did I work at a restaurant located on the thoroughfare; I had varying degrees of familiarity with several of the waterholes along that stretch. One of the bars frequented by my friends and me back then was known as Al’s Pour House.
Next stop for the Way-Back: Same stretch of road, a quarter of a century later. By this time, I very rarely ever drove Grand Avenue anymore. Between where I now lived and where I drove for work, there was rarely any reason for me to take that route; it was simply a matter of getting to where I was going at any given moment. But then, one morning…there I was, driving that old familiar stretch once again. Things had changed over the years; there were some stretches that were barely recognizable. “Al’s Pour House” was long gone; the bar was now known as The Office. As I drove past, I cast a nostalgic glance at the place. And something on the marquee sign immediately caught my attention:
(Great…another drawn-out trivia story, you are saying. Stick with me on this one, though.)
For those unfamiliar, NTN – now known as Buzztime – is an interactive trivia game where you are able to compete against others at your location and, simultaneously, against players across the United States and Canada. If you have ever gone to a Buffalo Wild Wings, you have undoubtedly seen the game being played. It is not limited to BWW’s, however; there are venues large and small across the land that carry the game. Anyhow…I saw the sign, and made a mental note to check the place out at the first opportunity.
Not long after, I was free for the night, and decided to take a run up to Schofield. As I walked in to my old stomping grounds, I noticed that the interior was decorated in Early Harley…as were most of the patrons. Of course, I had no clue up to that point that The Office was now a biker bar. Something of a shock to me, I suppose…but, by God, I was there to play trivia.
I ordered a beer and a game box, and immediately noticed that nobody else was playing. No biggie; I will just play a couple of games and see how I stack up against the network. I log in just in time for a Countdown game at the top of the hour, and set out to play. The first five questions went well (Countdown consists of three rounds of five questions, with a brief break between rounds); if I was not at a perfect 5000 at that first break, I was pretty darn close.
Now…have you ever had the unmistakable feeling that you are being watched? I am not talking about eye contact here, but rather a vibe…a sense that somebody is paying very close attention to you. And yes, I was very much getting that vibe. As the first break came up, I shifted my focus from the board and screen to the clientele. And down at the far end of the bar, sure enough, somebody was looking at me…and the first word to cross my mind was “badass”. The guy was about the size of Montana, with biceps the size of my thighs and more ink than the Encyclopedia Brittanica. He was watching, and he was not smiling. My first instinct was that it might have been my attire; I was probably the only person in the bar without a trace of biker gear. Or maybe the guy was not used to seeing anybody playing the board? Whatever. The break was over…back to the game. Five more questions, and still doing very well. And, as the second break came up…he was still very clearly watching me, even more obviously than before. And then, back to the last five questions. Once again, I scored pretty well; when the final scores were flashed, I found my score on the national leaderboard – one of the top 20 in the land.
As I turned back, the same guy was now up and walking straight toward me…still not a trace of a smile, looking as badass as ever. My mind had already formed the one-sided conversation: “Okay, Trivia Boy…we need to talk.” No, this was not going to end well.
And, as he got to my stool, the first words out of his mouth were: “You know…”
(Oh, shit, here we go!)
“…nobody has ever put our house up on that (national) board. Ever. Bring your board down by us. And put your wallet away.” Yeah…by now he was smiling.
So, of course, the next two hours were spent talking with a couple of new-found friends between trivia questions. That, and knocking down some free beers. I offered to buy a round just to show I was not a deadbeat; the guy kindly reminded me about what he told me at first. Yeah, a good time was had by all.
Caution, of course, is not a bad thing. But, at the same time, an open mind is not a bad thing, either. Whether in a theater, in a bar, or anywhere else…remember that “different” does not, in and of itself, necessarily equal “bad”. Because, you see…sometimes it is you who are the one who is different. And a little bit of respect can go a long, long way.