Drinking with Men: A Memoir
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A vivid, funny, and poignant memoir that celebrates the distinct lure of the camaraderie and community one finds drinking in bars.
Rosie Schaap has always loved bars: the wood and brass and jukeboxes, the knowing bartenders, and especially the sometimes surprising but always comforting company of regulars. Starting with her misspent youth in the bar car of a regional railroad, where at fifteen she told commuters’ fortunes in exchange for beer, and continuing today as she slings cocktails at a neighborhood joint in Brooklyn, Schaap has learned her way around both sides of a bar and come to realize how powerful the fellowship among regular patrons can be.
In Drinking with Men, Schaap shares her unending quest for the perfect local haunt, which takes her from a dive outside Los Angeles to a Dublin pub full of poets, and from small-town New England taverns to a character-filled bar in Manhattan’s TriBeCa. Drinking alongside artists and expats, ironworkers and soccer fanatics, she finds these places offer a safe haven, a respite, and a place to feel most like herself. In rich, colorful prose, Schaap brings to life these seedy, warm, and wonderful rooms. Drinking with Men is a love letter to the bars, pubs, and taverns that have been Schaap’s refuge, and a celebration of the uniquely civilizing source of community that is bar culture at its best.
simpatico. On the boy front, however, Rachel was doing a lot better—or worse, depending on how you looked at it—than I was. They were, at least, a serious part of her life—even if they added up to a whole lot of heartache. I had little going on to speak of in that department, and even if I sometimes fretted about that, my hybrid student-townie life mostly felt full and satisfying and provided enough distractions. The men whose company I kept were a few close friends, gay and straight, a few
boyfriend and my brother cleared out after brunch the morning after graduation. I went back to my apartment, where I’d let a bunch of students crash who’d been kicked out of their dorms now that the semester had ended. Their stuff was everywhere: suitcases and backpacks and duffel bags in my living room, contact lens solution next to my bathroom sink. But they were all out doing something. I sat alone all afternoon in my cluttered living room, flipped through my senior thesis, a project I’d spent
my closest friends. But it was time to move on. New York is a big city, after all. There were other bars. There were other people. Besides, even among my fellow regulars, a general weariness had set in, and everybody seemed to sense that this party—to which I’d arrived so late—was now officially over. There was talk of people moving out west. Of people taking full-time jobs with benefits. Of giving up cigarettes. Of drinking less. And among those who still wanted to drink, who still needed
I thought back to that summer when I first got to know Ed, when I first noticed that here was someone rare, someone I could rely on, someone who was more to me than just a drinking companion. I thought of the widow at the paranormal library, how I’d been moved by, but also dismissive of, her hopeless yearning to make contact with her dead husband. Now that I had lost someone I loved—someone who was not a relative, someone I’d chosen to be part of my life—I understood her better, and felt
parking lot like I’d counted on. My new family—a family composed, effectively, of children intent on being something other than children, if not quite adults. A family who, to my mother, when she ultimately met some of its members and saw pictures of others, looked like nothing so much as the Manson family. But they—we—were not that, nothing like that, not even close. We were not in the business of killing movie stars. We didn’t want to hurt anyone—except, in a distant and abstract kind of way,