The Third Pillar


If you grew up in a small town in 1980’s, you will most likely be all too familiar with the two pillars that underpin these tiny communities. These pillars are the local school and church. They serve as a common meeting ground for folks to escape the isolation and loneliness that is part of the fabric of rural life. This story revolves around the invisible Third Pillar. Some argue that this pillar serves a higher purpose than the first two, and although most would silently agree, very few would acknowledge this is public. It is a place that asks little of its loyal congregants, but takes more than they would ever know. It has many names, but in my home town, the third pillar was known as The Tiger. It is here, on a winter evening in 1986, that our story unfolds.

 

The noise inside The Tiger had been increasing steadily as the evening turned from dusk to full dark. The winter had been the coldest on record and even a some farmers had braved the slippery dirt roads to be there that night. Frozen crops and a throttling drought sits easier if you lubricate reality a bit. In solidarity, or perhaps fear of missing out, the townies stood shoulder to shoulder, toe to counter, with these brave dirt-smiths. The first shots in the battle against sobriety had been fired hours before and now the war was in full swing.

Not to be outdone by the men, several of the ladies were known to be as fierce as the men when it came to this type of warfare. Some woman, unshackled of the burden of being mother or wife for a few hours, were laying down Chardonnay-fuelled cover fire with a terrifying intensity, hitting both enemy and friendlies alike. Chardonnay was very popular among the town’s woman that year, particularly among the single ladies. Dressed as provocatively as allowed in 1986, they were seated towards the back of the L-shaped room, quietly discussing the few single men who prowled around the bar. Desperate to escape the over twenty-one and single group, these women would go to great lengths to make their appearance as welcoming as possible to any possible suiters. Chardonnay lends an air of sophistication to the drinker. You even look cultured when you hold a wine glass by the stem. Soon it would become obvious that there were no potential husbands amongst the boisterous drunkards milling around the room and the ladies will dispense with their act for the night and order double Richelieu and coke. With their masks finally discarded, and their guns loaded with bitterness and brandy, they would enter the fray. The lucky ones might end up having a drunk farmer grope them in the parking lot a bit later, but for now it was every man and woman for themselves as the battle to survive Friday night at The Tiger raged on.

 

At this point you may wonder where your storyteller was during all of this. I was after all only 7 years old at that time and a child had no place in war. I was in the eye of the storm, the belly of the beast, the heart of the vortex, and under a beer drenched table in the corner. It was common in those days for some of the adults to hire a baby sitter to look after the children for the evening. One by one, we would be deposited into a well-lit room at the Central Hotel, across the road from the Tiger. Here all the kids could play with a mountain of Lego, or watch Looney Tunes on the little tv set. All under the watchful eye of a somewhat responsible seventeen-year-old. Parents could easily stumble across the road to check up on their little ones before returning to the front lines. It was an unorthodox arrangement but it seemed to work. Every so often, one of us would manage to slip away and steal across the road. A place of great mystery, we were fascinated by the Tiger. On this night, I took advantage of the sitter’s desperate attempt to break up a melee over some Lego blocks, and I quietly slipped out into the cold night. My timing was perfect and as I neared the door of the Tiger it crashed open and two men came spilling onto the sidewalk. Tugging and pulling at each other’s collars, they crashed to the ground. I used the distraction to silently slip into the noisy bar. From there I followed the usual rules of combat - Stay low and move fast. Slipping on spilled beer and melting ice blocks I reached the safety of the far corner and took refuge under some tables near the far wall. From this vantage point I could take in the carnage and hopefully survive long enough to provide the other children with a detailed report on the happenings at the Tiger. This was after all deep into enemy territory and any intel I could gather would be of great value to my reputation.





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This is me: home-writer, book-reader, dog-lover and occasional poet. I make this website to share my and my friends texts with You, dear Reader. Please: read carefully, don't be scary, upgrade your mood and be king and leave your comment. :)