I wanted to see what this Lancaster custom of First Friday was like but I didn’t have a bed in my apartment yet. I mentioned this to Herb, one of my friends back at the motel, and he loaned me an air bed. Good thing he also loaned me the electric air pump or I would still be trying to fill it up with air. It was huge. So, now that I had a place in my apartment to sleep it off, it was time to get it on.
It’s always a good idea to eat before a Pub Crawl, and when I told my local barmaids and waitresses that I was moving to the same block as the Belvedere Inn, they all recommended that I eat there. They suggested I start with the Grilled Chicken Caesar Salad. So, I made that my first stop. I told Alicia the waitress that “my friends all recommended that I try the…”
“Grilled Chicken Caesar Salad,” she said completing my sentence. I guess a lot of people recommend that, and afterwards I knew why. It was scrumptious. I also had a couple beers there, but I decided to begin my serious pub crawling further away and work my way back. So, I headed south and went to Annie Bailey’s on King St, about 5 blocks away.
It was packed, but of course I didn’t know anyone, except the bartender who I recognized from one other time when I was there. I had two beers while I watched a baseball playoff game. Then I headed for the next pub and had two more beers while I watched a little more of the playoff game. I forget who was playing. I wasn’t watching it that intently. I was doing more people watching. What a difference from the bar out by the motel. On Route 30 many of the bar patrons looked like they were in the cast of Duck Dynasty. Here, in town, the bar patrons looked more like city folk, and there were a lot more women.
One thing about this town is that it is very integrated and friendly. There are white people, black people, brown people, blue, red, and green people spread all over town, not just concentrated into “their neighborhoods.” There are a lot of blue, red, and green people in the area, and the numerous tattoo parlors in town keep producing more and more of them.
Back to my pub crawl. I looked for another bar to visit, and I saw this place where smoking was permitted. It wasn’t crowded, like the other bars, so I was able to get a seat at the bar. Most of the patrons, of course, were chain smokers, who were probably not allowed in any other bar in town. The air was surprisingly clean though. They had giant smoke-eater systems that were sucking up the smoke as fast as the smokers could blow it out. Naturally, I didn’t know anybody in this bar either, but earlier I got a message on my cell phone that the memory was full. So I drank a few beers and deleted hundreds of messages. I caught the barmaid glancing over at me a few times wondering what I was doing. I was already a suspicious character because I was probably the only non-smoker who ever walked in there. When she saw me incessantly tapping away on my cell phone, she really started to wonder.
Before she got too paranoid, I finished my second beer and headed for the next place, the Federal Taproom, a huge place that just opened. They were not as prepared for their first First Friday as I was for mine. They had 50 different craft beers on tap and three slow bartenders. So, with all those choices for people to make, service was slow, extremely slow, agonizingly slow, especially every time somebody asked what they had on tap. The place was packed, though, so they were making a ton of money, but they should have been making way way more. They just couldn’t handle the crowd.
It took me 10 minutes to get my first beer there. I never did get my second beer there that night. I even got some ladies at the bar to wave money in an attempt to attract a bartender, but nothing worked. I finally gave up and left to enjoy some of the street fair that was going on. There were street musicians, street magicians, and street performers of all kinds. Many people were gathered near the public pianos scattered round the town, where bands were playing.
Everyone in the street was partying. It reminded me a little of New Orleans, just fewer people, and nobody wearing any beads or flashing anything. It was all good clean fun. It was like the kind of street party this town might have if the local Lancaster Barnstormers won the Minor League World Series, which they didn’t. At least, I don’t think they did.
But I digress, and while I’m digressing, I might as well get back to the Federal Taproom, which I did the following day. They were still agonizingly slow, but there were far fewer customers this day. So I was able to get 2 Shoo-Fly Pints crafted at a local brewery and an awesome Kielbasa sandwich that was even better than the Kielbasa sandwiches they used to sell at the Polish Hall in Port Washington. Then I had to leave to catch my bus, or I may have gone deeper into their selection of 50 beers on tap. So, I think the Federal Taproom will be a great place to go as soon as the staff gets a little more experience. Since it’s on the same block as the bus station, I’ll be going there a lot whenever I have to wait for a bus. I wonder how long it will take me to sample all the beers.
Now back to our story, already in progress. I decided to head to the Belvedere Inn and make the bar nearest my apartment the last stop of the evening. I soon realized that the County-famous restaurant where senior citizens ate by day was a gay bar by night. Also, I was about 40 years older than the second oldest one at the bar. So, I finished my drink there and decided to have my last drink of my first First Friday in my own backyard.
While sitting in my backyard with a glass of whatever was in my refrigerator, I noticed that there are rose bushes growing in my yard. I never promised myself a rose garden, but like Mike Douglas in The American President, it turns out I’ve got one. The symbol for the City of Lancaster is a Red Rose. So, I thought that was a mighty good omen. So, everything is coming up roses, and I’m looking forward to the next First Friday. Hope to see you there.
Peace & Love, and all of the above,