Over the Hills and Far Away / by Deborah Clague

The last time I visited a bar, I was 23. I remember the evening vividly. It wasn't my regular haunt; instead, my friends and I found ourselves at a cheesy club in a cheesy hotel near the edge of Winnipeg's cheesy suburbia. That's a lot of fromage.

We hadn't gone drinking and dancing in ages and it seemed like the default thing to do to temporarily eradicate our adult onset ennui. After paying the cover charge and entering the palm tree laden, faux tropical environment, I was quick to note that we didn't fit in. It wasn't even subtle; the fine line between generation next and whatever marketing catchphrase we were defined by was boldly highlighted through fashion, level of enthusiasm and acceptance of irony. I was one of the oldest individuals there. A remnant of history to these "kids". I imagined the girls were all named Britney and the boys were all named Justin (and I probably wasn't far off). We left after 30 minutes.

I'm sure there were bars where everybody would know my name, but I never bothered to seek them out. At 23, I retired from the scene to become a spinster. 

I was too old for this shit. 


On Saturday evening, I emerged from retirement and agreed to hit up a local bar. My decision based on the notice that a Led Zeppelin cover band would be playing. I wasn't particularly enamoured of spending my evening in a confined space surrounded by drunk riff-raff, but I could at least appreciate a good 70s Gibson riff.

The joint – a total dive in an otherwise trendy, gentrified neighbourhood – held a diverse crowd ranging from those who were around to purchase Led Zeppelin IV on eight-track to millennials who may have never even heard of that recording method. I surveyed the landscape feeling like a wallflower narrator in a National Geographic special: observe as the inebriated cougars perform a mating dance, bosom and buttocks on prominent display in the hopes of securing a mate; cautiously heed the cries of the dudes in full biker regalia as they mark their territory with spilt lager. I was the only one there without a visible tattoo.

This place is beer.

I am wine.

And I have aged. 

I can't help feel that no matter where I am, I'd rather be somewhere else. At 23, and now a decade later.

We departed after the second set, partially deaf and craving midnight McDonalds. Upon exiting, I stepped over a puddle of vomit and thought to myself "I am too fuckin' old for this shit."