Tuesday, March 29, 2016

The other half of Thursdays

Another thing that happened last Thursday was that I went to the Slider Inn after the run. The weekly tradition of going there is all but gone at this point. Even when we do make it, much like the run itself, it's an experience that has changed quite a bit over time. (As have my drinking habits.)

As we sat there on Thursday, we reminisced about "what it used to be like" and talked about the people who used to work there and the regulars who probably still show up but we aren't there often enough anymore to run into them (maybe a good thing on that last point). The height of the Breakaway/Slider alliance was such a fun time to be part of the group...

That era started almost exactly a year after the events I wrote about in the previous entry:

I used to say there was nothing special about the Slider Inn except it was the place all of us wound up hanging out after the run on Thursday nights, but that wasn’t quite right. There was something special about the Slider Inn. Things happened there that didn’t happen – couldn’t have happened – outside of it. It had a mystical hold on us. I heard people say, with my own ears (sometimes coming from my own mouth), “I can’t go back to the Slider Inn for a while,” in the same shuddering tone that someone might say, “I’m not walking by any cemeteries at night for a while.”

Watching the Olympic trials at Slider, 2012
But oh, what magical possibility lay in front of the person who said the opposite. Who said, with enthusiasm, “I’m going to the Slider Inn!” (also words known to leave my mouth). It wasn’t every night there that the floodgates opened, but it happened often enough. You could walk in the door having no idea who would be there or what to expect, and walk away hours later having experienced things that put episodes of The Twilight Zone to shame. It was a bar…but a bar with the power to make those who stepped inside of it come away as different people. One block south and one block east of the Breakaway on Union. Cozy. New. Still working on building up that patina of character that older bars inevitably acquire. Sometimes it was just a handful of us on a Thursday. Sometimes we would bring in our own band and have parties big enough that the parking lot would be roped off and tables set up for us.

The manager used to joke they expanded the deck for Breakaway, and it’s possible there was some truth in that; we certainly made use of it. Some of my favorite memories from those years come from long summer nights on the patio, sipping PBRs for hours while still in my running clothes.

It opened in the summer of 2011, and I was there for the first time six weeks after. With the owner of Breakaway, of course. He was our ringleader on Slider nights. I remember thinking that for all his hype, though, I didn’t see much that was special about the place. And I remember realizing later that I was wrong.

The Slider Inn was where we drank, and it always seemed odd to me that the people I knew who weren’t athletic thought that that, in turn, seemed odd. Like there was some kind of disconnect between running a lot and drinking a lot.

But no, the two went hand in hand, and that was obvious, because you get a bunch of high-intensity people together and no matter what it is that they happen to be doing, they’re going to be doing a hell of a lot of it.


  1. If you know the manager and/or the owner of Breakaway, I hope you read this with their names intact, because that’s the way it is in the original (not sure either would appreciate me writing about them publicly). Slider will not and cannot be what it was simply because the relationship of those two men to that place has changed. And you know, for a lot of reasons I’m extremely glad…but damn, it was interesting there for a while…

  2. “I can’t go back to the Slider Inn for a while,” - said me, one too many occasions.

    1. You would have enjoyed our parties during this era. :)