Home > Advice, Colorado, Journalism, Personal, Quotes > The Tender Bar: Proof you can be a functioning alcoholic

The Tender Bar: Proof you can be a functioning alcoholic

A dear friend of mine recently passed along, J.R. Moehringer’s recent memoir The Tender Bar, and since all three of her children work in bars, and usually are pretty good at getting into trouble without going too far, reading it was a no-brainer.

Last weekend after a perfect bluebird day here in Colorado, six inches of snow kept me indoors and restless. Wrapped up, sitting on the floor, I opened The Tender Bar and started to read. Four hours later I set the book down, went out and bought a 12 pack of beer, then promptly preceded reading. Ten beers later, I was done.

The following are two passages that stuck out:

J.R. talking about his cousin’s baseball career

I understood that my cousin was a budding major leaguer. He was a dedicated craftsman, and the rewards he’d gained from hard work went far beyond mastering a slider and a change. He’d mastered himself. He knew that hard work was the right path for a man, the only path. He wasn’t paralyzed, as I was, by the fear of making a mistake. When he bounced a pitch in front of me, or threw it over the head, he didn’t care. He was experimenting, exploring, finding himself, and finding his way by trial and error to a kind of truth. No matter how foolish he looked on a pitch, no matter how badly he missed the target, with the next pitch he was focused, confident, relaxed. He never once that afternoon lost the look on his face that he’d worn when we were boys. He was working hard, but he’d never stopped playing.

J.R. remembering a conversation he had over scotch with a priest on his way home from Yale

“Can I tell you something?” the priest asked. “Do you know why God invented writers? Because He loves a good story. And He doesn’t give a damn about words. Words are the curtain we’ve hung between Him and our true selves. Try not to think about the words. Don’t strain for the perfect sentence. There’s no such thing. Writing is guesswork. Every sentence is an educated guess, the reader’s as much as yours. Think about that the next time you curl a piece of paper into your typewriter.”

  1. March 11, 2008 at 6:21 am

    I was once told that a story is there whether it ever gets written or not. A writer can strive to show how the story goes, but it’s not just the writer. Both the writer and reader have to create the story between themselves, the words are only a veil between you and the story. Even a good story can be written poorly and still shine through. A well-written story is like a well-chosen frame to a beautiful picture: it encompasses and complements the whole, but obscures nothing.

  2. Wendy
    March 11, 2008 at 2:15 pm

    TEN beers later and you were done?!? Surprised you remember finishing, but hey, I am old. I liked the book, in part, for the way the guy embraced his upbringing and also managed to grow beyond it. That is the challenge, don’t you think? To embrace–and move forward. You seem to be putting your shoulder to that task, Tim.

  3. Justin
    March 11, 2008 at 11:42 pm

    I actually told my mom to read that one, and she resisted for over a year before finally sitting down to the task. I too found it to be a good one, JR tells a great story and encapsulates a lot of truth in it. The fact that he was so scared but endured was inspiring; it gave me some perspective on some of my own struggles.

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