Still can’t touch that day. Another full weekend and I feel so lucky to have such wonderful people in my life. For so many years I kept my head in the sand and rarely had any contact with my Vallejo neighbors. Now, occasionally, I get the Norm welcome at the Town House. Funny, when I was tending bar that was actually something that management used as an example of good service.


“We want a bar like Cheers, where everybody knows your name.”


To be honest, while I always wanted a corner bar where I felt welcome the sound of my mother’s ‘judgmental’ voice would clear its throat with an “A-Hem.” Telling me that hanging out in a bar was not what a husband or father should do. Then she would share stories of a few unenlightened men in our family, long since dead at the time, who were not gentle with their wives when they drank. Of course I took these lesson to heart. But three things are true now.


  1. I am not married
  2. I am not a father
  3. I am older now then my mother was when she told me those stories.


So with some occasion I can be found having a gin, or a whisky, or a beer with a friend or friends. In Vino Veritas. In wine, truth. Look, we all know life’s stresses. Some can be relieved through yoga, some through exercising at the gym, oftentimes just taking a long walk with my dogs is key to maintaining my sanity.  But what I find enjoyable at the end, or in this case at the beginning, of the week is to relax and enjoy the company of my friends. Monday nights at the Townhouse is just such a time.


Every Monday night owner Mark Reed sponsors, what charming, talented and affable Don Bassey calls, Band Club. And it is amazing. Don often refers to it as the Don and Erin show, with Vallejo’s own Erin Bakke sitting in next to her partner, strumming her guitar and singing along. By 7 o’clock, the bar is usually full of like-minded patrons. This week some kind person, replete with holiday spirit, placed plates of cookies out on every table for us to enjoy. I find it has become a wonderful time to catch up with the busy people in my life who also slow down a bit on Mondays.


This week Don did a tribute to Townes Van Zandt, a critically acclaimed singer-songwriter, and led us all in a round of Poncho and Lefty. Don is a consummate musician who is so at one with his craft that when I see him without his guitar I hardly recognize him. His voice belies his years yet rarely have I heard such smooth gravel before. Of course we all sang along, wouldn’t you? I arrived somewhat later and had my seat at a back table. I love to sing along but know quite well that I do not have the chops to do what Don and Erin do. So I keep my voice volume and tenor very low.


The best part of sharing a drink and signing along with everyone else in the bar is the sense of comradery that develops with each verse. By the end of Poncho and Lefty’s saga we were all warmed as one. To my surprise, after the song had ended, the woman just in front on me turned and complimented me on my singing voice, saying that it blended in so well with the band. The kindness warmed me and made me smile. Who would not want to sing some Tom Waits or Townes Van Zandt on Britain’s Got Talent? I thanked her and turned smiling to my table mate.


“Sure,” she replied, “But you’re no Don Bassey.”


Maybe this Cheers thing isn’t working for me after all.


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Until next time,


Eat Well and Smile Often


Tommy Judt


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