Springfield on a Saturday Night

Springfield on a Saturday Night

After teaching my 4th and final lesson for the first week of my two week CELTA training, I was happy to meet up with my old NeWP friend Cathie for a local’s tour of the town and some really good barbecue.

We decided to go to Pappy’s Place, which is a tiny little bistro attached to a house somewhere on the north side of Springfield. I followed her to the destination, and got really turned around. I had to push it through a yellow light with a cop sitting right there, but I did not get pulled over.

Pappy’s is a strange place. I expected strange. It was a Saturday night, and we were the only patrons visiting the establishment. The “waitress” was an aged woman who didn’t really seemed concerned about us being there—one of those “take it or leave it” servers. We ordered a couple of beers, and I got the ribs because if you’re going to go for barbecue, you have to get ribs, right? They were out of beef and a bunch of beers. It’s one thing I’ve noticed about Springfield… a lot of places are out of things or just not open at all. It’s weird.

Linda, our waitress, brought us a second round of beers, followed by our plates of food, and it was excellent. I don’t know if I really need to describe the meal like some kind of restaurant critic, but the meat flaked off the bone, the sauce was flavorful, and the beans and fries were a nice accompaniment. I ended up taking most of the ribs home because there was way more food than I needed. That was kind of my plan.

Toward the end of our supper, an African-American woman came in, sat down at the bar and ordered a pitcher of beer. She sang to herself in a sweet voice, and then turned around and offered to share her pitcher. “I can’t drink this all by myself,” she said. But I said I was driving, and we couldn’t stay. She had ridden her bike, and I was kind of jealous of that freedom. Not bringing a bike was a big mistake.

Then Cathie and I decided to go visit the north downtown… which I didn’t know existed until she led me there. She explained that this was originally a segregated city, and this would have been the black downtown… whereas the downtown near where I am staying is the “white downtown.” Curious. We had a debate as to whether Missouri was a Confederate State or a free state. I still remember learning about the Missouri Compromise in 8th grade. It was confusing then, and it’s still confusing today.

We ended up going to Lindberg’s bar, the oldest bar in Springfield, and it was an incredible choice. As we walked in, Jason, the bouncer greeted us and didn’t charge us a cover. We got a nice table in the corner by the window, and we were just in time to hear these two women shredding the fiddle playing some Irish music. It was wonderful.

We ordered a couple of beers, local stuff, and enjoyed the show. Cathie was delighted when I told her about our writing Scrawl, and I happened to have a notebook with me so she could write. We took a little time to write and share, and our waitress, Dale, a college student and a writer, also partook. She gave the notebook to Jason, the bouncer, who overheard me talking about Latvia and came over to tell us his story about backpacking through the Baltics. It was like a family reunion.

He told us that a Reggae band was coming up followed by a funk band with “like 16 people on stage.” Good times.

As the reggae band, One Drop Pulse, played I went to see them up close. Live music is always better when you become a part of the crowd. Drunk people were grooving, and the lead guitar kept fiddling with his pickup. It was loose. After a song, I asked him if that was a feature, and he said, “No, it’s a broken piece of shit, but I love the way it sounds!” Who could argue with that logic.

Then the funk band set up, and the stage filled with a few horns, a keyboard, two singers, and a bunch of guitarists. My favorite part was this petite blond girl who just stood in the center of the stage with the light on her, warming up her vocals, making herself bigger than life. Surrounded by all these dudes, she just held her own like nothing else.

To tell you the truth though, I liked the reggae band better. I’m not exactly sure why, but there was just something more alive about their performance. Maybe it was the drummer who was like 6′ 8″, or the overweight bassist who just sat in a chair kicking ass and belting out a song of his own… but they just seemed really genuine. Even with the snapback caps and whatever, I appreciated their jam.

The night ended around midnight. Cathie took a Lyft home, and I meandered my way through the city streets forgetting which way was north and south. I don’t know why all cities can be as simple and direct as Omaha. Number streets go north and south, named streets go east and west. In Springfield, they all have names. You just have no idea what direction you are going unless you live here or look at a map. That is my only complaint about an otherwise wonderful night out.

I thought I would drive to Branson on Sunday, but I was just totally exhausted. I ended up taking a long nap in the afternoon, and then just waiting to go back to bed in the evening. I tell you what about CELTA… it wears you out in ways you didn’t know you could be worn out!

Four more days!

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