Oregon Tavern Age: Birthday

It was my 58th birthday and what better way to celebrate than having a beer in an OTA joint I’d never visited.

So there I was in the Spot Again Tavern in Molalla after hiking around Silver Falls State Park, one of the crown jewels of Oregon socialism.

I ordered a craft malt liquor from the bespectacled, goateed and tattooed bartender, who wore a well-worn cowboy hat. He served up my beer and I retired to a back table and surveyed the spacious joint: antlers everywhere, piano, three pool tables, dartboards, slot machines, foos ball table and lending library.

Someone called from the freezer that all the steaks were frozen. Two men silently left the tavern after losing at slots. It was just before noon on a Thursday. Over the bar, a white board advertised a steak and eggs breakfast special for $9.95 (with hash browns and toast!). It was accompanied by an exquisite drawing of Elmer Fudd holding a shotgun.

If truth be told, I lived in Molalla for one year, in 1970, after my family had returned from missionary service in Brazil. I remember almost nothing about Molalla except the family that lived next door in the other side of a our duplex. It was a Vietnam vet, his Vietnamese wife, and their toddler son. I suspect that was pretty brave in Molalla circa 1970. The war wasn’t winding down at all by then.

A rotund OTA man walked into the joint and ordered a coffee. He took a seat at the bar and then launched into a profanity-laced tirade against Biden, liberals and John Kerry (!?!?). He praised the fighting spirit of the Ukrainians and said if Molalla was invaded, he’d fight to the death and post the living shit out of it on social media.

And then he doused more vitriol on Biden and lit him on fire. As I have written and lamented before, Donald Trump killed OTA storytelling for all time. It will never return. Thanks Trump, you son-of-a-bitch! It takes a special kind of evil to kill stories.

Maybe I should just give up on these joints altogether. But dammit, you can’t find any decent stories in brew pubs or wine bars! No one in these joints has ever barbecued an eel some osprey dropped from the sky or drank so much Jagermeister that he shit himself in the bathtub.

I tuned out the madman and his now obnoxious phone conversation about his pickup and driving a dump truck.

Oh I pine for the days when OTA men talked about logging, fishing and degeneracy and not insane conspiracy theories and YouTube videos confirming their truth displayed on phones.

Fifty-eight! I’ll soon start collecting a modest pension from my itinerant teaching career that seems as far away to me as the Ice Age or Tom McCall Republicans.

The bartender fired up the deep fryer and grease gurgled to life like the witches’ cauldron in Macbeth. I’m sure deep fried spotted owl and roadkill Portland hippie taste delicious!

I wrote some drivel in a notebook. I reflected on my time in Silver Falls State Park. The OTA man then told the bartender his vintage Corvette was parked outside. In other words, he’d driven his fancy sports car to the Spot Again Tavern in Molalla to drink a coffee on a late weekday morning and bitch about Joe Biden. That was his recreation. I wonder what he used to do for fun. Maybe he wasn’t even angry then.

He’s never coming back from the abyss and for that I am truly sad.