Monday, December 05, 2005

The End of an Era

When I was a child, I never threw anything away. I would happily horde soaps shaped like animals, pretty ribbons from gift boxes, old gum wrappers from gum chewed on memorable days--virtually anything. While attempting to clean my room, my exasperated mother would cry, over my protestations, "Arabella, you have fifty thousand things in this room and every single one of them is precious." Had Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle lived in our town, I surely would have been sent over there for some gingerbread and tea and a magic remedy on a cold midwinter day.

I'm more discriminating now. Mostly. Still, some things are precious, and the thought of losing them makes me want to cry.

Ty took this gorgeous photo of McHale's last Friday night. We wanted something to remember it by.

Because McHale's is closing in January.

Inside, you'd never know it but for some farewell graffiti on the wall from its uniquely varied patrons--cops, investment bankers, firemen, Broadway dancers, law students. This past Friday our group of 6 waited over two hours for a table in the dining room. No one wants to leave McHale's.

Its burgers are the best I've ever had. Thick, juicy, huge. In a town with $12 martinis (and a neighborhood with a standard tourist mark-up), bacon costs an extra fifty cents. Every time period collides inside McHale's. The art-deco etched glass lettering on the windows reads "Gaiety Cafe," from a time when that meant something different. The '70's-era wood paneling in the dining room reminds me of a friend's description of our college bar: "It's as if Greg Brady designed a sex pit." The lamps at the wonderfully circular wooden booths have old-fashioned double-pronged plugs. I fancied that the baseball bat in the ladies' room had been thoughtfully placed there for old-fashioned Brooklyn-style self-defense, until C.S. pointed out that it was anchored to the sink for support.

It is a divey bar where single women feel comfortable, yet men are still men. Busloads of tourists flock to the overpriced restaurants in its immediate vicinity, but nary a one ventures inside McHale's. There is a refreshing absence of silicone and pretense. Outside, you can cross the street and choose between pornographic DVD's and "I Heart NY" t-shirts.

I've been to McHale's as a single young student, accompanied by men who were not my husband. I've been there with my brother and my parents, who sipped beer and contentedly recalled their old college hangout, reveling in the circularity of life. I've been there with my husband by my side, squeezing my knee, a young married couple enjoying one of the few inexpensive meals in the Theatre District. I've been there with friends, sharing the few remaining seats at the bar. I've been hit on there while pushing thirty and feeling my age. When it closes, part of my youth will slip away with it.

Cheers, McHale's. Thanks for it all.


Blogger Mrs. Harridan said...

It's been awhile since I've visited my favorite dive, but I sure would be sad to see it go.

I think it's very sweet that you and Ty both posted about McHale's. Great minds and all that. :)

4:45 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home