By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Alice Laussade
By City of Ate
By Scott Reitz
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Alice Laussade
It opens at 7, but my all-too-kind date — who set an alarm to join me, with only breakfast tacos and dubious company to show for it — and I are the only people inside The Goat until just past 8, when a middle-aged couple takes the stools down the bar. A few more trickle in over the next couple hours. It's probably safe to say they didn't crab walk over from the CrossFit studio.
Being at a bar this early is less like being at a bar and more like watching people work while you sit on your ass drinking. You feel guilty not pitching in, moving a chair out of the way as they sweep or offering to slice up a few limes. But showing up this early gives a peek at its inner workings, the things you don't notice when you're taking a shot of courage before the karaoke host calls your name: the rattle of quarters in a coin-counting machine as a coin-op employee tallies the proceeds from the small assortment of eight-liner games; the bar manager across the table, doing paperwork of his own; the endless swish of the broom as a worker seems determined to take as long as possible sweeping the floor. The lack of urgency is a stark contrast to the hurried whatcanIgetcha you're used to.
The bartender, Jeremy, in his ponytail and Duck Dynasty T-shirt, says it usually doesn't pick up until about 10 on weekdays. Weekend mornings will bring in 7 a.m. customers still keeping the party going from the night before, but during the week the only early drinkers are Baylor workers coming off night shifts and an ex-Marine whose stories Jeremy never tires of.
It's slow enough and quiet enough — nobody feeds the jukebox this early — for conversation. I ask about the newish sign by the front door: No Vests, No Colors, No Clubs. It's to dissuade biker fights. Gypsies and Wolverines would occasionally stop by, but it was Scorpions who were the problem. The younger ones, he's quick to add — the older guys were respectful but the new guys were trouble. Since they put the sign out a few weeks ago, they haven't had any issues.
There are a handful of customers by the time Live with Kelly and Hey That's Not Regis comes on at 9, or 9:15 going by the bar's always-fast clocks. We watch for a while, even playing along with the show's insipid game "Guess the Glass," wherein contestants identify the celebrity in a photo as he or she is slowly revealed, eyewear first. It'll be 10 soon, and the lady with the broom still hasn't finished.--Jesse Hughey
7248 Gaston Ave.; thegoatdallas.com
The stubborn wooden doors containing the morning's entertainment won't even open for half an hour, but tensions are already high. Getting to the Addison Londoner early on big match days is necessary. Demand for seats in this smoky, dark, unreconstructed piece of British nostalgia far outstrips supply, to the point where I once watched a game from outside the bar in the stifling heat, only able to listen longingly to the sheer mayhem unfolding inside.
The doors are gingerly pushed open by a slight blonde waitress, and the rush for seats is on. It's coffee all around to start, but only until the clock strikes 10, which is by coincidence both kick-off time and the hour at which alcoholic beverages are first permitted. The hubbub will only grow as the taps start flowing and more jerseyed bodies file in, pressing against each other in search of real estate. Smoking is permitted inside, so the bar soon disappears under a haze of coffee and nicotine, and kick-off time for both sport and drinking is greeted with a harried waitress slowly making the rounds. It could be any hour at all in here.
She's generally ignored, of course, as the first chant of the day goes up. Drinking with British soccer fans is not like drinking with other sports fans. There's chanting, the wittier and more derogatory the better, and the proximity of the groups of fans soon brings out lurid chants in which dozens of grown men band together to wish death upon an entire group of people, or just joyfully curse at them. Once, at a game here between the two Manchester clubs at another ungodly hour on a Sunday, I saw a full-on conga line winding through the entire bar in celebration of the surely imminent death of one team's 70-year-old coach.
The soccer is uneventful today, but the drinking and smoking help the atmosphere reach a fever pitch the games themselves can't. Watching these colors being beamed over an ocean from 5,000 miles away at what is now 11 on a Sunday morning should be a dissociative experience, one that is jarring in its manufactured fakeness. It's not. It's just like watching soccer in any packed bar in the world, only this time a whole day of drinking and the endless possibilities of that stretch in front of you. Although the soccer season just ended, the drinking has only just started.--Gavin Cleaver