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The Dive Bomber: Shakin' at the Office #3

With Snowmageddeon '10 looming to the west, I hoped to get some local old-man weather reports over bottles of Stag but didn't want to venture far from my Metro East home.

So my east-side friend Erin and I visited the Belleville branch of The Office -- not to be confused with the South City cat bar or the North County gereatric-oke bar from past bombings.

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Robin Wheeler
Snow? Not of concern. The bar was hopping. Pool players broke so hard it sounded like limbs cracking under the weight of ice. Two players wore matching red shirts with "Here for the beer" written on the back.

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Robin Wheeler
Erin and I sat separate from most of the crowd. Because I haven't learned much in the year I've been writing Dive Bomber, I had my back to the bar. That was fine; it heightened my sense of hearing. I got to visualize the early 1980s videos of my childhood as the songs played on the jukebox.

Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'" is almost bearable when it's played without hipster irony, although it rendered Erin unable to focus. "Too Much Time on My Hands" by Styx made me stop caring about imminent snow death because, dude -- best bar video ever!

Erin's a young'un. She's turning 28 this week. Not cottoning to rock classics older than she is, she illustrated the problem with those damn new-fangled internet jukeboxes by playing some Muse.

A hush fell. No one approached the jukebox for a good ten minutes. "I'm going to go play some good music," someone finally muttered, punching in that 3 Doors Down song from the caveman insurance commercials. Then the pool players had a sing-a-long to "Only the Good Die Young."

"It might be awhile before they let us come back," Erin said.

I hope not, because there's a lot to love about The Office. Friendly staff and crowd. Cheap bottles of Stag. A loud story told that included the bit, "I saw a one-armed stripper a few weeks ago. She worked that nub like nobody's business!"

When Erin and I left, it was to the opening synth strains of "Separate Ways (Worlds Apart)," with the crowd bidding us a friendly farewell, despite our musical faux pas. Maybe we'll be welcomed back with open arms.

Robin Wheeler writes the blog Poppy Mom and is a regular contributor to Gut Check. She also has a strange attraction to drinking establishments with jars of pickled -- or possibly fossilized -- eggs. She reports on these dives every Thursday.

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