Bar Hoping

Sean runs a trivia company out of Minnesota

called “Trivia Mafia.”

Currently there is only one bar

in all of Milwaukee

(the city with more bars than grocery stores)

where you can play Trivia Mafia

and that bar is Vintage.

Here is why Sean and his dad came down for the weekend:

to go bar hopping, cialis

or rather bar hoping

that they will get some Trivia Mafia installed.

At the moment father and son are playing chess together

in the Lobby Lounge,

remembering the Milwaukee of the father’s kidhood.

How he went to Rufus King High School on the west side

long before leaving for Chicago to get his doctorate in Economics,

becoming a professor in Massachusetts,

then the president of Macalester College,

the job that brought him and Sean to St. Paul.

Each week Trivia Mafia features six rounds of five questions,

four of them have a theme,

and two of them are just general knowledge.

Sean admits,

“I love presidential trivia.”

About 54 bars in the Twin Cities play Trivia Mafia.

Sean’s Mafia hopes to expand its presence

in Rochester, Duluth, Fargo and Milwaukee.

Sean’s father visits Milwaukee a lot

now that he has moved to Chicago.

He tells me that he just attended a conference

at Marquette University all about morality and psychology.

At the conference he learned how practicing mindfulness and meditation

has been measured by scientists to make you a better person.

“In a nutshell,

my economics training did not prepare me very well

for participating in that conference,

but it was a fascinating couple days.”

Sean went to the University of Minnesota

where he designed his own degree,

dropped out,

played music,

traveled nationally with a band called Heiruspecs,

then he finished his degree in music,

African American studies, cultural studies,

“and did the only thing you can with those degrees

which is run a trivia company!”

Aside from Trivia Mafia,

Sean also teaches a few classes at a music college

and plays bass for “Dessa.”

I ask father and son who usually wins at chess when they play.

Son replies, “Historically him, by a long shot.”

Father replies, “As my mental decline continues

and his maturation proceeds,

I think the tables are shifting.”

The supportive and proud father goes on to say,

“A lot of trivia contests are pure memory,

like ‘what was the name of the character this person played in that movie?’

but these guys are really good at asking questions

that make you think.

One of my all time favorite questions was,

‘who was the last president of the United States to wear a full beard

while in office?’

And you know, you’re not just going to know that,

but you’re going to think, well,

certainly by the time of Roosevelt

there weren’t any more full beards,

and the last one was obviously after Lincoln,

you know you’re in the late 19th century,

but the thing is you can make an educated guess,

it’s not like you either know it or you don’t.”

When I get up to leave, the mafia

tries to make an offer I can’t refuse:

“Tomorrow, Vintage, 5 ‘O Clock.

You can be on our team.”

 

 

A Mom Letter and a Dad Letter

DSCN9418

I was taking a picture of the roses in the lobby when Val, the bartender summoned me over to see something. I took a stool at the bar and waited for a moment as Val rustled around in her bag, elbow deep.  At last she exclaimed “Ah!” and pulled out an envelope to show me. It was sent from a woman named Coco who came here for a birthday drink the other day, along with her baby. Coco’s friend and her friend’s baby joined her for the celebration.

coco

I took the contents out of the envelope and saw a most charming picture. Val got to know the two ladies and their babies quite well over a period of three hours, and asked, “Would you write this woman a letter back for me?”

coco poem

So I wrote Coco a poem on one of Valerie’s guest checks and sent it to the return address on the envelope.

 

Soon after Coco emailed me that she wrote a blog about getting a letter from the Pfister in the mail.  So,

IjustwroteheranemailthatIwrotethisblogaboutheremailaboutherblogaboutgettingaletterinthemailbecause,

shesentaletterinthemailaboutapleasantafternoonofpolitevalets,chattingandbabies!

Phew!!

 

Another day, another letter:

lydia's daddy

A father comes to me in need of his daughter’s forgiveness. In the city of Madison where he and his family reside, there is a highly competitive theater program for kids. His daughter, Lydia tried out for a production of “Snow White and the Seven Dwarves,” in hopes of being cast as one of the dwarves. Lydia, who is in fourth grade and has never had an opportunity like this before, was a nervous mess the morning of her audition. Sympathetic to her distraught, Lydia’s dad gave her a pearl of encouragement, “Don’t worry, everything will turn out just fine!”

 

The two of them stayed up late, awaiting the phone call to let them know if Lydia would be expected to come back in for call-backs the following day. It was so late by the time the phone finally rang, Lydia was already put to bed. She was wide awake when her father came in and told her the answer was no. Lydia sobbed, dampening her pillow. Her dad assured her that she was younger than the rest of the kids who had tried out, and that it was likely that she would be cast in the coming years, then said goodnight.

 

The next morning, as Lydia glumly ate her cereal she told her father, “You lied. You said everything would be fine, but everything is not fine.”

 

The statement unsettled him, and the combination of his daughter’s broken heart and distrust in his word tarnished his entire day. So much so that when his job brought him to the Pfister hotel and he met me, he asked for a poem of encouragement (not from him or his perspective!) to give his child.  lydia