The OP Neighborhood

I decided this afternoon to hit up a couple of bars I hadn't been to near my neighborhood. First off was Birdies on 75th St and Antioch, in the same strip mall as the Panera. I actually signed the offer for my house at Birdies, but only because Panera was packed and we couldn't find a seat. I actually signed my first apartment lease a long time ago in a Tanners, so I have a long history of signing housing paperwork in bars.

Birdies actually would remind someone of a small Tanners only with a golf theme. I haven't actually been there since I did sign my offer sheet so I consider Birdies a new bar for me (it's also been about 5 years since I was there). One thing bad about living in the suburbs in the midwest is the absence of the neighborhood bar (unless you count Applebees a neighborhood bar, I don't). Birdies is about the closest thing to a neighborhood bar in Johnson County. I felt right at home there. The crowd skewed a little bit older; at the time I walked in, I'm pretty sure I was the youngest one in the bar. I even got carded when I ordered my Guinness. My goodness, my Guinness was even served at the right temperature, maybe even a little warm. What a nice change from everywhere else where it's served ice cold.

I was able to sit back on my barstool, that's right the barstools had backrests. I got to sit back and watch the Chargers beat the Colts. The fine folks at Birdies even had the sound for the game pumping through the bar's speakers. It's a perfect place to sit back and watch a playoff football game. The oldsters hanging around even were pretty well informed, especially for people wearing KU gear (KU gear is usually a sure sign of sports ignorance). I meant to only have one Guinness but I just couldn't resist another since the game was tight and I wasn't sure about the next location's sports barness (that's right I made that word up, live with it). Sadly, the only drawback to Birdies is the rather uninspired tap choices, Bud, Bud Light, Bud Select, Miller Lite and Coors Light as well as Buinness and Boulevard Wheat and Pale Ale.

When the Chargers game was no longer in doubt I drove on over to the next location, The Final Approach Bar and Grill on the Frontage Road and maybe 69th Street, near the Quiktrip. I've always been intrigued by this bar location because it used to have the worst name since the old Cox and Diaz Bar and Grill (say it out loud), Mulvaney's Beef and Brew. I used to throw up in my mouth a little when I drove by Mulvaney's Beef and Brew on I-35. I'm sure Mulvaney was an idiot. The Beef and Brew was open for a long time though, so they must have done something right.

The Final Approach looked sketchy from the get-go. I walked in the door and the first thing I noticed was 2 big screen TV's right by the doors. Facing the TV's were a set of airplane seats and a set of movie theater seats. I'd never seen any setup quite like it. The bar was on my left and as I approached, I noticed the only seat available was right next to a dude wearing a Wichita State jacket. What a great omen. I sat down and asked the bartender what was on tap, the taps were at the other end of the bar and I couldn't see what exactly they were. Flying Monkey Amber won the day for me and the bartender made the long trek to the end of the bar to pour it. I made myself comfortable and asked the dude next to me the age old question "you a Shocker?". For those not in the know, we Shockers running around town are sick of only seeing KU, KSU and Mizzou crap on everyone and we always give a shout out to other Shockers, it's a Shocker thing you wouldn't understand (to paraphrase the kind of stupid Jeep saying). It turns out this guy was a Shocker alumnus. We shared a couple of stories about living right by campus, these stories always involve bullets, gunshots and close calls (you would have similar stories if you went to an inner city school, and I have those stories also).

Then, the dude started telling the interesting stories that I knew were coming based on his jacket. See, he was wearing a really old WSU baseball jacket with his number on it, meaning he was a Shocker baseball player. This may not mean anything to you but he was of the age where he may have been on a really memorable team, the 1982 College World Series runner-ups. Sure enough, he was a sophomore in 1982. On that team was Joe Carter, Phil Stephenson, Bryan Oelkers (a first round pick that year), Charlie O'Brien, Loren Hibbs and a guy whose most famous for getting hit in the face by a pitch in the CWS by Calvin Schiraldi, one Kevin Penner. Kevin Penner was one of my favorite players when I was a kid because of that pitch and because he was extremely helpful to me at Shocker baseball camp when I was 10 years old. I won't bore you with the details of some of the inside stories of the 1982 WSU baseball team but I will put out a Shocker alert. Joe Carter or anyone else from that team, you need to contact D.O.. He's not doing well and he may need your help.

Needless to say, I had a good time talking to the old Shocker, but the bar also had many other things going on. The Giants-Cowboys game was just starting and this girl who would remind someone of Joy from "My Name is Earl" yelled for the bartender to turn up the jukebox. He cranked it, apparently Joy had purchased a song, "You're So Vain". Yes The Final Approach IS the type of bar where everyone sings the chorus of "You're So Vain" out loud with the song. Not since the old college days at The Field House in Wichita have I encountered a bar where everyone spontaneously sings the chorus to a song (at the Field House it was "Girl, You'll Be a Woman Soon"). Also, a little bit of freedom or civil disobedience was happening at The Final Approach. I heard the bartender tell a patron that "those bastards will have to take the cigarettes from my customers cold dead hands before we don't allow smoking in here" (I'm paraphrasing, he may have said "they aren't going to come in here"). I was the only one in the bar not smoking. In case you weren't aware, Overland Park has a brand new smoking ban, but apparently the owners of the Final Approach agree with Thoreau and me that if the law is unjust, break the law. It's possible that the patrons at the Final Approach also believe the meth laws are unjust also.

I left pretty quickly, if it wasn't for the Shocker I would have stayed an even shorter amount of time, it was quite smoky. I had a pretty good time hitting a couple of Johnson County bars. I now know that Birdies is a pretty good place to watch a football game and The Final Approach is a good place to inhale smoke and sing 70's songs out loud.

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