I dropped by Good Sports Bar and Grill recently and it was a meaningful visit. It was the first time I’d returned to that establishment since leaving for Afghanistan.
Furthermore, my last meal in North Minneapolis was right there at Good Sports, with my son. After eating at Good Sports, I took my son home to his mom and kept on driving down I-35, to Camp Shelby, Mississippi, to deploy overseas. So when I went to Good Sports the other day, once again with my son, and as usual we had flavorful chicken wings with amazing secret spices, I said to myself, “I am back. I am really and truly back. This is where the journey began, and this is where it ends, with my son and these amazing chicken wings.”
I noticed some small changes to the restaurant…
Outside the back door (which is, for all intents and purposes, actually the main door) messages were hung offering rewards for anybody providing information about criminal activity on the premises. The inside was clean and nice…including the men’s room, which another blogger had griped about. A little too harshly and unnecessarily, I thought.
I was glad to see the messages about how crime would not be tolerated on the premises. Indeed, crime on the premises had shut down the previous bar at that location, Johnny A’s.
I noticed some stickers affixed to the door of Good Sports Bar, covered with clear adhesive tape. There’s a certain kind of clear tape that stands up well to both moisture and heat, the exact kind of tape I use to decorate my beverage cooler with stickers documenting my post-Afghanistan journeys.
Good Sports was using THAT kind of tape. Like a fly trapped in amber, a yellow Post-It note was beneath layers of adhesive tape, asking potential criminals, “Do You Feel Lucky, PUNK?”
For those too young to catch the homage, this was a line spoken by Clint Eastwood in one of his “Dirty Harry” movies. Of course, like many famous movie quotes, the exact movie line is slightly different than what people repeatedly say in conversation.
Like “Play it again, Sam” which is actually, “Play it, Sam” the exact quote in Dirty Harry is “Well, do you feel lucky? Do you, punk?”
Here is the video on YouTube. Judge for yourself.
The wings were delicious but the feeling of being completely safe inside that restaurant was even more yummy.
In Afghanistan, I had a little plastic container of the Good Sports dry rub mailed to me in a care package from North Minneapolis super citizen Megan Goodmundson. Sometimes I would sprinkle it on my army issue chicken for a taste of home. But, in an odd little place and time reversal, when I bit into the chicken at Good Sports the other day and tasted the dry rub, my mind went back to Forward Operating Base Gardez and the chow hall.
And so my journey was complete; it was one great circle, but I wasn’t the same person that left. I have the things I learned; I have lost time away from friends and family but I made new friends. I have aged but I have become more serene because each day is a good day. Each day there is running water and no truck bomb.
And, when it’s a REALLY good day, there is fried chicken at Good Sports Bar and Grill.
(Photos by John Hoff)