Why I went to a bar in Wisconsin

It’s been an interesting and challenging few months, to say the least.

We are in un-chartered territory dealing with the first pandemic in many of our lifetimes.

I have to say I was scared to let anyone know I did this.  You won’t find any pics or videos in my Instagram feed or stories, no quick post on Facebook.

This felt like the only safe way to share which included context.

That’s because there is too much judging happening right now around the globe, in our states, neighborhoods and even under my own roof.

It doesn’t help that we are inundated with data, news and opinion pieces on social media.

I’m sure some would be quick to call me and the rest of us in that bar “Idiots” or “Selfish”.  Others might applaud our trip across the border and the Wisconsin Supreme Court for making it possible.  Unfortunately Covid-19 has not only impacted people’s health but it’s also led to a deeper divide in political views.

So how did I end up going? It’s not a decision I made lightly. In fact it started with an argument the morning of Saturday, May 16th.

My initial thought was we can’t go.   My mom’s 81st birthday was coming up and what would it mean for seeing my parents even from 6 feet away on our deck?

But somehow my viewpoint was swayed.   It almost felt like I was in high school again dealing with peer pressure and making a decision I normally would not on my own.  I think what may have propelled me over the edge was the journalist inside of me who was curious. What would it be like? What types of people would be there?

By noon I had agreed to go,  understanding there could consequences.

Off we went from the Minneapolis suburbs to Hudson.  There was free parking everywhere.

Some establishments were still curbside and takeout only.

But you could sense the energy of the people in the streets.  Shops were open and select restaurants and bars were serving people inside and on their patios.

We ventured into one of the open bars.  I’m not good at estimating percentage capacities but I think it would be safe to say most people were not 6 feet apart.  However other areas of the bar had much more space between tables and people.

Wisconsin Bar May 16, 2020
A Bar in Wisconsin May 16, 2020

For our part, we stayed in our own area very close to the front door.  Not to say we didn’t get in a line to buy a drink, but we did our best to keep to ourselves.  After a short period a security guard was outside making sure the place stayed under the capacity guidelines.

Standing by the front door provided us a unique opportunity.  We were the first to see everyone’s faces when they walked through the threshold and caught a glimpse of what was inside.  Most of the time I would classify it as Shock and Awe.

I don’t recall anyone who turned around.  We would ask people where they were from.  Of those we asked, most were from the Twin Cities area or Minnesota.  And I would say at least half the people there if not more,  were NOT 20 something’s. They were in our age group.  Either Graying or all gray!!  For real.

But I think what made me sad actually, was all the smiles and how happy everyone was just to be there.  For a moment we were transported from reality.  A reality where at different moments I felt guilty, unsure of my decision to go.

We talked about how places were open on one side of the river raking in the dollars where businesses on the other side of the river were empty and closed.

I don’t know the answer. I don’t know what’s right or better or smarter.

I know the guy behind the piano was in a better position to keep his distance (thanks to the baby grand) and probably had a long over due opportunity to make some tips.

The Piano Man
Supporting the local musician

What do I hope you take away from all of this?

Not sure.  For those of you who know me, you may look at me differently after reading this. You may think less of me.

But I really think only time will tell if this really was a bad decision.  My whole life I have tended to play things safely.  Was going to a bar in Hudson a risk? 100 percent.

Was it worth it?

I’ll guess I’ll know more in two weeks.