As a one-car family we make certain sacrifices. Now, wait. I take that back. That’s the ‘glass half-empty’ way of putting it. Let’s try this one on: As a one-car family we get to have some totally off-the-hook public transportation adventures that less fortunate multi-car families will never have. Yes. Much better.
So there’s four of us, and only one automobile. It usually works out fine. But then there are days when we all have to pile in the car bright and early, drive to Mom’s office to drop her off, go to an appointment of some sort, drive the car back to Mom’s office to drop it off for her use, and then find our own way home. Finding our own way home goes like this:
walking…waiting…TRAIN…waiting… still waiting…. I can’t believe we’re still waiting… BUS… walking home.
Now let’s face it. Bear, Bean and I really have nowhere to go. A little waiting and walking is not going to kill us. But it could very well bring on some good old-fashioned hypothermia on wintry days like the day of our recent adventure. So what is my crew to do when it finds itself quickly morphing from flesh to ice at 38th Street Station in South Minneapolis in the ‘I can’t believe we’re still waiting’ leg of the trip home? Why, head to the bar, of course!
What are the three of us going to do at a bar, you might ask? Yeah, I hear you. It’s 10:00 am on a Tuesday. Our average age is 13. Our median age is 3. Doesn’t exactly feel like a bar situation, I agree. But it’s right there. It’s open. It’s the Cardinal Bar and Restaurant.
The Cardinal is a pretty gritty place. It sits directly at the intersection of two loud and busy thoroughfares and the light rail line. Towering concrete grain elevators loom overhead. Dark and windowless, its dungeon-like vibe emits from every corner. Everything about the experience of walking through its front doors with my kids felt wrong to me. But let me tell you, the Cardinal came through.
As soon as we sat down in the nearly empty dining area, a waitress appeared. Without being asked, she changed the channel on the overhead TV from The Price is Right (which actually was quite mesmerizing for the kids) to Nickelodeon. She brought over a stack of kids books, activities, and crayons. Within minutes, there were french fries and glasses of milk… with straws! Moments later, another waitress appeared and presented some leftover Halloween candy to my kids. What?! Crayons, fries, straws, candy, and an episode of something apparently called Umizoomi… Bear and Bean were absolutely paralyzed by the multitude of amazing options at their disposal. To take part in even just one of these activities on a typical day would be beyond fantastic. And now, it had all materialized before them at once, just moments after frostbite had begun to set in while waiting for the 23. Sweet glorious day!
Not surprisingly, the kids mostly just stuck with the TV show, diverting their attention at brief occasional moments to nibble some candy. The Umizoomi effect was quite strong. Nothing could break the spell. At one point, a loud out-of-town drunk fellow began cursing at the barmaids about how awful they were for not giving him any money and how much better Milwaukee is than Minneapolis (which, BTW, really?!). Bear and Bean didn’t give that S.O.B. so much as a sideways glance.
However, as Umizoomi transitioned to Sponge Bob, I realized it was time to make our way out to catch the 11:08. Thankfully, the promise of a bus ride was enough to entice the children out of their newfound wonderland. Well done, Cardinal Bar. Well done.