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Bucket of Bud 

Winfield's Bar, 3234 Morganford Avenue, 314-664-3213

Let us rejoice at the August just past, and mark it in our collective memory. Yes, August 2004, when the stars guided the cool Canadian jet stream deep into our lungs. Yeah, we had a few steamers, but overall in August 2004 there were more erect nipples in St. Louis than any time since the Ice Age -- way more high-beams, way more aching loins, way more action. Let's hoist a longneck to chilly summer nights, threadbare curtains unfurled by a breeze, skin-on-skin. Ten bucks says we see a baby spike in May 2005.

Sixty years hence, when we're relaxing in front of a Mars sunset, the cabana-bot will deliver us a bucket of Budweiser -- six of them in a pail with ice. We will flip off the cap, swig big and gulp down the crisp refreshing taste of a frosty Budweiser while the red planet turns maroon as the sun goes down.

"Do you remember the August of 2004 back on Earth?" we will telepath to our significant others. "Holy androids! There were sweater nights that summer, campfire nights -- in St. Louis! In August! I shit you not! That was the last nice breeze before the twenty-year dustbowl blight." Ah well.

In the short term, though, we'll be at Winfield's, shooting pool in the back room, swilling a Bud bucket for $9 and eating peanuts. Because at Winfield's, time stands gloriously still. Here, it's more same shit, different day than duty now for the future. The sunset is American -- i.e., ignored in favor of the Keno monitor, the Cards game, the Camels and Cuervo -- and is impeded by the neon Bud signs in the window.

Winfield's is like 90 percent of St. Louis bars, the stealth ones that fill our neighborhoods' nooks and crannies. It's a corner establishment that sells predominantly Anheuser-Busch products to the smokers who shoot the shit with the dudes and dudettes who, like you, feel like ditching the digs for the comfort of a dirty, low-lit place. In the men's john, a black-and-white poster of a naked lady hangs about the toilet. She's holding a frosty bottle of beer, which covers her left nipple. The caption reads: "A man cannot live on beer alone."

The pool table is in the back room, but don't worry, you can still hear the jukebox scream "You Give Love a Bad Name." Sit the bucket o' beer on a table and commence to hack away at the felt with a game of nine-ball. Pool, peanuts and Budweiser: It's a good symbiotic thing. The more beer you drink, the more delicious the salty peanuts will be. They, in turn, enhance the whole Bud-drinking experience, which will lubricate your pool game, which will result in a five-ball run, after which you will return to the beer and peanuts and watch as your opponent sinks the eight, then the nine, to win the game.

This will bum you out, and you'll want to pop open another Bud. Do it. Live the good life here on Earth. Inhale a lungful of secondhand smoke. Celebrate the wishy-washy weather. Play some eight-ball. Have another Budweiser, King of Beers, here at the beginning of the end of the summer of 2004.

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