I was a latecomer to the Dog Brothers and was never accepted as more than an associate member, but in my head, I will always be one of them.
The Dog Brothers were my bar family. We met every weekday at about four o’clock, the start of happy hour, at a designated table in the back of a tavern in Portland called Winners.
We Dog Brothers all had normal names for use at home and at work, but we also had Dog names. There was Wheels, so-named because of his lack of speed on the softball field when the Dog Brothers battled the Rock-n-Roll All Stars, another bar family that did its drinking half a mile down the road. There was Pilgrim, who claimed to be descended from a passenger on the Mayflower. There was Smut, Gray, Doggy Daddy, Higgy, Cave Man, Woody, and others whose names I have forgotten. I was called Consigliere, a nod to my day job as a lawyer. When I had earned a seat with the Dog Brothers, they no longer played softball. They talked softball, but the way they described the games makes me remember Dog softball as if I’d been there.
At Winners, we drank beer. I drank Henry Weinhard’s Dark until the owners stopped carrying it on tap, after which the barkeeps made up a substitute for me consisting of a regular Henry Weinhard’s with a splash of stout to turn it dark. They would draw one for me the moment they saw me come through the door so that it would be ready by the time I reached the bar.
Every day we gathered to share our joys and woes, solve the world’s problems, and rehash Blazer games. Sometimes we would migrate to the pool tables or throw darts. A couple of us might challenge the lone pinball machine, but mostly we talked. Between six and seven, at the end of happy hour, we would disperse back to our houses, empty apartments, or other taverns. On Fridays, with no work the following day, we would dine on burgers and fries at Winners and stay until the last call sent us home.
On sunny Saturdays, we played golf at one of the inexpensive public courses. We’d play early, finish up for drinks and breakfast at the clubhouse, and then go to Winners to rehash the game. I was there for the golf, but like softball, the Dog Brothers eventually gave that up too. We talked about golf instead.