Mudcat Café message #106566 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #13097   Message #106566
Posted By: Jack (who is called Jack)
19-Aug-99 - 01:04 PM
Thread Name: Favorite pubs - tell us about yours
Subject: RE: Favorite pubs - tell us about yours
The best 'pub' in Cleveland bar none (pun intended) is The Barking Spider. Its in an area called University Circle, which was once populated by the affluent of the gilded age a century ago, but is now a nexus of museums, universities, hospitals, concert halls etc. The Spider is located in a sizable old carraige house; small, dark, ivy covered on two sides, and decorated within with eclectic paintings by local artists. There's a wood stove in the corner, and local musicians every night for whom they pass the hat. It has a great owner/manager named Martin, in his 50s, who is tall, portly, with a big grey mane and beard, kind of like a Santa Claus in blue denim and flannel. He has two beautiful daughters who sometimes tend bar. There was, until recently, an old stray mutt, named him Blackie that Martin adopted and let live out his last years at the pub. Blackie was partially deaf and a little blind, and would mosey around bumming backscratches and smokies from the patrons. It has game room in the garage area, and a wall sized public bulletin board next to the bar. There's always some dog-eared reading material scatter about--usually some Scientific Americans, National Geographics and some other eclectic publications. A hangout for artists, students, musicians, professors...anyone really, the Spider has a seemingly infinite supply of the atmosphere that other bars work so hard to create but never do.

The Spider virtually saved my wedding too. The nuptuals were planned for the last week in December. I was in engineering school and working full time, taking two graduate level courses. My wife-to-be was an ICU nurse and had decided to do most of the wedding details herself (including making her own wedding dress). Even thought we only planned a small candlelight ceremony with about 40 freinds and family, it was still a lot to do. Also, Christmas was comimg with all that entails, we were in a carolling club, and I forget what else, but suffice it to say we were stretched about 20 fathoms beyond our limits.

So its the first Friday after exams, about 3 weeks before the wedding. She calls me at the end of our work shifts and says that she NEEDS to go out NOW for a beer or twelve or she's going to go postal. Anyplace will do as long as a) there is beer, and b) its nowhere near the vicinity of that damned wedding dress. I had just learned of the Spider so I gave her directions to meet me there. School's already out so the place is near deserted. Just Martin, Blackie, a bartender, and one or two regulars sitting around the fire. The wall by the fireplace is all windows, and we sat there till 1 a.m., drinking, relaxing, talking, petting the dog and watching the snow fall gently outside. We felt more deliciously removed from our lives for those few hours than we have on most of our vacations since then. It wasn't just what we needed, it was everything we could have wanted.