Monday, December 29, 2008

My hometown, swank-ified

For Christmas I went back to Grinnell, where nothing ever changes that much.

But it had changed! And I'm not talking about the old Wal-Mart closing and a bigger Wal-Mart opening (which also happened). The heart (or maybe the liver, or the appendix) of the town had changed: the bar went upscale. It wasn't actually called The Bar, it was The Pub (The Bar was the old name of the other bar a few blocks away.) The Pub was a basement with a concrete floor, and the bathrooms had plywood doors that didn't really latch. My ex-boyfriend almost got beat up there because he ignored the nuances of the rules about reserving the pool table by putting quarters on the edge. I hadn't been there for awhile, but never considered the possibility that it wasn't still there.

But the last night we were in town, we went out to eat at the fancy new restaurant--a New Orleans-themed one, with attractive lighting and some over-$20-entrees. After dinner we went downstairs to have a drink at the adjunct bar. It had low, leather-esque sofas and a martini menu. I don't think I ever would have realized that it was the former Pub unless someone had told me. In fact, the layout was exactly the same. (More to the point, it was in the same location.) It wasn't just the carpet, the paint, and the non-plywood bathroom doors that threw me--I just would never have considered the possibility that The Pub would have gotten all pimped out.

I'm a little confused as to what this all means. Is it a sign that Grinnell's self-conscious attempt to reposition its downtown as a tourist attraction is going well? An example of the general fancy-fication of the United States? (You can also get stinky cheeses in Grinnell now.) A reminder that nothing stays exactly the same? Has getting rusty at blogging made me start to write like Carrie Bradshaw?


Anonymous said...

Not to worry! All is well in Grinnell. It looks good, there are still retail stores in the downtown, and people are investing in their buildings. If that means people might visit (or eat stinky cheese), so be it!

And the old 'The Bar' was in the same place as 'The Pub' before it moved and became State Street Station.

Tim Carnahan said...

Look out; it's a slippery slope. My hometown now has a Banana Republic. When I left in 1994 it had a Village Inn.