Mind Over Moon

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September 9th, 2014 by Moonie

NYC Transplant Part 1: Finding an Eagles Bar


I knew that moving to New York City would present new life challenges: finding the grocery store, navigating the weekend subway schedule, getting a job. Chief among these concerns, undoubtedly, was figuring out how to watch out-of-network Eagles games. For weeks prior to the 2014 NFL season opener I scoured Yelp for helpful reviews of Philadelphia Eagles bars in NYC. I opted to bypass options that, according to the reviews, boasted an obvious BroTown convention gathering for fear of being reminded exactly why Philadelphia fans have such a repugnant national reputation. I opted for Shorty’s, a Philadelphia themed bar with multiple locations and decent cheesesteak reviews.

We arrived a half hour early to the Financial District location in hopes of getting a seat. To our surprise the bar was nearly empty, save a couple of Jets fans nestled in at a corner TV. I recoiled immediately, entirely suspicious. We asked for a table near a TV with the Eagles game and the waitress regretfully informed me they were having problems with their NFL Network connection and would not be showing the Eagles game. A group of half a dozen Eagles fans congregated outside the bar in disgust, openly pondering how a bar with the Liberty Bell as their logo could commit such a blunder. With 24 minutes until kickoff, however, we were desperate. We chose to make a mad dash to the second Shorty’s location, at 28th and Madison, where we were assured the game was playing. There was no time for additional Yelping: the season opener was minutes away and we wouldn’t have to transfer trains to get there.

We approached the bar with hopeful trepidation: all was quiet on the streets of this Flatiron neighborhood. As we entered the doorway, however, a shift in energy: we barely squeezed inside amidst the sea of forest green jerseys. I could barely see the bartenders, let alone make contact with them. The game was in its first few plays, and the Eagles defense made a good tackle as the entire bar erupted in an abrupt but deafening cheer.

I looked over at my boyfriend. He was a good sport for agreeing to come with me, despite not being a football fan. He had brought his laptop in hopes of settling in at a table to get some work done while I watched the game. It was apparent there was no option in this bar except to stand shoulder to shoulder with raucous fans. He looked at me with this dejected, almost painful expression that clearly conveyed how unbearable he found this current situation. He was like a 2nd grader on the first day of school, lugging an oversized backpack while being asked to pose for pictures at the bus stop. I felt terrible for dragging him across Manhattan only for it to come to this.

“Just go,” I told him. “There’s nothing for you here.” He agreed to try to find a coffee shop nearby. I wasn’t keen to be at this bar by myself, nonetheless I persevered. When it came to watching an Eagles game, there was no choice in the matter.

After a beer, I settled in a bit. Everyone standing around me was friendly, and we all helped each other get the attention of the bartender. The sound guy even offered to put my beer on his table while I ate my cheesesteak standing up. It became apparent, also, that the reason I was standing amidst this crowded sea of strangers was that we all shared a common bond: our love of the Eagles. By the time the Eagles’s performance picked up in the second half, I felt as comfortable as I would on my own couch. The screaming at every play, singing and chanting at touchdowns, high five-ing strangers: it was actually fantastic. I even liked my cheesesteak.

I grew to not just tolerate, but enjoy this uncomfortably crowded bar. We didn’t just share a common love of a team; I had forgotten that we also once shared a location outside of this city. I chatted with people from rival high schools and joked with others about jerseys they bought of players who ended up being busts. We bonded over missing Wawa and discussed how our options looked downfield without Desean Jackson. For a few hours in the middle of Manhattan, I was home.