The mayor and I in April aboard the Belle of Louisville.
The Bar Bell and the mayor in April aboard the Belle of Louisville.

I might have previously said in this space that I wouldn’t bother the mayor again with my insatiable pleading for a key to the city. I was tired of talking about it, and I’m sure he was tired of hearing my desperation through whispers, shouts and countless emails from concerned citizens of this fine city.

But last time we rubbed elbows — on the Belle of Louisville during the Great Steamboat Race at Derbytime — I asked him point blank what it would take to finally own that damn key. He looked at me like I had snuck up from steerage, took a long draw from his cup of bourbon (or maybe that was me), and said in his stoic Humphrey Bogart-meets-robot drawl: “Well, kid, you need to do something good for the community — something positive.”

“I have a pub crawl,” I defiantly said, “and it makes people happy!”

He called for security and headed to the dance floor where Nervous Melvin & The Mistakes were serenading the gussied-up guests like it was 1997. But before he disappeared into the pool of prancing penguins, he uttered something along the lines of: “I’ve got a job to do, too. Where I’m going, you can’t follow. What I’ve got to do, you can’t be a part of. Bar Belle, I’m no good at being noble, but it doesn’t take much to see that the problems of three little people don’t amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world. Someday you’ll understand that.”

Mmmkay. Wasn’t sure where he was off to or why little people were involved, but I let it go. I moved on with my life and continued to be a second-string cheerleader for Louisville — promoting bourbon, beer and all things queer everywhere I went.

The 12th annual No Cover Walk took place Aug. 29.
The 12th annual No Cover Walk took place Aug. 29.

Well, I held my annual No Cover Walk pub crawl last weekend, and I got to thinking. I organized an event that brought out over 100 people on a Saturday night, and we spent our hard-earned money locally at more than 15 bars and restaurants in the Highlands. And my crew was not responsible for any of the carnage left behind by those wicked walkers. In fact, we were accosted by several undead urchins and quickly created an escape route to the next bar to avoid the frenzy.

I channeled my inner Rick Grimes and started yelling “Carl!” and “Have you seen my boy?” at the top of my lungs. My friend took out her lipstick and wielded it like Michonne’s samurai sword. Somehow, we survived.

But back to my point, which took longer than Kim Davis’ first marriage. I’m not too good with math, hence the journalism degree, but 100 people spending an average of $3.50 in 12 (there were 16 on our route, but rules said you could skip four) locally owned bars/restaurants amounts to more than $4,200 spent — not including tips for the hardworking bartenders, snacks along the way and Uber, Lyft and taxi rides home. And on top of that, we had our T-shirts printed with local company Kopilot Press.

So, Mr. Mayor, does that count for doing something positive for the community? Here’s looking at you, kid, for the answer.

You’re more than welcome to join us next year to see firsthand how we bring smiles and dolla-dolla bills y’all to the Highlands without causing a ruckus.

* * *

Don’t Judge My Package: Surviving A 20-Year High School Reunion

Why do we torture ourselves with scales, Donald Trump, kale smoothies and high school reunions? Isn’t life hard enough without these things? If they disappeared tomorrow, no tear would fall into my beer.

Go Red Devils!
Go Red Devils!

Despite my reservations, I recently ventured home to Tipp City, Ohio, a small town north of Dayton, for my 20-year high school reunion. Explaining my decision for self-inflicted torture would be like trying to make sense of Kanye’s VMA speech, bro. I mean, what really is the purpose of award shows? I think he’s on to something.

But back to the reunion. While I didn’t have an awful time, I did briefly have that awkward teenage angst bubble up from deep inside. I thought that shy, self-doubting, self-conscious Sara of 13 had been buried with layers upon layers of confidence that come with age. Turns out she’s not too far below the surface, as all the anxiety of finding a table to sit at during lunch in junior high came rushing back as I scanned the room for someone I knew.

I realized reunions are all about presenting the package that is your life since graduation. You’re your own PR team, and depending on your spin, you either come out looking great, or like the loser you felt like 20 years ago.

The experience was unnerving at first, with every conversation a PowerPoint presentation of your package. But once the fear of judgement lessened with the aid of several drinks at the bar, it felt good to reconnect with the people you spent 12 formative years with. Some got fatter, some got hotter, some lost their hair, some got divorced, some had kids, some write columns about drinking — but mostly, everyone stayed the same.

Cheers to the Tippecanoe High School class of ’95. May we meet in another 20 …

* * *

Shameless Promotion: ‘Bar Belle Book Vol. 2’ Update

FrontSo yeah, I have my second compilation book out now, and I’m partaking in a whirlwind book ‘n’ bar tour around the city. Last week, Insider’s Kevin Gibson wrote a little about it when he took over my “7 Questions” gig.

But I just wanted to let you know of a few dates where you can find me — if you, in fact, were looking for me. (Mr. Mayor, I’m talkin’ to you.) Below is the schedule … hope to see you around!

  • Wednesday, Sept. 9: The Back Door (1250 Bardstown Road), 6-8 p.m.
  • Sunday, Sept. 13: Big Bar (1202 Bardstown Road), 2-5 p.m.
  • Thursday, Sept. 17: The Planet (1565 Bardstown Road), 7-9 p.m.
  • Friday, Sept. 18: Apocalypse Brew Works (1612 Mellwood Ave.), 6-9 p.m.
  • Friday, Sept. 25: The Wine Rack (2632 Frankfort Ave.), 6 p.m.
  • Saturday, Sept. 26: NuLu Fest, 11 a.m.-3 p.m.
  • Friday, Oct. 2: Regalo Gifts (562 S. Fourth St.), 6 p.m.

Also, be sure to tune into WFPK this Friday, Sept. 4, as I’ll be taking over the airwaves at 91.9-FM with my buddy Laura Shine from 5-6 p.m. Besides getting a key to the city, my other local bucket list item is to sneak a Debbie Gibson song on the radio. I see this as my closest chance to get ‘er done. Wish me luck!

Sara Havens
Sara Havens is the Culture Editor at Insider Louisville, known around town as the Bar Belle (barbelleblog.com). She's a former editor of LEO Weekly and has written for Playboy and The Alcohol Professor. Havens is the author of two books: "The Bar Belle" and "The Bar Belle Vol. 2."