The Need for Irregular “Regulars”

Cheers Where Everybody knows your nameSuch a funny word, regular, stemming from the Latin root, regula or ‘rule.’

regular |ˈregyələr; ˈreg(ə)lər|adjective (of a person): doing the same thing or going to the same place with the same time between individual instances.

All I know is that my trip to the donut shop this past Sunday morning (to celebrate donut month) became a significantly richer experience because of two “colorful characters” bantering with the the lady behind the counter as well as my son and I. While the experience emphasized my own lack of ‘regularness’ (being newly transplanted to Nampa, Idaho), it also illustrated the critical need American society has for such irregular regulars.

Stemming from my high school addiction to late-night reruns of Cheers (“Where everybody knows your name”), I’ve always longed for regular status (even while I ‘raged against the machine’). Not necessarily a Cliff or Norm, but someone who could simply nod to the establishment for a quick cup or bowl of ‘the regular.’ Who hasn’t craved such status? (only asocial loners, I assure you.)

Now more than ever, we need to establish a culture of regulars and the sorts of places that tend to their irregularities, for two main reasons:

First, the USA has lost a healthy sense of what it means to be an individual. Individualism shouldn’t mean the right for everyone to fly the finger in the face of tradition, institution, etc. It should mean the responsibility to cherish and uphold the value of the individual, on an individual by individual basis rather than as a vague ideological concept.

After three decades of unabated expansion, the box store mentality of consumerism has gratefully reached its limit. While it’s wonderful to benefit from a place that can generally provide something approximate to roughly everyone most of the time, it is also beautiful to find a place that nurses your inner-individual.

By breaking out of the box and appealing to human irregularities, an establishment alienates some potential customers while it connects with others, thus developing a faithful class of regulars with a place to discover a healthy individuality in all its quirky grandeur.

Second, when a screw starts to strip, only a specific bit will fit. The one-size-fits-all mentality has so permeated this country that even drill bits have evolved into a graceless tool depending more on torque than form and fit. I’m not sure when it happened, but my tool box now contains only two sizes of phillip’s head bits. Between the two sizes, I can bully any screw granted I’ve enough drill. But the stupid bits never truly fit a single screw. They appear to be bastardized bits appropriate for all, but specific to none.

Fine and dandy until you come up against some screw that some nut fired off with a pneumatic drill, reducing the phillip’s head to a gutted memory of its original shape. For times like that you need a bit that’s a perfect fit. For our society, this time is one of those times. Gutted, stripped, over-torqued, getting out of this mess will require the perfect bit with the perfect fit. While Starbucks can give me a hot, cup of Tazo tea, The Flying M Coffee Garage can provide me a sense of my individuality, and a place to be a regular in all my irregularity. And which do I really need more?[divider]

Just to speed the process up, I think I’ll wear a sombrero around town.

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