How do you tell a true dive?
A true dive doesn't waste a dime on upkeep or decor. A true dive opens early. A true dive has an arcane juke box repertoire. A true dive doesn't go around trolling for new customers; it's content to soak the same aging boozehounds day after day.
If such are the criteria for a true dive, than Timboo's is a true dive. The storefront on Fifth Avenue in the South Slope has always looked promising to me: the mirrored black glass facade with the faded white lettering, and the badly drawn Martini glasses; the glass bricks; the sun-bleached awning; the very name itself—Timboo's. What kind of name is that?
I grabbed a Sam Adams there the other day. The aged customers clung close to the bar. They were mostly men, but women were represented. All were in a sodden state, some looking rather mournfully out the window as the passing parade, other boisterously telling stories to whomever who listen. Among the younger barflies buzzcuts were the rule. If Park Slope used to be a rough neighborhood, as they say, this crowd proved the case.
If I had to name one thing that defines Timboo's, I would say human body odor. It knocks you down when you walk in. Years and years of soaked-in sweat, in the wood, in the stools, in the walls. I doubt any of the regulars of staff notice. It's like cat owners who are oblivious to the fact that their homes reek of kitty litter.
The juke box played Irish ballads and Dexy's Midnight Runners while I was there. Timboo's is big. There a roomy pool area in the back, with a sloping roof above it. On one side of the table is a picture and memorabilia collage devoted to Elvis. On the other wall, is an equally big collage of Beatles junk. A old gun is mounted on the wall next to a plaque identifying it as the gun that won the west. There are the remnants of what looks like a kitchen in the back; many of these ancient bars used to serve food.
Timboo's has been on this corner since 1969. I think the people inside have been there just as long.