Why Everybody at Cheers Really Knows Your Name

April 10, 2012 — We may not have invented time travel yet, but we do already suffer from some of the side effects. Let me illustrate. A few months back I cancelled cable. Not everybody’s, just mine. Ten years ago, that would mean my evenings would involve a lot of conversing with neighbors over back fences and pacing hallways bemoaning existence. Today, with Hulu, Amazon Prime, Netflix, and YouTube, I still have way too much TV to watch.

But what’s also changed in recent years is that I have my choice of whatever year of TV history I want to watch on any given night whenever I want. I can make meth with Bryan Cranston in the 2010s, help coach a midwestern college football team with Craig T. Nelson in the 1990s, or enjoy the resort life with Patrick McGoohan in the 1960s. It’s the classic time travel quandary.

I say all this because recently, my wife has pulled me back into Cheers. She's a woman of strange impulses. Also, she was too young to watch this bar-set sit com during its original run from 1982 to 1993. I, on the other hand, watched the latter half of its original run and caught the rest in syndication, but I was also in my home state of Maryland at the time. These days, I’m in downtown Boston just about every day, only a few blocks away from the Bull and Finch Pub, in fact, where all the exteriors were filmed. So now I’m watching the series with a bit of new resonance.

These days, 20 years after Cheers went off the air, the Bull and Finch has renamed itself after the fictional bar that it inspired and boasts a gift shop bigger than the bar itself. I posted about that site before, so this post isn’t about that. Nor is it a review of the show to see how it’s weathered the decades.

Instead, it’s a review of the show’s bathroom graffiti. Yes, the Internet needs this post on its servers.

In the first season, the men’s bathroom of Cheers was only shown once. During episode 9, Coach Returns to Action. In that episode, Coach has the hots (a rampant condition in the 1980s that they eventually cured) for a much younger girl but was having trouble getting up the courage to ask her out. It takes a bathroom meeting with Diane and Carla to finally motivate him.

I think that’s how the scene went, anyway. I was a bit distracted and, admittedly, mesmerized by what passed as graffiti in the men’s room of this 1980s prime time sit com bar.
Get into sports dummy
My biggest criticism of Boston. All the cool things they offer the world — history, MIT, MGH, etc.— and they mostly obsess about sports. I think these words are on the back of the Massachusetts quarter, in fact.

For a Good Time Call Diane Chambers 867-5309.
I find this graffiti extremely philosophical. It was one of the biggest questions we all pondered throughout the duration of the first half of the series, "Was Diane Chambers really that good of a time?" Also, she's apparently roommates with Jenny.

Show me the way to the next whiskey bar...don't ask why
and Day-O
Neither The Doors nor Harry Balafonte were Bostonites (although The Doors did put out a Live in Boston album), but I have to assume the latter lyric was only scribbled up there to piss off whoever wrote the former.

Super Jock and Hit That Man
Probably more generic sports or generic lyric references, but I'm really hoping the former is at least a reference to this.

Please Don't Take Towels Home.
I don't know if managerial graffiti is the best precedent to set at a professional establishment.

God Save the Kinks and Add It Up
Both of these phrases are Kinks references. Puzzling for the type of clientele that Cheers drew. Probably an even better case for a "Day-O" here, I think.

Don't stop and think, have another drink
Instructions: Push, Push.
Nothing much to say here. More Kinks lyrics and now operational graffiti. The jukebox at Cheers didn't even work, so the clientele took it out on the bathroom, I guess.

Static, Static, Static, Frank Irving, Frank Irving
Google was no help in enlightening me on this reference, and it will haunt me the rest of my born days.

It's Not Easy Being Good Looking
Without a doubt, a desperate cry for help from Sam Malone himself. Every time Norm and Cliff asked him for one of his conquest stories, every time he had to be on point when an attractive woman entered his bar, every time he looked at his monthly shampoo bill, he would run back here, stare at his mantra and silently sing Kinks songs to himself.

In conclusion, the biggest culture shock of the entire exercise is that once upon a time people carried around actual pens. Also, after just one season, I’ve developed a loathing for this guy in the opening credits: