By Pegi Taylor   Published May 30, 2005 at 5:10 AM

{image1}I contend that people in Wisconsin are different than people elsewhere. My favorite quote in this regard comes from a Wisconsin man who went to extraordinary lengths to save some sculptures from destruction. I asked him if he could pinpoint the impulse that drove him to take on what became a humongous quest. He replied, "If Jesus had come from Wisconsin, he would have nailed himself up on the cross."

This is why I am, once again, asking people in Milwaukee and the state for advice. I believe you have the "just do it" wherewithal to help me. And I have thick skin. You can let me have it.

My quandary today has to do with a Wisconsin behavior that I just don't understand. Wisconsin has a high number of bars per capita, and this is certainly true in Milwaukee. Milwaukee boasts of having one bar for every 1600 people, or second highest in the nation. (St. Louis, apparently, is the only city with more bars per person.) What is the point of bars? I'm hoping you OMC readers can help me figure this out.

Most bars are so loud that you can't hear what other people are saying, so I don't see how they are congenial for having a conversation. Some people go to bars to hear music, but with all the noise it's distracting. And forget dancing. Most bars don't have dance floors big enough to do anything more than wiggle your hips.

And why are bars so dark? You can barely see. Whether you smoke or not, you reek after half an hour in a bar. When you get home you need to take a shower and wash everything you wore to remove the stink of cigarettes.

I know I'm missing something, but what is it? Yeah, yeah, there's drinking. But you don't have to drink in a bar. I can't believe the attraction is to buy expensive booze in a social atmosphere to create the impression that you are connected with other people.

In contrast, coffee houses make perfect sense to me, even though I don't drink coffee. You get together with people on neutral turf where you can gab to your heart's content without spending as much money as you would at a restaurant-and such convenience. You can meet morning, noon, or night.

Gotta second? What's with Milwaukee and bars? Can you show me how to find pleasure in the bar groove?