So there it was, the subject that might unite an entire bar, everyone's guilty pleasure — reality TV. If only the Spaniards spoke English! A few other people piped in. Some women knew even more about the show than I did, and that is really saying something. Soon everyone was chattering about different things, the ice sufficiently broken by Ali the Bachelorette.

Imagine, if you will, the television camera panning back over the assembled throng, then pulling out of the front window and across the street. An amber glow is coming from Bing's as the sun is just about to set. We are nighthawks at the diner, and the bartender is Dick Cavett, patiently moving from person to person with the occasional aside and more drinks to keep the conversation moving. This is the little bar with the big personality. Try as it might to blend in and disappear among much grander places in North Beach, it cannot. Mr. Bing's is Marlon Brando. And, yes, gentle reader, it might actually be a contender.

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