He’s Not Here

Graduate school (especially in chemistry) is a funny thing.  Everyone works hard, no one gets paid very much and there is this strange masochistic machismo revolving around working a lot of hours.  Its not terribly uncommon to put in 6 and a half day weeks, so that the total hours worked in a week approached 75-80.  Oof — boy, those were the days…

I got my degree in Chemistry from the University of North Carolina and the folks I was in there with were like that too, but there was one day when reactions weren’t bubbling, instruments weren’t pinging and scientific journals sat untouched in the library (yes, pre-internet, we actually WENT to the library…) and that day was was the first day of the ACC Basketball Tournament.

On the Friday that the tournament began, we would head down to He’s Not Here (found in the picture by the lone tree in the dirt yard), a bar located between Franklin and Rosemary Streets and start camping out around 10:30 in the morning.  The Citysearch summary of He’s Not Here is pretty much dead on:

He's Not Here is reminiscent of the back yard of a frat house, without the broken glass. A giant magnolia tree droops over one corner of the bar's outdoor courtyard. This place is best on a warm evening: The moon rises, the fireflies flash their mating signals and the co-eds come out in their shorts and flip-flops. It's enough to make you ignore the stale beer smell and cigarette butts.

The first tip-off was usually at noon, and the four games would be played in succession well into the evening.  It was college basketball nirvana – raucous bar filled with partisan Tar Heel fans, bar food and beer.  By the end of the day, you were tired, drunk and hoarse, but it was all worth it.  (Things are a little different now, the conference now has 12 teams and so there has been a “play-in” day on Thursday for the last several years, but when I was at UNC there were only 8 teams, so everything started Friday).  The tournament of course continued into Saturday and Sunday, but Friday was the real holiday.


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8 thoughts on “He’s Not Here

  1. Wow, it's cool you went to UNC. I live about 2.5 hours from there. Also, my brother is actually going to go to VA Tech in the fall to study Chemistry.

  2. He's Not Here is the best name for a bar EVER!
    Everyone works hard, no one gets paid very much and there is this strange masochistic machismo revolving around working a lot of hours.
    I remember this well from when Todd was in graduate school. Except he was at the University of Hawaii so, really, he was the only one working hard and everyone else was surfing :)

  3. I've been there! I think. Definitely not during the ACC tourney, and not even at night. I went up to Chapel Hill to interview a soccer player and she walked me around Franklin.
    I still remember (with great pain) the time I almost got to go to the famed Duke-Carolina basketball game. I was friends with the Duke soccer coach's daughter and she called with an extra ticket — except I was 2 hours away in Charlotte and she called 30 minutes before tip-off. I didn't speak to her for a week.

  4. Hannabanana —One of my prize possessions was one year we got He's Not Here to sponsor the Chem Grad Dept co-ed softball team that year (we won!). Extra bonus points to anyone that knows why my number was #20.
    Jen — excellent that you were there! I went there again in 2005 and was like "wow, I don't remember this place being such a dump!" — of course it WAS 104 degrees, and we were all dying from the heat, so that might have taken off a bit of the charm.

  5. No — but I'm impressed that you know where Calcium lies on the periodic table. And it IS true that beer is good for teeth and bones — I'm a scientist, I know these things, you can believe me.

  6. wow, i can't even imagine what it must have been like to go to school there.did your softball number have something to do with blood chemistry?

  7. Hahahahaha! — no, the number actually goes back to my Philly roots, and we must have been pretty serious, b/c we never had beer until after the game.
    UNC was a GREAT school for a graduate student and I think it'd be just as good as an undergraduate, too.

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