While trapped on the roof of his bar waiting for the Bengals to win a dang football game, Jeff Lanham learned a lot about modern survival skills.
For example, when you’re spending nights out in the freezing Indiana fall, you can’t crawl into your sleeping bag with the same clothes you’ve been wearing all day (the bag will reverberate the chill and lock you into a low-grade refrigerator at night—it’s boxers or nothing). Also, when you’re living on top of a bar and people find out about it, you’re going to get buckets of Miller Lite sent upstairs at all hours of the morning, so don’t turn down the exercise bike your friend offered to install for you because you might gain a little weight.
Another thing: If your wife promises, live on the news, that you’re not going to come down from the roof until the Bengals break what is then a four-game losing streak to start the season, there’s a good chance television stations from all over the town, state, tri-state area and the nation are going to start showing up at 4 a.m. to make sure you’re actually holding up your end of the bargain. As precious as sleep is up there, REM sleep gets broken by the sound of clicking tripods and news anchor jargon.
“Other than not getting rest and storms and stuff, I partied a lot,” Jeff says. “I drank a lot of beer up there.”
Two years ago, Lanham had his brush with celebrity. He spent 57 straight nights on the roof of his restaurant, the Hog Rock Cafe, between Cincinnati’s loss on Oct. 6 to the Cardinals and their win over the Jets on Dec. 1. It was an homage to Wildman Walker, a Cincinnati-area disk jockey who slept in a billboard for 61 straight days until the Bengals won a game back in 1991. Lanham’s quest began as an innocent (and slightly alcohol-fueled) utterance during one of his televised tailgate parties. Frustrated by Arizona kicker Zane Gonzalez’s last-second field goal sailing through the uprights, dropping the Bengals to 0–5, he said he was headed upstairs until Zac Taylor & Co. could turn it around. Then it got repeated on television. That’s when Lanham, a former iron worker who opened a restaurant with five-pound …….