Harbor Lights, Drunken Old Men, & Some Salsa

8 Sep

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The BFF, texted me at 10 A.M., demanding we kick off my week of vacation on Friday, by consuming extra strong cocktails in the company of drunken old men, directly after work.

…To catch you up: there’s this place on the waterfront called Harbor Lights, which has the reputation of levelling anyone within a two-drink maximum consumption…I don’t give a shit WHO you are.

…You could be the hairiest, Harley-riding, spike-pierce-tatted, four-hundred-pound-beer-gutter ever invented, and I promise that you will still crawl your ass out of those doors like you’ve never had a drink before, if you even TRY to go one over the limit.

…I mean, we are talking “professionals” here, people. With it’s chasing globe-light sign and retro interior, it is the notorious favorite haunt of the older crowd pensioners — who have all been drinking socially for three times your life span and can still hold their liquor better than the badest-ass badass.

Routinely, we pass this place while taking the Ruston walk for fresh air, and see the willow-like frames of it’s inhabitants passing in and out it’s doors, smelling like the Jack Daniel’s distillery, yet amazingly still totally functioning and upright. To date: neither one of us has ever actually ventured into it’s doors. We are pretty awesome drinkers, but we know it would break us in nothing flat and we secretly fear for our egos*. (* “I fear NOTHING!”, The BFF counters immediately as I read her this sentence, in review.)

…But tonight! That all changes, my friends!

…The goal here is to get comfortably plowed at minimum cost, without a ralphing hangover lasting halfway into tomorrow. If we can manage it, I will declare us the, “Righteous Dames of Perfected Excess.” If not, you might be looking at another in-depth study on my stomach contents as they float in a toilet.

We can only try.

As curious as I am to launch into said experiment at all, this comes with a double bonus in the types of character study, that even my brain couldn’t possibly make up. What glory of ultimate delight awaits us? It’s frankly too good to waste by not leaving an open-ended two-parter episode option, I think.

…For this reason, I leave you now, in order to complete the kind of investigative reporting that you fully deserve. If I had a book deal or research grant, I could totally write it all off as an expense, based on topical study. But since I don’t, I can’t. Instead, this entire enterprise will be privately funded by The BFF’s Fella, so its kind of a giant deal.

…So don’t bitch that we never made sacrifices or gave you anything. Me: by willingly exposing my stomach lining and The BFF: by dating a gentleman, The Fella: for bankrolling our exploits.

…At some point, we’ll need to establish a PayPal Kick-Starter account, just to continue to enthrall you with our various shenanigan-wonderments.

(Pause.)

…Dear God, that was a freakin brilliant idea. I am so glad I just wrote that down…

**End Act One**
**Act Two**

It is Happy Hour.

…Almost everything they make is five bucks, and at first sip we instantly realize the rumours have been true. I cough. The BFF grins. I make it through one and a half Mai Tais before my words start slurring as we take in the crowd.

We choose the bar instead of the restaurant…all of which is themed like something between a Captain’s ship and the cavern set for “The Goonies.” Everything is dated and falsely-preserved…including the bartender, upholstery, and dead, stuffed fish on the walls. It takes zero time at all to realize that all the septuagenarians in the room know each other…on account they call out one another’s name as new ones are added. This is what “Cheers” would have been like if it was still filming today.

…Only three people who don’t belong in the mix (besides us) are present: a youngish woman sitting by herself. A forty-ish man stirring a drink with his finger and staring morosely out the plastic tinted window toward the sea. And, the creepy dude at the bar who totally makes a point to turn, take in The BFF from head to toe and back to her boobs, before making his drink order.

“That just happened,” I say, as The BFF roles her eyes.

…It is shortly after this that The BFF’s Fella is added to the group. To make him feel properly welcomed, we yell his name upon sight, like everyone else in the bar sees fit to do. They smile and toast us in our efforts. He orders a “Peachy Drop.” It takes a “man” to just throw that kinda name out there, and still drink it with confidence.

The Fella is all over it.

…We finish our drinks and haul off home. It’s decided that “eating” should probably take place…and should probably have done so before these monster drinks. Free food takes precedence to sitting here all night, soaking up overheard conversations (and looks from Creepy Bar Guy.) And, since we are privately funded and can apply our non existent grants at our whim, we exit with about twelve kinds of alcohol swishing our insides, like three walking, toxic waterbeds.

**Intermission**

…A lot of food-making action thence takes place…and sweating, cuz the kitchen is one step hotter than hell…and eating, cuz we could medal in that. It is somewhere shortly after dinner, that The Fella suggests our next feat of wonder: going Salsa dancing.

Our guts: full of baked chicken, mashed potatoes and stuffing, all trying their best to beat down the alcohol into a functioning position, aren’t sure that they agreed with the plan. But DAMMIT, this is my VACATION, and I am the boss of the me! Plus, the idea has already come up about a dozen times before this, every time we collectively passed that studio on 6th Ave. Along with lessons, it has free open door social dancing on Fridays, and we keep meaning to go, but get too lazy to actually do it. Tonight, since we were already breaking precedence, we decide to break that one too.

**Act Three** (a bonus)

We divide to doll up, and digest our evening’s imbibings privately.

Then: Behold, only fifty minutes later, I’m being flung all over the studio by a variety of partners I have never met before. Though arriving with no partner, I never sit out a dance…even when I try to, (so I can bogart one of the fans and search for water.) Only about ten seconds into my plan, a dude materializes, holds out a hand, grins, and nods. This is the universal sign of “wanna dance?” when the music is set louder than the five industrial fans blowing sweat all over a studio ballroom. And because its fun as hell, of course I take them up on it. Every time. Which gets me everywhere from partnering with a barely pubescent boy, to a tiny, tiny Asian man who flings me around in super speeds…which I somehow manage to follow…thus looking like I not only actually know what I’m doing, but might even do it at competition levels.

“Oh my god! Did you see that?!” I demand of The BFF as I wobble back toward the fan she and The Fella are currently frequenting. “I had no idea where in the hell to spot or anything, and that turney-turney-turney-loop thing? What the hell was that?! It was masterful!”

“That dude has serious game! You actually looked like you knew what you were doing!”

“I know, right?!”

…And the screaming conversation ends, as another hand shoots out in front of me, and I’m off to the races again with what turns out to be the co-owner of the studio.

…We had quickly become favorites of the other one, earlier, on account of me jabbering about theatre. This was in hopes it would sidetrack her from noting my total lack of technique when it became my turn to be her partner, in the earlier mini class lesson (which we arrived at the ass-end of.) She got so excited about legit fellow performers in the room that she demanded I point out The BFF and The Fella too. (Which, come to think of it, is prob’ly the real reason I got so much instant man-dancing-meat out of the deal…but I totally don’t even care…cuz it was amazing-fun.)

“Who needs sex? I can just Salsa the rest of my life!”

This is my new slogan and theme I invent, as we wobble back to the car. Upon exiting, we promise to come back, and receive monster hugs despite all that sweat, for doing so.

“Do we know that woman who just hugged us?” The Fella asks, outside of the door.

“She owns the place. She thinks we’re rad cuz we actually dressed up. And do theatre, and she used to, and misses it. Also: she was a mad-skills ballroom dancing competitor, but had to quit cuz she got injured and sick.”

The Fella’s eyebrows raise in question.

“…Back when we first wanted to come here, I did a shit-ton of research on the studio and the owners.”

“Of course you did,” The BFF resounds. “Hey, lemme have the keys, I’m driving.”

“You okay to drive?” The Fella counters, just to make sure.

“Babe, I’ve been sober since about five minutes after we showed up there. All the alcohol got sweated out like an hour and a half ago.”

…And I realize this is actually true.

I also realize that maybe I wanna do this EVERY Friday night.

Possibly, for the rest of my life!

…But maybe, minus the stuffing.

~D

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