Some teenaged girls develop obsessions with hot celebrities like Johnny Depp or Justin Timberlake. Some go gaga over the blue-eyed high school quarterback. Some fall for their older brother's sexy best friend — the one with the washboard abs and broad shoulders. Yeah, I'm a sucker for blue eyes and broad shoulders, but I was busy during my teen years developing a lasting love affair with a different kind of fox — the four-legged, furry kind. I've read everything there is to read about every fox from the desert-dwelling Fennec to the common red. I have an extensive collection of fox paraphernalia, ranging from plush foxes to plastic foxes. Over the years, I've collected fox statuettes and fox-shaped boxes and fox posters and even a blanket with the picture of a fox printed on it. Hey, infatuations are normal for teenaged girls, right?
Since then, my obsession has subsided somewhat, but I still love me some foxes. So I was giddy to discover that my two favorite things — foxes and alcohol — are a winning combination at the Fox & Hound, a British-style pub in Oakland Park (4812 Dixie Hwy.). And I'd heard that a Friday-night trip there would mean a night of drinking with some particularly charming foxes, once I could get past the fact that they'd been dead for awhile.
Ambience: The bar sits smack-dab in the middle of the joint and divides the area into two rooms — a drinking part with high tables and burgundy walls on the right, a game part with dartboards and a pool table on the left. The place is low-lit, with dark rugs, mirrors adorning the walls, and leafy fake plants hanging over the bar. I chose a table near a small painting depicting a British fox hunt — a red-clad gentleman atop a steed with hounds running alongside him. The atmosphere was upbeat — rock music blared from a jukebox (I heard everything from the Rolling Stones to Eminem), the lively red-headed bartender bobbed back and forth, and patrons methodically ordered beer after British beer while ignoring the stuffed foxes watching them with beady glass eyes.
Foxes: The two red foxes, long trussed-up and sent to a taxidermist, were carefully positioned in big glass cases and bolted to the wall of the pub. One of the foxes was posed as if he were eating a hen — she was trapped under his paws, and he had a chunk of her flesh dangling from his mouth. The other stood with his head turned and ears erect, as if he were observing everything that went on in the bar. Both of them were surrounded by plasticized foliage, and the background of their boxes had been painted sky blue — kind of reminiscent of the diorama projects I did in elementary school. Yeah, I think fox hunting is disgusting, but I was fascinated. "Ohhh, they are so cute," I squealed to one of my companions. He looked up at the fox closest to us — the ruddy-furred devil poised to disembowel a chicken — and shrugged. "They're also dead."
I made a beeline for the foxes at the bar — specifically, a bachelorette party of miniskirt-clad young women. Two girls shared a drink. The slim blond, Alexis, wore a leather skirt. The brunet bride, Jessica, wore a black outfit and a headband with a pink plastic penis that was positioned as if it were penetrating in one side of her head and out the other.
"Talk about getting head," I said, gesturing at her headgear. "When's your wedding?"
"Next week," said the bride, taking a sip from her drink through a penis-shaped straw. She paused and scratched the testicles of her headband's fake dick. "Sorry, my balls are itchy." She and Alexis erupted in a fit of giggles.
"What else is on the agenda tonight?" I asked.
"LaBare's," Jessica said. "But first, I gotta get drunk before I make an idiot of myself."
"My seat is wet," Alexis complained, eyeing the rubber schlong. "Did your penis get a little too excited?"
Bartender: Deciding I needed to find out more about the foxes that didn't make bad dick jokes, I marched on over to the bartender, Trixie. One of her adoring customers informed me that she is a natural redhead, has grandchildren, and her boobs look amazing in a corset. But I wasn't interested in seeing baby pictures or breasts at that moment.
"Tell me about those guys," I said, pointing to the foxes. They continued to cast unblinking stares upon the plethora of patrons below.
"They've been shipped over from Britain," she said. "They're worth four or five thousand each."
"Wow," I said. I suddenly glimpsed a fox's head, mounted on a wall at the far right corner of the bar. I hate mounted animal heads, but this one, wearing a Guinness hat, was strangely cute. "What about that one?"
"Oh, that poor guy," she said. "On Saint Patrick's Day, we put that hat on him, and he ended up somehow losing an ear. So now he wears the hat permanently."
"So, I love foxes," I said. "Isn't anyone else horrified to see their remains on display?"
"Well, yeah," Trixie said. "On take-your-daughter-to-work day, I brought my daughter here, and she was a little bothered by them. She kept saying, 'Mom, they look like our dog.' "
Drinks: One word: Newcastle. Trixie also kindly offered to make me her trademark special shot concoction, but I'd already heard it contained several kinds of potent alcohol, and I wasn't ready to pass out quite yet.
Customers: The pub was busy all night, and, for an unpretentious den adorned by deceased adorable furry animals, it drew a fun, eclectic crowd. A girl in a long hippie skirt sat alone, occasionally joining in the conversation of a couple — a blond with a back tattoo and her bespectacled boyfriend — who had brought their own pool cues.
While the two guys I came with debated whether a guy who'd just walked in was wearing a woman's shirt, I ditched them to talk to Andy, a guy nearby who kept laughing raucously. Andy wore a baseball cap and a faded T-shirt and had a scruffy reddish beard. He was engaged in conversation with James — a big, dark-haired fellow with a goatee.
"How's life, guys?" I asked.
"Could be better," Andy said. "I've been through two divorces and haven't gotten laid in eight months."
"He's taken up pool since then," James interjected. "He's had to get good with one stick and forget about the other."
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I rolled my eyes and motioned in the direction of the bachelorette party — they would've loved James' bad penis jokes. "Lot of girls here tonight."
"I'm looking for a girl to settle down and have kids with," James said. "Bars aren't great for that."
"Yeah," Andy said. "My ex-wives were gold-diggers, just out for money. Anyway, how you doin'?"
Anyway. So the Fox & Hound was indeed all it was cracked up to be — two beautiful defunct red foxes, one beautiful bartending redheaded fox, great beer, and good fun. But after I'd drained my last Newcastle and witnessed a few rounds of pool, I realized that this was probably the closest I'd come to being face-to-face with my favorite animal and several-year obsession. Though kind of a macabre meeting, I decided I'd definitely come back to visit them — and maybe next time, I'd even buy them a round.