Shenanigans is the best word ever. And it's not just because I enjoy long, multisyllabic words that can be stretched into double-entendres or repeated incessantly in a fake Irish accent. Shenanigans and I go way back. As a kid, I was a temperamental tomboy who created shenanigans with a high-powered squirt gun. Unsuspecting neighborhood kids, and their parents, were not amused. By high school, my buddies were using the word shenanigans to suggest everything from sexual activity to late-night trips to IHOP. Though I have to admit, with my friends, it was usually used in reference to midnight pancakes. And I loved the movie Super Troopers only for the line "I'm going to pistol-whip the next guy who says shenanigans."
So, when I accidentally stumbled across Shenanigans Sports Pub, I couldn't help but want to burst through the door and blast everyone in the face with a squirt gun the size of a pit bull. But that's not acceptable in the adult world, so I decided to pop in, have a few drinks, and wait for the wholesome pranks and general mischief to ensue.
Ambiance: I passed the outside seating area and wandered in the front door. Sports flashed from the walls, each TV mounted just a few feet from the next. The décor consisted of framed sports jerseys, boxing gloves, hockey sticks, guitars, and an assortment of oddly beautiful fish paintings. Leftover decorations from Halloween — little dangling plastic skeletons and orange fairy lights — framed the lowered ceiling above the bar. Mounted directly onto that ceiling were back-lit art pieces that illuminated the bottles of liquor and glasses below. One featured two blond mermaids, while the others depicted schools of fish. Mid-'90s music rose over the buzz of sportscaster babble, and most patrons focused on either imbibing or absorbing every play of Saturday's college football games. Since one end of the bar doesn't meet the other, I scuffled up along the left side and, unable to find an empty spot, clumsily had to circle back. So far, the only shenanigans were my own awkwardness.
Drinks: I discovered a spot and slid out the heavy chair before anyone could object. I flashed my I.D. at Karolina, the pretty brunet bartender. After she'd yanked the top off a Bud Light and slid it my way, I tried to pump her for info. "I'm only here because I love the word shenanigans," I said. "What can you tell me about this place?"
"Well, the bar is open until 4 a.m., which is later than most bars in the area," she said mechanically. "Also, we serve food until 3:30 a.m." Admittedly, I do often find myself drunkenly staring into an empty fridge around that time.
"But what about the shenanigans?" I whined. "Doesn't crazy stuff happen here?"
"Well, we had Mary Carey in here the other night," she said. "Dennis Rodman too, not long ago."
"What were they doing here?" I asked. Perhaps shenanigans ensued?
"Just hanging out," Karolina said coyly, and walked away.
I turned to the guy next to me. Jon was thin and brown-eyed, and he wore a black sweatshirt. He was also a dude of few words — guess he needed a few more drinks' coaxing before he'd talk to a shifty nightlife columnist, let alone dance on the bar.
"I've been coming here ten years," he told me evenly. Jon said it was the best bar around. "Although I hear the Century Village has some good bars." He gave a thin-lipped smile at his joke, then turned his attention back to the captivating college football game.
Bartender: "Hey — haven't seen you around here in a while," said Matt, a gregarious, bearded bartender who was keeping busy talking football with Jon's friends and eating French fries off finished patrons' plates.
"I've never been here before," I said, rolling my eyes.
"Yes, you have, just not recently."
This argument continued until I finally told him I was a nightlife columnist, originally from Texas, and swore on my shriveled liver that I'd never seen Shenanigans' generic sports décor before in my life. He tried to enlist Jon for help, and after a little contemplation, it was decided that I resemble a girl who used to work with Jon. Good to know I have clones out there; one of these days, I might be looking for a complete stranger to blame some dastardly shenanigans on.
Shots: Matt introduced me to J.C., Sandra, and Jessica. J.C., which stands for Juan Carlos, was stocky and dark-haired. Jessica was well-dressed and blond; Sandra was dark-complexioned and wore perfect eye makeup.
"Want a banana-flavored Now-and-Later?" asked Jessica. I hesitated, trying to remember some vague childhood lesson about strangers and candy. "They're from the bar," she added, placing one in my hand.
I popped it in my mouth and chewed for a second.
"Does anything... exciting happen here?" I asked.
"Sometimes, late at night, people get drunk and crazy and titties pop out," J.C. offered.
"How long do you have to wait for that?" I asked.
"Could happen at any time," J.C. said.
A few minutes later, J.C., Sandra, Jessica, and I were toasting to "Tara from Texas" (it was Matt's idea) and gulping down pink-colored shots from glass cups.
"What the hell was that?" I asked.
"That shot's called a Pearl Harbor," J.C. said. "It's Matt's creation. So named because after six or seven of them, they sneak up on you like the Japanese snuck up on Pearl Harbor."
With the potent burst of alcohol seeping into my bloodstream, I couldn't be sure if that was offensive.
"Well, you have another six of those, and all of a sudden, titties will be popping out," J.C. said.
Sounds like sorcery to me.
"Hey, Matt, can she get another shot?" J.C. said, slapping the surface of the bar.
"Hell no," I said, scaring Matt off with an evil eye.
Customers: Jon's friends, Chris and Christian, were both ten times more raucous (and by raucous, I mean drunk) than Jon. Chris, who had brown hair and a short, compact build, pointed at me suddenly.
"Are you writing in a journal?" he shouted. He seemed visibly excited to learn I was writing a column. As he considered how he'd like to be quoted, his eyes got little-boy bright. Though, in retrospect, it coulda just been the booze.
"Tell me something crazy about Shenanigans," I demanded.
"I've nailed three chicks on this bar right here," he said, pounding the bar with his hand.
"Liar!" I said. "I refuse to print that as fact."
Clearly, Chris had sex on his mind, because a few minutes later, he stood up.
"I'm leaving," he announced.
"Oh, come on, what's more fun than hanging out here?" I asked.
"Going home to fuck my wife," he said.
"Give her a little for me," said Christian, who was burly and bald.
"Next time, just tell us you're taking your wife to dinner or something," I said. "We don't need the dirty details."
"But that would be a lie," Chris said, smirking. "And you don't print lies."
Dessert: Matt recommended the apple cobbler, but I told him I didn't need the extra calories. I'd just polished off a plate of deep-fried mozzarella and was feeling calories taking up permanent residency in my thighs. So he suggested that we split a piece. Now, I don't make a habit of swapping saliva with bartenders. But Matt was friendly and said charming things like "we're all family here," so I gave him a shaky "OK." After one bite of the warm, sweet dessert, I decided it was probably the best decision I'd made all evening. As Matt ran back and forth between patrons, he'd sporadically swoop in like a vulture and tear up a chunk of cobbler.
After indulging in half the dessert, my buzz had about worn off, and that meant it was time to go. Sure, I didn't witness any major shenanigans — unless you count some cheeky conversations and mistaken identities — but it was good food, good fun, and tasty politically incorrect shots. So unless there's a neighborhood dive called Tomfoolery or High Jinks, I'll just have to be satisfied with delicious apple cobbler and minimal mischief.