I sat there in silence at the bar inside Nippers in Boca, trying not to concentrate on what was about to be a disastrous — but supersexy — wardrobe malfunction. In front of me, bartender Sabrina ferociously shook up a drink, her breasts bouncing jauntily as they fruitlessly tried to escape the low-cut sweater under which they were partially confined.
The threat of a nip slip at Nippers soon passed, and it was shortly after that when I realized that this is the kind of place I could fall head-over-fucking-heels for.
I'm not the kind of girl to get mushy and emotional, but on a recent Friday night, I discovered kickass happy hour prices, awesome bartenders, and plenty of sweet, delicious booze. Even though its diverse clientele had no problem extolling its virtues, I wasn't a believer until I sat with a Nippers patron who had trouble parting with his barstool — even for a hot date with a broad of the lustful sort.
Ambiance: Due to Nippers' proximity to FAU, I expected to find it packed with a rowdy college crowd. Instead, the place was packed with a quieter crowd of the silver-haired variety. Well, it is smack-dab in the midst of Q-tip central, or Boca Raton, so I decided not to complain and hopped up to the bar. The place was clean and well-lit, lined with big windows and fluorescent beer signs, wood walls, and light tile. Pool tables and arcade games sat to the right of the bar; TVs and a big-screen for playing Wii games were positioned to the left. The speakers blasted everything from Johnny Cash to Metallica. The two bartenders, Sabrina, a broad-shouldered brunet; and Kim, a slender blond, bantered with patrons as they busily fixed drinks behind the long, zigzag-shaped bar.
Kim brought me a Bud and started my tab, but when she saw the flash of my notebook, she pulled the "I'm new" card and scurried off to summon Paul, the bar manager. Paul was slight with a well-trimmed beard, and he immediately suggested we take a shot together. He selected something red and sugary-sweet, and we toasted to my future success as a writer. I rolled my eyes and let the shot slide down. Bar managers and potential boyfriends beware: Lathering me up with booze and compliments will only make me even more cynical and frigid.
I asked him a few vague questions about Nippers.
"Nippers is a neighborhood bar with a pretty diverse clientele," he told me. "We get a lot of doctors, lawyers, teachers — educated folks."
"Oh, a smart bar," I said. "You don't run across too many of those. What would you say the average IQ here is?"
"Depends what time of day," Paul said.I pretended to check my watch. "Right now."
"I'd say well above average," he said.
"Yeah, because I'm here," I said. Who isn't charmed by unabashed self-glorification these days?
"That's exactly it," Paul smiled. "You want another shot?"
I won't say whether I was smart enough to say no.
Patrons: After Sabrina's vicious attack on an innocent shaker, I turned my attention to Woody, a white-haired gentleman, and George, a bespectacled lawyer. Woody informed us that he had a date to get to, but he stayed firmly planted in his spot at the bar.
"George and Woody — they're guys who always know how much their tab will be before they order," Paul said. "Hell, I know what their tab will be before they order. Woody, tell her how long you've been coming here."
"Twenty-three years," he said.
"I was barely out of the womb by then!" I blurted.
"Oops, I mean, like ten," he backtracked. "I used to work out at a nearby gym, and I saw this place through the window."
Who needs Gatorade when alcohol's your post-work out beverage of choice?
"I bet there have been some pretty nasty fights here," I said, trying to dig up some dirt.
"Nope," Woody said. "Unless you want to start one now."
"My biggest complaint is the inconsistent pouring," said George. "Tell the owner to do something about that."
The Date: "Well, I've got to go," Woody announced, finally standing up. "I have a date."
From behind the bar, Sabrina arched an eyebrow and made a whip-crack sound.
"Hope you get laid," I lifted my beer.
"That's just the thing. That's all she wants," Woody said. "But I'm not that kind of guy."
"Wow, a real-live Nice Guy," I said.
I didn't believe him. Nice Guys are mythical, like unicorns and Eskimos.
"I'm not a nice guy," said George. "Just ask my ex-wife."
"No one mistook you for one," I snapped.
"Well, nice guys always finish last." Woody turned to leave.
"See you in five minutes," snorted George. He turned to me. "That's how long his dates usually last."
A moment passed. Then Woody walked back, grabbed his jacket, and left again.
"Wow, he just can't stay away, eh?" I said.
George insisted I take another shot, but this time, no frilly sweet stuff.
"I can't swallow Jack Daniels straight," I told him.
"Sure you can. It will burn a little, but your next thought will be how much you love this bar."
We toasted, I gagged down the shot, and then chased it with my rapidly warming Bud.
Stories: Aiding in my continued search for dirt, George called over another regular to help come up with the bar's most interesting stories.
Matt was short, compact, and younger than most of the other patrons.
"Oh, one time I took a crazy girl home," Matt said. "But she peed in front of me, and that was the end of it."
"That's hot to some people," I said. I could name names, but I won't. "What else?"
"Oh, there's a guy named Pete who frequents the bars in this area," said George. "He rides his bike everywhere and claims to be a friend of Bill Parcells. He also says he has 200 lesbian profiles on some website.
"The other day was his birthday," he continued. "When he got here, he was all bloody and bruised. We asked him what happened, and he told us he'd been hit by a car."
"That's awful!" I said. "Then what?"
George shrugged: "Then he had a drink, I guess."
Bartender: George stole my wool cap, and Sabrina was there in a flash. A sharp look was all she needed to make George hand it back and mumble an apology. I'd always wanted my very own bartending Amazon guardian. I wondered if she'd been defending solo girls and serving up frothy mugs her entire life.
"I used to be a professional skier," she said. "Then I did the whole corporate thing, but then I realized what I really wanted to do was be a bartender. It's fun, and you meet tons of new people. Anyway, just call me over if you need anything."
I turned to George. "She's nice. I want to marry her."
"Don't," he said. "Way too much baggage."
I got a bottle of water from Sabrina to try to equalize that sudden burst of Jack Daniels, which was still somewhere between my mouth and chest. When I turned back around, Woody was taking off his coat again.
"The date's over?" I asked.
"By the time I got to the restaurant, she was already eating," he said. "I just left."
"You were late?" I asked.
"Only by a few minutes," he said.
"I'm no Miss Manners, but I don't think that's very good etiquette," I said. "She should have waited."
"Told you," said George with a smirk.
"Well, have another drink," I said.
Good beer and good buddies — Nippers doesn't boast much, but it doesn't really have to. No one here would rather be anywhere else in the world. And that's what I call true love.