Nightly injury: Collarbone
The Friday night after New Times' Beerfest was designated for me to meet up with the 21-year-old guy I had made out with in front of my coworkers. The hookup happened late-fest, when I was already blackout drunk from the vodka stand. So I wanted to figure out what the kid actually looked like — and there's nowhere better to be on a booze blind date than downtown Fort Lauderdale.
I'm already one vodka tonic into the night when I get his blah blah, staying-home rain-check text message. I'm at Briny Irish Club, a new bar on Himmarshee that has taken over half of Coyote Ugly. I'm there with two old schoolmates and my roommate. Inside, several Coyote Ugly tables remain and ornaments hang everywhere: surfboards on the ceiling, guitars along the left wall. But the only ornaments actually needed are on the right wall: top-shelf liquor.
I turn to bartender Jesse and ask about the music. "Why do you play cover bands on Friday?"
"Everybody plays cover bands on Friday," says Jesse.
"That answer's not good enough." I say. Now I'm expecting to hear mainstream radio hits like Harvey Danger's "Flagpole Sitta" — you know, the one that goes, "I'm paranoid, I'm paranoid... only stupid people are breeding."
After a "surfer on acid" shot, I'm now talking to Blair, a bartender from Detroit. He is horselike with his long limbs outlined in muscle, his eyes and hair a deep chestnut. The place has quite a few patrons, but most of them seem to be coupled off.
"But cover bands — how can I say this? — are so unoriginal," I tell Blair.
"People are idiots," he responds. "What does the best in bars is the cover band. Music is a universal language... if they can't connect to the music, they're going to walk right out of the bar."
I'm through the exit before Tommy Tutone's chorus "8-6-7-5-3-0-9" can repeat. I head over the railroad tracks, down the street to the Brick. The Brick's packed with well-groomed ladies and gents, and I maneuver along the industrial rectangular bar. I land in a spot where, each time I'm here, two guys are drooling a foot away from a bartender's ass. She stands on the bar, wearing tiny underwear shorts and a top that just covers the goods. I'm staring at guys staring at a bartender's ass. Wonderful.
"Do you guys really find this behavior appealing? I mean, just openly staring at her ass like that?"
The guy to the left, named Thomas, answers, "I was killing time waiting for my bar tab."
"That's reasonable," I say, "if this is a full-functioning bar when girls are on it." A male bartender places down Thomas' tab and then shuffles to the other side of the bar. Damn it, I'm drinkless and there are two asses (beautiful asses, but still) on the bar who can't help me get a drink.
"Listen," Thomas says as he turns to me, "we're wholesome Midwestern boys." He has sky-blue eyes — the type of sky that forces the sea down — and a boyish face. I'm already giving the preliminary questions.
"From where exactly?"
"Do you have this in Nebraska?" I point to the two women on the bar.
"No," he says.
I give an awed shake of the head. I'm such a jaded Fort Lauderdaleite. "How old are you?"
"Twenty-six," he says. Boyish features on a man about my age — score!
Any cynicism I previously had toward the Brick has been forgotten because of my boyish new friend. He says he photographs architecture. The Nebraskan hands me his business card on his way out.
Back at the bar, two more men ogle the bartender, who has been positioned to keep them from exiting. I slide through them to reach the patio, where my three male cohorts stand around drinking with more intoxicated younglings.
"I just picture her bent over," Dan says as he stares at the bartender. He has ice-blue Gatorade eyes and wears a long-sleeved, blue-collar buttoned-down with thin green and white stripes.
"Why?" I ask, realizing the guy in my party is the type I came here to ridicule.
"I always picture a girl naked based on her ass," he explains. "I can base if I want to fuck a woman on her body, her curves. If I find a woman attractive, the first thing I do is picture her doggy-style." Swoon me!
With company like this, my attention's back onto the Nebraskan. His business card is out of my back pocket, and I hold it damned close to my face to try to read it. The Nebraskan has chosen cursive-type font for his number, and I have chosen vodka. I text him, but he replies that he's already in Pompano, and this for me is unreasonable, for downtown's more conducive to stumbling to another bar.
At this point, I'm just drinking on the street outside of Crazy 8's Sports Lounge. There's a boxing game against the wall near its entrance, sitting there oddly out of nowhere, like the boy-to-man wish machine from Big. Some guy is teaching a lady the proper technique to get maximum points when he swings too far back. The back of his arm collides with my collarbone. The maneuver does not get him a high score.
"Why did you hit me?" I ask. "I am nowhere close to that thing."
"I was attracted to you," is Chris' response. He has squinty brown eyes and wears a snug, black, baseball cap/fedora hybrid. It's worn and fits his mousy face.
"So what did you do tonight?" I ask.
"Was at Voodoo."
"You don't think Crazy 8's is a drastic change of venue?"
"No," Chris says. "I am going from friends over there to friends over here."
"How do you feel about this place being completely empty?"
"It makes me sad," he answers. "But when I find beautiful women [he mimicked hitting me again], I try to nail them."
"Do you know how I feel about cover bands?" I ask, as I take a swig of my beer.