In 2015, Kay and I moved to CantaMia in the Estrella Mountains near Goodyear, Arizona. It’s a 55-plus, gated community, with a resort atmosphere and inhabited by active people playing golf, tennis, pickleball, bocci ball; and keeping fit in the gym, practicing yoga, and lap swimming. During the afternoon and evenings there is a definite party atmosphere. In other words, it fits my particular lifestyle. |
With that in mind, one of the ladies recently celebrated a milestone birthday so to commemorate the occasion, 30 (or so) of us decided one Friday afternoon to travel down-the-hill to a venue outside our own village center. Why? Well, we wanted someplace different where we could be a bit rowdier, and be in the midst of other folks with a similar mindset. We descended upon American Legion Post No. 61 in Goodyear. Mainly, we heard they had a good fish fry.
Reality occurred as we stepped through the door. The pungent odor of burning tobacco leaves—I mention tobacco so you don’t think it was those funny smelling cigarettes—whacked me right in the face. Whew! Cough, choke, hack, rattle, wheeze! Now I grew up in homes, theaters, bowling alleys, restaurants, and bars where practically everyone lit up. Hell, I even joined them for four years. The workplace—offices, conference rooms, and cafeterias—were well-supplied with cigarette machines and overflowing ash trays. The chambers were filled with smoke. One could see layers of fumes settling lazily in the air. Basically, everyone (well, almost) set fire to tobacco products. Christmas was celebrated by providing gifts like cigarette lighters, expensive ash trays, and festive cartons of one’s favorite brand. (The Pause That Refreshes; L/S/M/F/T; Pall Mall: Famous Cigarettes, and They Are Mild.) Television commercials feature a dancing pack of Old Gold, and the testosterone-laden Marlboro Man. A bellhop called for Philip Morris, and Willy the Penguin reminded us to smoke Kool.
With that in mind, you’d think I’d have no trouble adapting to the environment in Post No. 61. I guess too much time had passed. The smell hurt my nostrils and made me gag. I made a note to disrobe in the laundry room when I got home; and hit the shower to get the stench out of my hair and off my skin. However, deciding to make the best of the celebratory situation, I bellied up to the bar and ordered a beer. A rotund, female bartender—resembling a short refrigerator with a head—with a tag that read “Cat” set a cold one in front of me. Cat referred to everyone at the crowded bar as, “Hon”. The beer was refreshing, and for the moment all was well.
Then a vacuous, short lady on an adjoining barstool ruined my temporary serenity. “Hey, hey…” she slurred. “Men are terrible. Do you know that?” The statement was accompanied by halitosis.
Oh no. Stuck next to a man-hating barfly. I decided to ignore her, but she poked me roughly on the arm.
“Hey, I’m talkin’ to you. Look at me. Don’t men ever make eye contact?”
Maybe I could get her to tell me to move. “We would if boobs had eyes.” That should do it.
“Huh? Wha…” My crack didn’t even phase her. She pressed on with an inane question. “Do you put salt in your beer?” she slurred. Her vacant gaze and challenging tone implied that an answer was demanded.
Being a barbarian, I drink straight from the bottle. No sissy glass for me, nosireebob. “Uh, no. It’d be tough getting it through the opening.”
“Well, I don’t put salt in beer either.” Meaningful up close look. “I don’t understand why anyone would put salt in beer.” My nose was assaulted by another wave of eau d’ manure. Smelled like she ate a septic log sandwich.
“Um, okay…uh, me neither” The atmosphere, smoke and putrid breath, was less painful that the lady’s inane babble. I looked for an escape route.
She pointed to a barrel-shaped guy next to her. “My husband doesn’t put salt in his beer.” She looked at me like maybe I should defend the practice so she could argue the fact. I slunk away while making some kind of comment that I had to use the restroom. When is the last time you went to the men’s room for a "breath of fresh air" that included bowel movements past? She didn’t comment that I took my beer.
As a last shot she said, “Hey, haven’t I seen you someplace before?”
I said, “Yeah, that’s why I don’t go there anymore.”
Away from the large U-shaped bar, I took a seat at a tall table. Both tall and low tables were full of local imbibers there mainly for the fish fry, and entertainment in the form of karaoke. A good sized dance floor was near the DJ, a cigarette puffing, slim dude well into his fifties trying to look like a teenager from the 1950s. He took the mic and started off the festivities by belting out a Trace Atkins song. That was a hint that country music would be the theme of the beered-up vocalists. If there is anything worse than sitting in a smoky room, it’s sitting in a smoky room listening to so-called NEW country. My opinion is that the genre suffers from low self-esteem and morphs more into a lousy, half-baked imitation of rock in an attempt to be accepted as “cool”. It doesn’t work.
The dozen or so other male and female vocalists were, well, typical karaoke singers; that is, pitchy, flat, and enthusiastic. Alcohol-fueled applause kept them going. One stood out in particular. He resembled a Lilliputian, greasy, unkempt Charles Manson (which is like saying an athletic Stephen Hawking) sporting bibbed overalls. One of the ladies in our crowd called him Chuckie, combining Manson with the evil little doll of film fame. Nice touch, eh?
Chuckie was delighted to see some of our ladies, especially when some of them took to the dance floor. When not singing, he jumped right in with them exhibiting uncommon energy. I figured he’d circle the date on his calendar that night as a “great day”. He’d be singing and dancing in his sleep; probably need to take Viagra to keep from rolling out of bed.
Later, when I stepped into the parking lot of Post No. 61, I could almost see noxious fumes rise from my body, and foul the environment. We drove home with the windows down, and as planned, undressed in the laundry room, and hit the shower. All in all, it was a fun night, but I doubt I’ll ever return to Post No. 61. I mean, I can’t be expected to suffer cigarette smoke AND lousy country karaoke.
By Gene Myers, your working boy. >
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birthday, American Legion Post No. 61, tobacco, cigarette smoke, barfly, country music, karaoke,