Who says you have to wait until the sun goes down to have a good time?
In last week's Day Drinker at The Snap Lounge, we felt like spaceships traveling through a magnetic field of man-mines. In this week's thrilling conclusion, the man-mines turn up the heat, and force us to make a tactical decision.
We like Brett the bartender right away. A tall man with salt-and-pepper hair (and a mustache to match) and wearing a leather jacket, Brett sticks his hand out and introduces himself. He tells us about the crazy Super Bowl party the night before. The Snap was packed, he says, and they gave away over 200 steak dinners and raffled off lots of prizes. Working the day shift at the Snap for almost five years, Brett likes his job and likes the people. He says he's not much of a drinker because, at his age, a wild night takes too long to recover from.
"Can I use the bathroom?" I ask the man in the sleeveless George Strait T-shirt.
He gives me a royal bow. "I cleaned it . . . for you."
When I return, the fluorescent lights have, thankfully, been turned off (apparently, Stan had told Brett we preferred it that way). Tana is talking to Stan at the bar, writing something on a napkin.
"Now, Stan, if I give you my e-mail address, don't send me any porn."
Stan, taken aback, appears genuinely hurt. "What kind of guy do you think I am?" He peers closely at the napkin and asks, "What's this 'a' in a circle mean?"
As Tana explains the basics of email addresses to Stan (who had just gotten a computer a couple of months ago), Lance talks to me about being a firefighter on the Navajo reservation and how his grandfather, who was a Windtalker in World War II, had taught him some of his secrets. It would have been a great conversation until Charlie showed up, throwing open the Snap's doors open as it were an Old West saloon -- yellow sports shirt a-blazin', black cap askew on his head, dark mustache running down both sides of his mouth.
"Ho, ho, h-o-o-o!" he yells out, giving us the once-over and nodding his head. "You girls aren't leaving are you?"
"At what point were you sexually active?" Stan, who had turned away from Tana and was now talking to me, says. When I tell him I'm not going to answer his question, he says, "You smell nice, you know. Hey, how do you work your camera?"
After a failed picture-taking lesson with Stan, Tana gives the signal for a much-needed smoke break. Everyone follows us: Stan the Man from Michigan, Jack Daniels, Lance, and, now, Charlie. Four man-mines.
Outside, a woman who had been at the Super Bowl party the night before, tells us about the raffle prize she'd won: A "tequila rose" tank-top.
"I was pissed," she says, "'cause I didn't get the matching baseball cap. But then some guy later in the night gave it to me, and I was like, woo-hoo!"
"You know, you can get a hooker on Camelback for $30."
"Shut up, Jack Daniels, them girls don't want to hear that," Drunk Bob says.
Desperate times call for desperate measures. And by this time, no one seems to care that Tana and I are wearing wedding rings and clearly not romantically interested in present company. So when Charlie asks Tana whether we are "together," Tana does what any woman would have done in our place: She says, "We are."
"That's cool, that's cool," Charlie says, stroking his mustache and nodding his head again. "I just wanted to get that out into the open. I'm cool with it, though. Just don't want to get my ass kicked. You girls like men at all?"
We go back inside the bar. The man-mines - all of them -- follow.
We try to enjoy our last beers and soak in the surroundings. Not easy, given the attention we can't seem to avoid. We hear Lance talking about buying a bra for his daughter, Charlie talking about Carlos Santana, Jack Daniels mumbling about his other bike (the one with the motor on it that he can't ride because the cops will pull him over), and Stan describing how he kidnapped his daughter when she was 3 months old.
Wait. What? Why?
"Her mama didn't take good care of her, so I kidnapped her when she was 3 months old. Had her until she was 5. Then her mama kidnapped her back from me and raised her until she left the house. I haven't seen her since she was 17 years old. I would love to know how she is and what she's doing, but it's hopeless," Stan says, voice filling with emotion.
It's not hopeless, we tell him. Now that he has a computer, he can find almost anyone on the Internet. His eyes well up with tears and he gives us each a big hug.
We go back outside. The man-mines follow us: Stan, Jack Daniels, Lance, and Charlie. Drunk Bob is waiting outside. Five man-mines. It's getting to be a bit much.
"You guys watch Judge Judy?" Drunk Bob asks. "She'll tell you: You buy a ring for a woman, that's a fuckin' contract right there."
Drunk Bob looks like Howard Hesseman. He's dressed head-to-toe in denim and claims to have seen Carlos Santana perform in Phoenix for free when they were shooting The Main Event, starring Barbra Streisand and Ryan O'Neal, in the 1970s.
"Hey, everyone!" shouts Charlie. "Let's go back inside and have some drinks. Ladies, I've got a couple of cold ones waiting on you." He laughs, and the five man-mines make their way through the door, reversing the magnetic field and hoping the mothership will follow.
But the mothership lingers. "We can't go back in there," Tana says.
"I know. It's too much, even for the two of us."
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"You call it. I mean, I'll do it, but if we go back in, who knows what's going to happen."
"Run. Run to the car."
Purses flying, we jump into the car, Thelma-and-Louise-style, and get the hell out of there.
"If Stan figures out how to e-mail me," Tana says, laughing, "I'm so forwarding it your way."