When we walked into the Rustic at 1:30 a.m., the place was empty and the floor was covered in cashed pull tabs -- shin-deep piles of a slow failure, bought for $1 a pop. The bartender and one customer were at the corner of the bar watching TV, the volume at living room level. A nature show, or maybe it was hockey. Chuck and I walked in first, and the others filed in one at a time.
"This," I thought, "is about to get really ugly."
I settled into a table to watch the show.
Whomp. Helicopter guitar. Subject No. 3 had pushed cash into the juke box and decided that right here (at the Rustic) at this time (1:30 a.m. Friday, Dec. 18, 2009) he needed to hear this song ("White Wedding," by Billy Idol). Tongue out, head back, eyes squinched, he was either playing air guitar against his belt or he was clawing at a rash. It was loud, the volume still set on party-mode from earlier, when there were more customers than just one, intent on learning more about the mating habits of the meerkat.
By the end of the night, nearly every reveler had face planted, a fact that was less of a bar floor construction problem and more operator error.
"Huh," I said to Chuck, as another bar stool clanked to the ground, execution style, "someone must have turned up the gravity in here."
Thursday night was the 37th Annual Birthday Rally in Spirit Valley, which holds a prominent position on the Advent calendar. It's the day that Chuck and Chuck's Fannie celebrate their birthdays. This year's event was held at a Grandma's in West Duluth -- the 37th birthday obviously being the one you celebrate at bar located between H&R Block and, I don't know, Baja Tanning, in a strip mall.
It was largely attended. Gifts were given, including a practice head from a cosmetology school. The head was shaved on the sides, longer on top, a had a pristine goatee. It looked like George Michael.
Jcrew affectionately referred to the night as a "shit show" in a conversation today. I'd say that is pretty accurate. And at the end of the night, one of the subjects kept growling "sloppy! sloppy! sloppy" before bear-hugging and tackling one of the guests of honor, reaching down the back of his pants, making pinching grabs that looked like an attempted snuggie.
I'm going to say it was the best one I've been to in four years. And that's saying a lot. One year Chuck's Fannie took a lighter and burned a pair of decorative goalie pads off the wall of the bar, and helped me strap them to Chuck's legs. That was a pretty good year, too.