A few years ago, I had an experience that I have never forgotten: It started out like a normal outing, going to a bar to see a live band. I’m not sure why I didn’t associate the name of the bar ‘Generations’ with the demographic that it catered to but I didn’t.
We got to the bar around ten thirty and as we walked in I was smacked in the face with the familiar smells of smoke, booze and desperation. I didn’t know it then, but this desperation was in the late terminal stages. My eyes adjusted and I saw the typical black pleather bar stools and bowls of peanuts (that are contaminated with over 250 different specimens of urine. I heard Johnny Depp say it so it must be true.) Cracked pleather chairs and chrome were everywhere. I did a quick scan of my surroundings and realized that I was probably the youngest person there. And I was over thirty. Yikes.
Bars are the perfect petri dish for people watching. I looked at all the people interacting and realized that every one of them was at least in their late fifties and had really put some thought and care and preparation into their appearances. These people were there for a reason and with purpose. I imagined them all standing in front of their mirrors and primping and preening to get their hair to just the right feathery Farrah perfection. Yes, they were here on a mission and had prepared whereas I was sweaty from playing basketball in a hoodie and had not combed my hair in five months. This is not an abnormal look for me.
I looked over at the bar and saw a couple who had obviously just met so in my head, as I often do, I made up their conversation from across the room:
Her: So then, I took it back and they gave me the sale price! Can you believe it?
Him: No! I can’t! That’s awesome! So then what happened?
(She babbles on about silk shirts and his inner monologue takes over.)
Him: (in thought only, not out loud) Hmmmm….I’m getting lucky tonight…. Yeah, she wants me. Did I leave any dirty underwear on the floor in my bedroom? Wait, did she just say something I should respond to? What do I do? What do I do? Don’t panic…Just nod (He begins to nod in agreement.) Yeah….that’s it. Crisis averted.
Her: I KNOW! RIGHT?
Him: (a little too excitedly) Yeah!!!
And then the man with the mic said something that suddenly lifted the veil from my eyes. He took a dramatic pause and began,
“You broke my heart…because I couldn’t dance…you didn’t even want me around….”
I WAS AT CAMP KELLERMAN! I HAD SOMEHOW FOUND MYSELF IN THE GERIATRIC VERSION OF DIRTY DANCING! (insert excruciatingly painful cry of NOOOOOOOOOO!!!!! here.)
As the band played on, couples shifted into standard Dirty Dancing poses. All of a sudden there was grinding and bumping and dry-humping going on all over the bar. The entire bar went from doing some corny line dance to acting like teenagers whose parents were out-of-town for the weekend. I didn’t even know people with hip replacements were that flexible. Staring at this picture, I was horrified and amused at the same time. I could have looked away, but then my eyes would have settled on something even more obscene.
The band played a few love songs that quickly segued into baby-making music…but not before the bridal party showed up.
I’m probably not a good example of the “Every Little Girl” but I’m pretty sure that it’s not Every Little Girl’s dream that she spend a few hours of her wedding night in a bar with people three times her age. I have to believe that this girl either worked at this bar or was coming to see her parents who had somehow ended up at this bar after the reception.
As the baby-making music took off and the elderly got even more explicit in their movements I tried to picture what these people did in their real lives. I wondered if they were there with their spouses, if they worked in offices or factories and if they had kids, or more likely grandkids, at home with a babysitter.
Now enters a man who very well might have been the lead singer of the Cars. Business in front, party in the back, Yes…I kid you not, the perfect mullet walked in. This was no ordinary mullet either. This guy had spent some time shaping it because there was nary a hair out-of-place and it was a deep chestnut while the lines on his face said that it probably should have been gray. It got even better from the neck down: He had on a Don Johnson-y gray sports jacket with shoulder pads to give him that triangular shape. Pulling together the whole ensemble was a very thin tie. I didn’t even want to glance at his lower half but I can only guess that he was wearing pants with several pressed pleats in front and a braided leather belt.
I kept my eyes on him, not so much because I wanted to watch him but because I couldn’t stop watching him. I am always baffled by people with weird hair that don’t seem to be self-conscious about it. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, there has got to be AT LEAST one person in Mr. Mullet’s life that could say, ‘Dude, lose the mullet. The eighties are over. Let it go.” (although this guy should quit using the 1986-appropriate term “Dude”) I stand by my theory that people tend to get stuck, fashion-wise, in the era that they were the most happy in. For example, I worked with a woman who was the epitome of an eighties’ hair band groupie and I firmly believe that it was because those were her glory days. I think Mr. Mullet might have succumbed to the same phenomenon.
The band began to really delve into the lovemaking songs and so of course had to play Let’s Get It On to which Mr. Mullet began to sway and swish and lean and bend and twist and throw random hands in the air and mouth the words all by himself. He also did those weird finger pointing motions that are typically associated with a man by himself on the dance floor. Even though he was by his friend, Mr. Mullet was just in his own world. At some point during the song I think he found a dance partner who had a ring on so I assumed she was his wife. They moved out on the floor and I lost him for a few minutes….until the next song came on and he had a new dance partner, also with a ring on her finger. I’m sorry, am I at a key party?
It got worse. The band started to play Sexual Healing. Mr. Mullet was really into a groove with Woman Number Two. He was using one hand to grope every part of her body while the other hand he used to steady himself with the rail that seperated the dance floor from the chrome and pleather. Occasionally he would shake his head this way and that way to get his mullet out from under his jacket collar. I would love to tell you that I got up and went to my car or at least looked away but I didn’t do either. I had to look because I couldn’t believe what I was seeing, but I didn’t want to look because no one wants to see that. At some point during the “dance” Woman Number Two moved her hands somewhere I couldn’t see, hopefully on the upper half of his torso under his sport coat but from the look on Mr. Mullet’s Mick Jaggery face, I’m pretty sure her hands had ventured lower. I felt like I had somehow ended up in his entirely-decorated-in-leopard-print bedroom with them. Awkward.
And finally my ride said she was ready to go. I did not hesitate. I had sipped soda all through the evening but when it was time to leave I considered ordering the strongest possible drink TO GO in order to dull the pain that I would endure when I got home as I scraped my eyeballs with a blunted knife to try to get these visions of the elderly mating rituals out of my head.
I have to say though, that I was very proud of myself for being able to control my urge to turn around as I hit my stride to the door and yell:
NO ONE PUTS BABY IN THE CORNER!