Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Remember That Time We Had Drinks With Racists?

This is the story of two Cincinnati girls and a crazy exchange in the Big Apple.

So, a couple weeks ago I jetted to New York City with one of my dearest friends. Candace has business in The City and currently splits her time between there and our hometown, so I decided to join her for one of her treks out east.

It was a great weekend full of masked adventure, amazing dining at a secret spot in the Bowery District (ed note: if you want in, message me and I can give you a few tips), and sneaky cocktails near Chinatown.

But perhaps my favorite story of the weekend involves our very first stop for cocktails.

We had a standing reservation for dinner at the Standard Grill. I'd perused the menu and couldn't wait to try the house made fettuccine with wild mushrooms and a truffle and cognac cream sauce. Doesn't that just make your mouth water? I was eager for dinner but we had almost an hour to kill, so we decided to seek out a spot for a drink.

As luck would have it, the corners of my eye spotted an unassuming brick building glowing with a cluster of neon signs. Hogs & Heifers Saloon. I don't know why the name jogged my brain but it did, and when Candace suggested we find a bar I quickly pointed in its direction.

Now, this is not the kind of place for a Junior League meeting. Well, there was that one time a bunch of us went to a place with a mechanical bull after a monthly meeting, but that's another story.

Hogs and Heifers is draped with brassieres flung by over-served patrons and their amorous boyfriends, and its lady bartenders wear tight jeans and tiny T-shirts or less.

This place is the real Coyote Ugly.

We approached the bar, and knowing we'd be sipping on champagne later, we decided to begin decidedly low brow - with cans of PBR. How hipster. How young. The bartender grabbed a megaphone and bleated that we needed to order shots, too.

We obliged.

Sipping on our respective Makers and vodka shots (I'm the bourbon girl), the bartender then asked us to dance on the bar. We smiled and demurred that it just wasn't our style, so she and the bikini-topped barmaid decided to hop on the bar and do a clogging routine to The Devil Went Down to Georgia.

They yelled with their megaphones at the sparse crowd, telling the happy hour customers to clap, "or get the fuck out." And so we clapped.

And then they changed the song on the jukebox, and I knew Candace and I were in trouble.

Dolly Parton's "9 to 5" came blaring on and the lady bartenders chided us, telling us we had to get on the bar and dance. Not wanting to pass up an opportunity for a good story, we gingerly climbed on the bar - in our high heels and nice dresses - and slightly wiggled in our dining attire.

The song finished and we tried to gracefully descend from our bar-cum-dance floor, when a bald, 30-something man offered his hand to help us down.

Stay with me. This is where the story gets good.

Jason, we'll call him, offered to buy us drinks, and so the bartender grabbed us another round of beers and shots.

We made polite conversation and Candace shared information about our respective professions. She and I handed over business cards and the chatter continued.

Jason kept remarking about our beauty and how impressed he was that I could handle bourbon. I replied that my ten years of living in Central Kentucky offered up an indoctrination into bourbon, basketball and horse racing. We all laughed.

Jason's friend Tony arrived. An Italian with a thick New Yawk accent. He had a wad of cash and was waiting for someone to swing by with a cardboard box full of T-bone steaks.

I felt like we'd just entered a surreal world of the bizarre. I mean, who has meat delivered to a corner bar? I'll tell you who - this guy, Tony.

Mister New Yawk started talking to me, remarking about how beautiful Candace and I were. He started waxing poetic about our blonde tresses, "You both have beauty-full blonde hair. Beauty-full, blonde white women."

Say what?

Tony made a comment under his breath discounting the natural status of our blonde hair and then he asked me to look Jason's way.

"You see that tattoo? You know what we are?"

I didn't want to stare too long out of courtesy, but I saw a bird. Was it an owl? An eagle? I noticed it was perched on a circle of some kind before I looked away for fear of being rude.

"That's Aryan Nation. We're Aryan Nation." He exclaimed it with pride as I took a big swig of America's Best out of Milwaukee.

Oh. My. God.

We're drinking with racists, my brain computed. Like, in-the-open, big and bold bigots.

At that moment I was grateful for every manner and courtesy my mother taught me. No, this was not a time to wave my flag and be proud of my beliefs in diversity and equal rights of all kinds. This was a time for me to smile and demonstrate social graces in the most uncomfortable of situations.

I cocked my head in Candace's direction, offering her a polite but glaring smile. "How are you doing over there?" I asked as my pained expression said volumes. "Honey, I think it might be time for us to finish these quickly and make it to our dinner reservation."

Quick witted and a great reader of context, Candace dropped her can on the bar and we tossed on our coats.

A few, cursory pleasantries with Jason and Tony and then we scooted out the door.

What a weird evening, and it was only 7:30 pm.

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Kate's Random Musings by Kate the Great is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.


5chw4r7z said...

I'm guessing the steaks probably fell off the back of a truck, as they'd say in Youngstown.

Unknown said...

Kind of a poser aren't you? Way to stand up to racism with two obvious jackasses. You didn't demostrate manners and courtesy, you demostrated fear. Oh, and by the way, once they made you uncomfortable and you decided to run away why did you offer them "a few, cursory pleasantries.."? You could have done the least thing and stopped talking to them. I don't think your "beliefs in diversity" are very strong or mean much to you.