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I had always wanted to go to Cocktails Dancing (6521 Abrams Road). On Abrams Road, right next door to a Title Max and a tire shop, it appeared to be the perfect dive bar. I waited to go there for about two years out of the simple fear that it would not live up to my dirty, seedy hopes and dreams.
I wanted to keep it pure in my mind, with its shuffleboard and its snarky bartender who'll punch you in the tits if you ask for something mixology-ed. Say to this guy, "Can you just make me something, ya know, off the top of your head? I like sweet drinks," and he gets out a rocks glass, fills it with whiskey and tells you, "This one is not on the house." Two perfect old ladies with Patsy Cline wigs play shitty darts. The Leg Lamp from A Christmas Story sits above the bar, in some kind of Chili's crapstorm of Americana that was there before Chili's existed. This was my dream of Cocktails Dancing.
In my dream, you take a seat at the bar, and the old people who have lived at that bar like neighbors for decades squint at you. You are not their friend, are you? Your name isn't Sally or Dottie or Sue. Dammit. You are new. New is stupid. New is sitting in Sue's damn bar chair. And if New dares to ask the karaoke people to play "The Wobble," the old people will cut New a new one.
Eventually, though, I had to see the reality of Cocktails Dancing to know whether or not life was worth life-ing. Also, I needed a beer.
My first, immediate discovery upon walking up to Cocktails Dancing was that it is not, in fact, called Cocktails Dancing. The name of this bar is displayed on a small white vinyl banner underneath Cocktails Dancing. It reads: One Nostalgia Place. I feel a twinge of nervous shitfuckshittery. What if it was a disco inside and not a shitty bar? What if there are hipsters in there doing hipster things? What if -- horror of horrors -- there are not octogenarians inside?
I walked closer to the door, and a guy in a biker jacket walked out, lighting his cigarette as he was walking, looking at the ground, acknowledging no one. He was not straight out of Sons of Anarchy. He was a weathered guy who had had that jacket for decades and wore it because riding motorcycles is dangerous, and sometimes you fly off of them, and a motorcycle jacket will protect you from getting asphalt permanently embedded in your back. Not because that shit's cool. So far, so good.
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We ordered a bucket of Miller Lite. The beer was in cans. I was overjoyed.
As the night went on, the bar was everything I imagined and more. Karaoke started, and a regular took the stage, singing Adele's "Someone Like You." I suddenly didn't hate that song. The Patsy Cline wig dream lady I always wanted to be a regular here WAS A REGULAR HERE. She sang this song like she actually has felt pain in her life. It was beautiful. Her karaoke regular friends and her bar neighbors clapped as she finished the song. The karaoke people took a break. The Olds at the bar breathed a sigh of relief. A break from karaoke meant a momentary return to Willie Nelson and the click-click-thunks of some drunken idiot sucking at pool.
The phone rang. A bartender picked it up and hung it up immediately, without ever bringing the receiver to her ear. The bathroom toilets were only sort of connected to the floor. A T-shirt on the mirrored wall near the entrance of the bar read "One Nasty." I like this place. I like it a whole lot.
One Nostalgia Place is not at all Cocktails Dancing. It is more Straight Whiskey Olding. And for that, I am eternally grateful.