Editor's Note: We all know local music and dive bars go hand-in-hand. So in the interest of merging the two together on Heard Mentality, we bring you our nightlife column Dive, Dive, My Darling. Read as our bold web editor Taylor "Hellcat" Hamby stumbles into the dive bar scene every week to find crazy stories, meet random weirdos and guzzle good booze.]
Let me start by apologizing to my mom. I can already hear her lecture about how I should know better. Sorry, Mom, just doing my job.
It was a Friday. I had just finished eating chicken fried steak at Harbor House when I decided to stop in at Mother's Tavern solo for one beer. There was just one stool--at the corner of the bar, right by the door. As fate would have it, it was next to an old dude with a white horseshoe mustache that would make Sam Elliott quiver. He's the type of guy next to whom I prefer to NOT sit unaccompanied. I counted down the moments it would take for him to strike up a conversation. Five . . . four . . . three . . .
"Hey, dear, so is this your first time here?" he asked.
"Uh, no. It's my second." I took a swig from my Mason jar.
On the other side of him was the most beautiful woman I've ever seen at a dive bar. The man introduced the thirtysomething beauty as a fine lady he had met in the bank line. Yeah, okay, Stranger. And she laughed right on cue.
I tried my best to keep my eyes forward and avoid conversation. I was halfway through my beer when the Stranger stood up and approached me. "Hey, come with us," he said. "We're going down the street to King Neptune's to listen to some real rock & roll music." "I'll meet you there, friend," I said, tipping my jar toward him.
"Bullshit," he shot back. "You won't come." "Nah, man, I will. I just have half a beer here that I'm not gonna abandon," I explained. "I'll meet you there."
"I'll buy you a new one there," he persisted. "Just come with us." This back-and-forth went on a few more times until he grew so impatient with me he grabbed me by the arm. When he realized I was serious about finishing my beer, he took the glass and smoothly hid it under his flannel. "I run this town," he assured me when I laughed.
Throwing common sense to the wind, I jumped into the back of a fancy black Caddy waiting out front; the Stranger's Willie Nelson-look-alike friend sat at the wheel, and the pretty dame named Rita got in the front. "Hey," my brain thought, "this will be great article fodder--or they will rape and chop me up." The sacrifices I make for you assholes.
On the way over, Al the driver told me that Gene was the unofficial mayor of Sunset Beach. Everyone knew him or wanted to know him. We arrived at J. King Neptune's, all vaginas and limbs intact. But the fun happened afterward. I had too many beers in me to drive home, so they invited me to Al's house down the street. We weren't there long when Gene belligerently demanded we all go to his place--Father's, as he called it. Rita, Gene and I stumbled over. He even had a wooden plaque above his door reading, "Father's." We finished out the night with Coors Lights, singing folk tunes as Gene played the guitar. I fell asleep on the couch. Shortly after I woke up in the morning, Gene came into the living room. "So you stayed the night on Father's Couch," he said. "It has its own Facebook page, you know: Father's Couch Bed and Breakfast (Without the Bed or the Breakfast)." He was not shitting me--it really does.
Father had to go to the racetrack, so he kicked Rita and I out around 10:30 a.m. He made me a cup of vanilla coffee, handed me two unripened avocados and sent me on my way.
Come here for: The inexpensive crab legs!
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Best quote of the night: Me, to Gene: "Whoa, don't get mad at me. I'm just trying to have light, intelligent discourse." Al: "Don't bother, he don't know what that is."
J. King Neptune's, 17115 Pacific Coast Hwy., Sunset Beach, (562) 592-4878; www.jkingneptune.com.