Suspicious Minds

Photo by Matt OttoForthepastweek,somebody's68-year-oldgrandma has been walking around Tustin with only one lens in her old-lady glasses. Pity, given the impossible thickness of its missing half—a single, rectangular wedge that had been left atop a stack of Avon catalogs inside the restroom at the Fling last Friday. No wonder she lost it—the poor dame couldn't see a goddamned thing.

Hang out at the Fling on a Friday—or any night, really—and it's likely you'll meet a lot of grandmas—some sitting at the bar, barefoot, big-haired and hot; others shaking it on the dance floor, drunk and manic and looking eerily like StrangersWithCandy'sJerri Blank. It's where geriatrics go to drink, and where Commie Lady goes to get wasted along with them; it's also where young folks—hip, not hip, it doesn't really matter—go to get a peek at how'll they'll look if they continue to hang out in bars for another 40 years.

In a word, the Fling is simply capital,and not just because the bar tab after three Jack and sodas and as many Coors Lights totals a mere 21 bucks. You can find similar tabs at every dive bar in the county, but there's a reason people ploink down five bucks to drink Amstel Lights inside elevator-sized Costa Mesa bars instead: unless you're a drunk, sleeping with one, or both, real dive bars—not the co-opted ones in Long Beach—are all sorts of scary.

From the shady construction workers who flock to them before work to the toothless and greasy-haired late-stage alcoholics who don't talk so much as alternate between slurps and grunts, dive bars can be hit or miss as bankable drinking destinations. But at the Fling, there's no worrying that someone will go all backwoods on your ass if you happen to sit in their chair. No one looks like a lifer, getting wasted at the bar because they have no other choice; like you, the folks at the Fling just like to get a little drunk and party. They also just happen to have a couple of decades on you.

Spend a few hours at the Fling, and you start to feel at home, kind of like that Thanksgiving you spent at Mammy and Pappy's when you were 12, except this time, you don't have to sneak sips of wine and there are red-leather booths and paintings of naked women on the walls. You feel at home because everybody—septuagenarians and 23-year-olds alike—is singing along with Eddie Day, the Wizard of Rock N Roll; in this case, “Wizard” means a tubby old dude who plays the occasional chord on his guitar over karaoke-like versions of hits by the Eagles, Neil Diamond, Frank Sinatra, Steve Winwood andMarc Cohn and who, when singing the King's “Suspicious Minds,” whips out a pair of women's panties and sniffs them. There's also CBS on the telly, pink ribbons on the bathroom wallpaper, and that white-haired and wrinkly old guy who keeps asking every young gal in the room to dance? He's not popping Viagra, but rather a professional dance instructor who just likes to make women remember—with all his twists, twirls and dips—what dancing feels like.

It's a winning—literally: cutely framed on the wall behind the bar is an AOL City Guide City's Best 2005 award—combination of comfort and endlessly entertaining people, a dive bar you could take your mother to as easily as you could 10 of your rowdiest, most-attention-deficient friends. But whomever you bring, be sure to keep a lookout on your way there—if you see an old lady with broken glasses stumbling around nearby, pull over. She's headed your way.

The Fling, 2370 N. Tustin Ave., Ste. D, Santa Ana, (714) 547-8972. Eddie Day, the Wizard of Rock N Roll performs every Fri.-Sat. Call for time. Free. 21+.

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