Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Chapter 17 - Knarr or Duchess?

The Boys in the Boathouse
A Novel -- really, none of this ever happened -- by Dr. Frank Emfbo

Chapter Seventeen
Knarr or Duchess?

Beef or chicken? Pork or fish? On a scale of food from drinking your own piss to filet mignon, the Knarr was a can of generic chili. The Duchess was Dinty Moore beef stew.

The rest of the college crowd favored O’Banion’s. Dante’s. Rapunzel’s. The intellectual elite hung at the Blue Moon. But we wanted our own place, where nobody would know us. Where we could just be ourselves.

The Knarr would let anyone in, at least when Marcia was working. Tulla had his Dibby back home, the one he’d marry a month after graduation. But for now he’d flirt with Marcia just enough to get her to let us all in. What could possibly go wrong? It was just a couple dozen underage crew guys plus their dates hanging out in a dive bar where the other customers just kept to themselves and let us go nuts.

It was a shit hole. Still, it was a club, but not a nightclub like you’d imagine. The club president wasn’t a slimy mafia boss in a porkpie hat at a dark corner booth. The president sat on an elevated chair like a baby in a booster seat. He was Coon, feisty little fucking peckerhead coxswain. I, president Coon, call this meeting of the Knarr Club to order. Do we have any new inductees? You? Have you retrieved the urinal cake? Ah, good. Under the powers vested in me I hereby command you to bite that fucker in half!

And the sucker would bite the cake. The tough guys would just pick the damn thing up barehanded straight out of the urinal, bring it to the table and make it happen. The weenies – I was going to say the smart guys, but is any of this shit smart? – grabbed it with a paper towel and washed it off first.

Either way, if the bite was not effective or pleasing to the eye of the little fucking peckerhead president, back the sucker would go to get another one. It was not unheard of to bite three cakes before the club membership was deemed acceptable.

Other than a bunch of rowdy underage crew guys who may well have kept the place in business, it was pretty quiet in the Knarr. The shuffleboard table kept us entertained while we waited for the pool table. And it was a rare thing to have a stranger step up and drop a quarter for the next game. And, other than shuffleboard, pool, beer, urinal cakes, and Marcia, we eventually ran out of reasons to say “Aaaarrrgh! To the Knarr!”

The Duchess actually carded people. Usually everyone. And it was just a step up, chili to stew. It was also more for serious drinking and carrying on with a select few members of the rest of the public. But the dive bar ambience remained. Doctor Frank had picked up the habit of chewing snoose and spitting in one cup while drinking beer from the other, which is awesome as long as you remember which is which. The owner of the bar actually walked by and told me to spit on the rug instead. “tobacco bits fuck up my dishwasher,” he said. So I gave him the glass and spit on the floor. It was easier for both of us.

The Duchess had an edge to it, an attitude that was lacking at the Knarr. If the Knarr was ‘ludes, the Duchess was speed. Even a big crew motherfucker didn’t want to mess with anyone there. We were lovers, not fighters, anyway. Take Tulla for instance. He comes out of the Duchess all pissed off and yelling about something, a guy takes exception and tells him to shut up, Tulla goes to fight him, the guy pops him two quick ones and it’s over in like two seconds. Kind of a bummer to be Tulla with that big bandage on his schnozz the next morning.

Now and then our lady friends would come looking for us at the bar. Now and then they’d find us with our arm around someone else. Now and then they wouldn’t find us at all, and they’d end up with someone else’s arm around them, or they’d make their way to the Connie looking for us. Doctor Frank recalls this one particular time, lying in his top rack in the boathouse, nearly asleep, when his roommate’s honey pounds on the door wondering why he wasn’t at the Knarr like he said he’d be. He gets up to open the door and nearly falls over from the beer stench.

Roomie’s girlfriend sways in the open doorway, arm around her wing woman. As Doctor Frank recalls, wingwoman’s name was Jill. She was a stubby little one with soft eyes, curly hair and big lips that were always wet. Chitchat ensues, another door opens in the hallway, and our neighbor who shall remain nameless steps into the hall. He spies Jill, having seen her before on another visit, tells her how beautiful she is and how much he needs her company. She smiles lustfully and pulls him into his room. Before the door closes, roomie’s girlfriend hollers after her to make it quick. They gotta get home, plus these stud athletic specimens have practice in the morning.

Not even ten minutes later, we hear our neighbor’s door open and shut. Jill walks in, licking her lips. “Mmmm, that was tasty. And quick,” she says. “Let’s go.”

Jill is wearing a beautiful blue silk top. Roomie’s girlfriend takes a closer look, still weaving, trying to focus. She points just below Jill’s chin, and slurs, “What’s that? Jill? Is that…”

Jill looks down. “Dammit! I thought I swallowed it all! How am I gonna get that stain out?”  Now she’s pissed. “This top cost a bunch of money!”

Girlfriend puts her arm around Jill, comforting her. “Honey, honey. Just tell the drycleaner you spilled pop on it. Or ice cream. Whatever, they’re miracle workers. And one more thing…

“If you’re going to do that, always take your top off first.”

Who knew? A lesson learned after a trip to the Knarr would go all the way to the Other Washington and the Oval Office, three thousand miles and twenty years later.

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