Thursday, September 9, 2010


When I showed up with my girlfriend at her cousin's estrogen-fueled bachelorette party, I found myself inside a room surrounded my women sipping booze out of plastic martini glasses, giggling and swapping panties with one another.

As you can imagine, I exited the premises quickly.

The sun was about to go down and I was in California. La-la land. The best type of California.

The night before, back on St. Thomas, my friend Jerry told me all about how he and his girlfriend used to work/play at this great bar in Long Beach. He repeated over and over again that I should visit this establishment during my stay on the Left Side and that he knew all the bartenders and blah, blah, blah ... you know how those conversations play out.

Suddenly, I decided his drunken banter would become that night's game plan.

Remembering the name of the bar was the first step. I remembered it, which was a surprise. It was an omen. I looked up the address on my iPhone, plugged it into the GPS and found out the bar was about 10 miles away from the ovaries-only party.

The best part was that as the sun melted into the horizon, I sped down the Pacific Coast Highway at top speeds and felt absolutely content for the first time in days.

My arrival at the Belmont Brewing Company was poorly timed. The bar was packed to the brim, the bartenders were swamped and the TVs were saturated with USC and 49er football game coverage.

I hung back in the corner and sipped my stout until Stephen, the bartender I was supposed to ask for, earned a moment of freedom.

When he did and I introduced myself by dropping Jerry and Julie's names, I instantly became the toast of the town. Apparently, Jerry and Julie were legends at the Belmont as each and every employee eventually approached me with questions about them and St. Thomas.

"Is Julie still drinking (enter oblivious alcoholic shooter name here)?" asked one bartender and "St. Thomas? Why the hell did they move there anyway?" another inquired.

Being the good sport I am, I consumed all of their favorite shooters in celebration of Julie (or perhaps the mere mention of her name). I also became their robotic tour guide to the Caribbean while showing them photos from my phone and sandal tan lines on my feet.

Many good stories were told and a joyous time was had by all. I got to know a Mexican couple sitting next to me and a former boxing coach from South America, who refused to talk about boxing.

But as I began to notice less patrons visiting the actual bar and a rowdy bunch of hooligans gathering in the high tops nearby, I decided to plan my exit strategy.

"No way dude, not yet -- the after-hours crew is just getting started," Stephen said while he motioned toward the tattooed-laced bruisers.

After-hours? What the hell is that? I explained to them that on St. Thomas, there are no "after hours" and no open-container laws.

"We drink when we want and at all hours," I said.

"Bullshit," Stephen snapped back, taking the Caribbean boast personally.

Just then I thought I saw the only female in the tough-guy group try to brake a bottle over her head. Maybe I was fed too many pink panthers or purple people eaters? Not sure. I thanked Stephen and left the bar before I could figure it out.

Being engulfed by an emerging mob with a belly full of girly drinks didn't bode well for me.

On the way home, I had the Classic Rock tunes going hard. So loud that they almost drowned out Maggie and the GPS instructions. Luckily, my hotel, which I hadn't even checked into yet, was only five miles away.

Another flat-out burn down the Pacific Coast Highway to safety. Security. And the late-night burrito drive-thru line.

I love me some California.

No comments:

Post a Comment