Friday, December 05, 2003

A friend's father

A friend of mine that I used to run with when I moved to Charlotte in the early 90's lost his father Thanksgiving morning. I met this friend over ten years ago and I've known his parents almost as long. I don't remember exactly when I met his parents but I got to know them pretty well. They had me over for Thanksgiving on at least one occasion after my family moved back to Michigan. They're good people.

In honor of the recently deceased John Goebel I would like to relate a story about an adventure I had with him and my friend, his son.

There was a sports bar out on Highway 74 here in Charlotte for a while. It was one of the first big sports bars in the area. It had four or five big screen projection televisions on the wall behind the bar. Each would be showing a different event and you could choose which event to focus on by whichever audio selection you made on the speaker at your table. That speaker in the center of the table always reminded me of the personal jukebox that you used to find in the booths at Big Boy's.

When I say that Jeff and I ran together that means, of course, that in our mid-twenties we were each others main drinking buddy. I loved to watch football with Jeff and one night his father accompanied us to the big sports bar to watch football. I don't really recall why Mr. Goebel came out with us that night. It may have been a big game or because it was the holiday season or both.

After the football game we decided, somehow, to go to a topless bar. I have no idea whose idea it was but we were all drunk and feeling a good intergenerational male bonding vibe and decided it would be best capped off by locating and ogling half-nude women who would dance for our money.

The only topless bar in that part of Charlotte is this scary little place called the Palace Lounge. It's the type of bar you expect to read stories in the paper about concerning bikers knifing each other over the favors of redneck strippers with bad skin and scars. It was the only one within a twenty minute drive so we went, dammit. Sometimes you just gotta.

The Palace Lounge was an authentic shit hole. It was tiny and cramped. There was no real stage to speak of and I don't recall seeing a backstage dressing area for the girls. There was no annoying DJ. The music the girls danced to came from a shitty juke box in the back of the joint. There were four women. Three of them were either ugly or had a body that should not be displayed so (before you get mad I don't dance for tips for a good goddamn reason) and the fourth had a nice body but was almost old enough to be my mother. We got her to dance for us.

Mr. Goebel was having a blast and he was trying to chat up our aged beauty and at one point he smiled and said to her, "You must have seniority here, huh?" I don't recall a time in my life where I have had as hard a time stifling a gut laugh. After about half an hour Jeff and I were able to convince his dad to leave. We ushered him the hell out of there as quickly as we could.

Like I told Jeff on the phone the other night, "I always liked your Dad, he made me laugh."

Jeff made my day when he said, "He liked you too."

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