Ripped at Horseshoe Billiards in 2006

[Editor’s note: For this week’s essay we’ve pulled out a relic from the archive of Slim Goodbuzz, who served as Duluth’s “booze connoisseur” from 1999 to 2009. As construction continues on the new Ursa Minor Brewery at 2415 W. Superior St., this article harkens back to the days when the building was home to a pool hall and drinking establishment called Horseshoe Billiards. The article was originally published in the May 8, 2006 issue of the Transistor.]

I should know better than to expect middle-aged hustlers. I want to hang out with someone like Minnesota Fats tonight, and instead I’m surrounded by a crowd of mostly 25- to 35-year-olds who fall into two categories: 1) Unattractive men. 2) Unattractive women.

Now, I don’t require pretty faces to have a good time. But see, these creeps at Horseshoe Billiards are unattractive for reasons other than what nature dealt them.

There are a lot of men here wearing jerseys who obviously don’t play sports, for example. About half of these guys are wearing hats, and the ones who aren’t should be.

There are a lot of women here who appear to be pregnant, and the ones that don’t seem pregnant have a look about them that tells me they soon will be. It’s not an “I’m hot and someone will have sex with me tonight” look. It’s an “I’m horny and have no mental capacity for planning my future” look.

There are about 60 people spread out over the five game rooms tonight. There are 20 pool tables, 10 poker tables, nine dartboards, two ping-pong tables, and five video games. There are three jukeboxes and 12 “House Rules.”

Excuse me? rules? Most bars are able to sum up their rules in two sentences, which don’t need to be posted because they are universally accepted. 1) You must be 21 or older. 2) Don’t be a fucken dick or we’ll throw you out.

So, what are these 12 rules at Horseshoe Billiards, and which ones are the most hilarious? Well, the first one starts things off nicely by basically saying if you aren’t able to prove you live in the tri-state area you’re not welcome. Photo identification is required from either Minnesota, Wisconsin or for some reason any Canadian province. Apparently if Franklin and Pauline Burcer from New Haven drop in they’ll be told their Connecticut driver’s license is no good here.

But forget about that. Let’s focus on rules six through ten, as they are the true gems. Ironically, they all deal with fashion.

Rule six: “Hats MUST be worn straight forward or straight backward.” I wish I had a cap on right now so I could look the bartender in the eye and begin to turn it, then, when he starts to say something, straighten it out. I’d really enjoy repeating that all night.

Rule seven: “No hooded jackets or sweatshirts allowed with hood up.” Apparently this happens so often and causes so many problems that a rule became necessary. But there are no rules about groping people, vomiting or threatening violence.

Rule eight: “Pants MUST be worn around waist.” Wow. Do my shoes have to be on my feet or can I wear them on my shoulders?

Rule nine: “No dew rags, bandannas, gang insignia of any kind, what so ever.” Good thing they were specific. I can just imagine some guy saying, “No, no. This isn’t a bandanna, it’s a dew rag. You don’t have a rule against dew rags.”

Rule ten: “Any inappropriate dress, hygiene, appearance or attitude will result in banishment.” Well, then why are all these people here tonight allowed to stay? Look at all the patchy beards and fucked up make-up on these goblins.

At least my pint of Killian’s is only two bucks. I think I’ll stick around and see how things play out. After all, the most attractive woman in the place is giving me the ol’ come hither. … Don’t worry, Ms. Pac-Man, I’m on my way.

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