[Editor’s note: For this week’s essay we’ve once again pulled out a relic from the archive of Slim Goodbuzz, who served as Duluth’s “booze connoisseur” from 1999 to 2009. Twenty years ago the Sultan of Sot visited C’s Lounge, 1419 Banks Ave. in Superior, which today is the location of a Kwik Trip convenience store. The article below appeared in the April 16, 2003 issue of the Ripsaw newspaper.]
Whenever I go to C’s Lounge — and I’ve been known to do that from time to time — I find myself baffled that I’m in Superior, Wis. Hell, I’m baffled that I’m in the 21st century. Walk into C’s and it’s like walking into Hibbing in the 1970s, not that I have any idea what that would be like. Nonetheless, that’s the feel.
The place is dark, in a good way, with amber and red lights hanging from the glittery ceiling. Everything else is either red or the color of wood. In fact, it looks and feels a lot like the Regal Beagle from Three’s Company, except that instead of spotting Jack Tripper and Larry, you’re more likely to spot middle-aged white trash.
The best thing about C’s is that the drinks are cheap and strong. It’s not uncommon for the drink specials to be something different and surprising, such as $2 Manhattans. For the domestically inclined, beer comes in big mugs for under $3. And, for folks like you and me, tap Busch Light is always 65 cents a glass. That is information to be treasured.
So after illegally negotiating the no-left-turn debacle on the corner of Belknap and Banks, I walk into C’s and find the place filled with people tonight. This throws me off for a second, especially since some of the people in here are under 40 and a few of them might even be single. This is not the C’s I know and tolerate. I stand there stupid for a few seconds, and it’s at this point that I realize what’s going on. It’s Bizarro Drinking Night. And I started it.
For some reason, I stopped off at Erbert & Gerbert’s on the way here and picked up a big, meaty #9. Normally, I’d come over to Superior on an empty stomach, drink like a fucken wallaby, and end up sucking down the fast food at around 2:35am. But tonight is different. I’ve brought a sandwich to the bar with me. And it’s going to screw up everything.
I force my way to the bar to order tonight’s drink special — a domestic bottle for $1 — and a bag of chips, and the bartender looks at me like I’m some kind of mutant.
“Chips? Uh, wow, that’s different. What kind?”
I tell her any kind’s fine, and point to a yellow bag behind the bar. “The yellow kind.”
She goes back and looks at the bag, then digs through all the other bags on the wall, then comes back. “The only yellow kind we have is … barbecue,” she says, inflecting the word “barbecue” as if it’s the word “booger.”
I tell her that I kind of like barbecue chips, and that I need them because it’s Bizarro Drinking Night, so she shrugs and hands them over. I head for one of the red vinyl booths to cram down my sandwich surrounded by guys with goatees talking about hockey, the layoffs at Fleming and ratemypoo.com. I want to be a part of one of those conversations, but tonight I’m shying away, because it’s Bizarro Drinking Night. I’m afraid we might end up talking about Barbie dolls, the power of positive thinking and how Easter is right around the corner.
By the way, I’ve never seen this bartender before. Usually when I come here, there’s a younger guy working, who happily goes around freshening drinks and chatting up the clientele, tossing cherries into the ladies’ cocktails when he’s not shoveling heaps of C’s restaurant food into his mouth like he’s one of the Donner Party. Sometimes when you place your order, he’ll head to the taps, then come back and admit that he’s “having a blond moment.” The ladies like him, and that’s what being a bartender is all about, at least for the bartender.
I’m thinking of those heaps of restaurant food as I’m unwrapping my lousy sandwich, and this makes me start pining for a plate of something hot and greasy. What am I doing eating this crap when I’m not even drunk yet? Oh yeah. It’s Bizarro Drinking Night. I take a look at the table tent. Holy shit — I could be eating something called Xtremers. I don’t know what the hell those are, but they sound spicy and good, and unlikely to wreck my yet-to-be-established buzz.
The juke at C’s is stacked with total sewage, mainly contemporary country, but tonight a couple of people have done their best, choosing appropriate Rod Stewart hits for the room — “Da Ya Think I’m Sexy?” being the best of these. This adds to the Regal Beagleness of the bar, which I appreciate. They’ve also weeded through the compilation discs to find a few choice cuts from the past. Overall, it’s pretty good considering the options.
In honor of Bizarro Drinking Night, I decide to leave Superior at midnight in order to drink for one more hour in Duluth. But before I can make my way to the icy parking lot outside, which tonight seems to have been freshly Zambonied, I run into the Woman With Monstrous Cleavage. With this, I decide to get another beer.
If it really is Bizarro Drinking Night, the Woman With Monstrous Cleavage will get fresh with me, and I’ll get insulted and slap her across the face. I can hardly wait.
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