When I was a pre-teen, I had a friend from church named Todd. We would frequently spend our Sunday afternoons together or have the occasional sleep over. Staying at Todd’s house was always an exotic adventure. Todd had cable, the forbidden fruit. But even more forbidden was what was just blocks away from his house. Sitting right on the corner of Pecos and 88th, was the Bare and Boogie, a topless bar. From across the street, we could briefly see inside, when someone entered and exited the building. We never actually saw anything sexual, but it was not for a lack of trying. Many an hour was spent in the parking lot across the street with a pair of cheap field glasses trying to get a glance of the forbidden fruit. I looked forward with great anticipation to the few opportunities I had to be a public peeping Tom.
Worthy of noting, the Bare and Boogie was what was called in the day, a 3.2 bar, which meant at the time that 18 year olds could drink there. By the time I turned 18, Todd and I were no longer friends. But B&B had not lost its appeal. I had one bucket list item when I came of age. I must set foot in the B&B. My high school friends were only too willing to oblige. When I turned 18, me and a couple of friends went to the B&B, proudly displaying our Photo IDs.
I had an adrenaline rush as we pulled into the parking lot. This was it. I was going to see a naked woman.
I was shocked when I crossed the threshold. The bar was tiny. There was just a makeshift stage with folding chairs surrounding. Burned out husks of humanity sat stage side and looked drunk and depressed. We scoped out the table furthest from the stage. A waitress came and took our orders. It was pretty simple since all they served was Coors and Coors Light in the bottle.
At some point, I must have looked at the stage. But we were so embarrassed and ashamed that we just chugged our beers, paid the check and bolted for the door. Not a word was exchanged either in the B&B or during our rapid retreat. We headed to the mall and never spoke of the evening again.
I am instinctively cringing as I write this. It is an ugly, ugly memory.
When I started writing this, I was going to draw an analogy to spirituality. I now see that goal as misguided.
It was what it was, one of many moments where my innocence was dismantled.