Two of my friends and former high school classmates invited me out on Friday night and since last time I was in town we went to Rossville, this time the choice was Emmett. Having just driven through there a couple days before, I knew they actually had at least two bars. The last time I drank alcohol in Emmett was probably on the streets for some benefit concert, but I hear they don’t have such events anymore.
Michelle and Autumn picked me up around 9 PM and we headed north. It was chilly and I was wearing a jacket, which was unusual even for Kansas weather. There weren’t many cars in the parking lot when we arrived at Boomerang Bar & Grill, the newly christened name for a bar that had been known as Wiggie’s Bedspread during my time growing up in St. Marys. It had recently changed hands back to the original owner after a stint as Rooster’s. The three of us walking in doubled the population of the bar to a whopping eight people. Clearly it was a slow night, even for tiny Emmett.
We stayed there for a couple beers. I had started to worry when I saw nothing but Budweiser products behind the coolers and no sign of any other liquor. Luckily the bartender procured a bottle of Boulevard Wheat from below the bar and a wave of relief washed over me. Sometimes it is difficult to be such a beer snob. A few more people drifted in but rumor had it that the action was at the other bar in town, Ruff Necks.
Located on Main Street, Ruff Necks has been described as an “Indian bar” due to the prevalence of Native Americans who make their way from the nearby Potawatomi Reservation. When we got there, there must have been about 25 people and the karaoke had already started. It was obvious that this was the place to be seen in Emmett on this evening. My friends knew several people there, but I didn’t recognize anyone. Only one person’s last name was familiar to me.
This bar did not have a beer I cared to drink, so I switched to mixed drinks. Autumn, Michelle and I chatted with some of their friends and a couple people we just met there. One guy was from Whiting, where I’d been just a couple days ago. Most people appeared to be from the Emmett area. There was karaoke, occasional dancing and a pool game going on. It was a relatively small bar, which probably made for a more festive atmosphere with the 20-30 people crowded within its walls. There was enough room to move, though, so it was not really crowded.
Out of the blue, Michelle plunked down a dollar and the bartender brought out a staple gun. They both looked at me, but Michelle could tell I was completely clueless. Then she motioned to look up, where I noticed several other dollar bills stapled to the ceiling and walls, all with names or messages written in permanent marker over the bill. So, with the tradition I followed suit and affixed the legal tender above the bar and officially became part of Emmett history.
I had been warned that I would be made to dance, and sure enough, later in the evening, Autumn yelled for me to come up and she, Michelle and a couple other people were starting a line dance known as the Cuban Shuffle, which I later learned is actually the song “Cupid Shuffle” by a guy who goes by the name of Cupid. I proved my lack of coordination, but managed to stay afoot and it seemed less embarrassing as the time I did the Macarena in Kenora, Ontario. It was actually fun.
We left around closing time and headed back to St. Marys, just after witnessing a verbal spat between a man who had been quiet the whole evening and a woman who’d been at the previous bar. I was pleased to have made it home without witnessing a fight or making a fool of myself. So I really did barhop in Emmett, even though there were only two places to go. I will forever be immortalized there, unless they remove the dollars to pay the utility bills.
Edit: Unfortunately, Ruff Necks burned down about a week later due to an errant firecracker.
Note: this content was originally posted on my old Blogger site “The Nystagmus Zone, Volume 3.”