Every small town has/had a version of Copperfield’s. You know the place, good food, ten-cent-wing night and lots of booze. It transformed from a family restaurant into a dance club from Thursday to Saturday. There was hot, charismatic waitresses and bartenders; big, huggable bouncers (well, I’m sure someone hugged them); and a great DJ that put the cock in cocky (and anything else with two tits and a heartbeat). It was a very comfortable place to drink for an entire generation and my second home for a few years.
Let’s go back in time.
When I was sixteen or seventeen, I worked as a busboy and bar porter there and it facilitated my foray into manhood. I partied with the rest of the staff after work, and I felt like part of a greater thing. I thought that putting on that Copperfields shirt meant that I was part of the elite team. People didn’t mess with you if you had that shirt on, because everyone had each other’s back. Nobody messed with the waitresses, without getting their head bounced off the center post of the front doors as they were being “escorted” out, or getting surreptitiously punched by a busboy as the doorman was carrying them across the floor. You just felt safe there (or at least I did), but alas, everyone has to move on sometime.
Fast forward a couple years to my nineteenth birthday. I had a double shot of Jack Daniels and a couple of beer for lunch, followed by half a dozen rye and gingers for dessert. I then headed for Copperfield’s for supper and some libations. Because it was my birthday, and the fact that I knew the staff, I was treated to several happy birthday shooters. I was doing pretty good as I didn’t puke until Ferg gave me the “Formula One” (Thanks pal, but I still say it was Scope).
So there I was, happily shit faced, and sitting with a friend, when I decided I might need to see a man about a horse. As I swerved my way to the washroom, a small guy, about my size, said “How’s it going there, Goggles?”
I was taken aback. Being one who was never into taking shit from anybody, I replied, “That’s really cool to make fun of drunk people that have obvious physical impairments. I guess when you don’t have the mental capacity to be a decent human being, these are the things that make you feel good about yourself.”
While he was trying to figure out the insult I had directed his way, I turned around and set my glasses on the table and remarked, “The goggles are off now asshole.”
That was when his rather large-necked, tough-looking friend stepped in and explained how I was going to have to fight him first if I wanted to get to his much smaller friend.
This seemed unfair to me but my mom didn’t raise me to complain about life not being fair so I agreed to beat up the two of them and then took a couple of steps back to get a better run at this situation. Right about then, one of my bouncer buddies came and picked me up off the ground, reminding me that I was five and a half feet tall, 145 pounds, and as much as I claimed invincibility, that I was in fact mortal.
All of those things may have been true but that didn’t stop me from telling Big Neck that he was lucky the bouncer had me, which seemed like the right thing to say at the time.
It turned out to be the exact opposite of the right thing to say at the time. Big Neck ran up and started smashing me about the head and neck with his club-like fists. Luckily for me, my friend could walk fast and Big Neck seemed unable to walk and fight at the same time, so the blows weren’t as hard as I thought they would be.
I cheered joyously as the other doormen threw him out and came back to give me a stern talking to. They told me that he was waiting outside, and I had best go sit down and wait for my ride. I guess I must have followed instructions.
The next morning I woke up in my buddy’s pickup truck. It seems I slept through the rest of my time at the bar, the after party, and the ride home. I’m still indebted to my friends for preventing my early demise, and most of all to Joey, for making sure I made it home safe with my goggles, and for not letting any hot chicks rape me while I was too drunk to remember it.