The first thing in the human personality that dissolves in alcohol is dignity.
The Elbo Room
Let me say this about that.
A year or so ago, I wrote a series of blogs extolling the virtues of one of my favorite subjects - ‘Sleazy Bars’. Hanging out in a sleazy bar is like hands-on research for all the evils you hear about when you go to church. In fact, it is rumored that Moses did not receive the 10 Commandments from God during a little mountain-climbing expedition to Mount Sinai, but assembled these moral imperatives from notes taken while slamming tequila shots in a sleazy bar.
But I digress.
I’ve had significant reader feedback on these five articles – mostly from people claiming that my selection of ‘The Sleaziest Bars In the World’ excluded their favorites. With so many sleazy bars – and so little time – I simply ignored this input as superfluous to the judgement of a renowned sleazy bar expert, such as myself. That is, until a friend of mine reminded me of a bar in Fort Lauderdale, Florida that played an integral role in the ruination of my youth.
“The Elbo Room”
Like many great sleazy bars, The Elbo Room is sort of an indoor-outdoor affair with the front wall opening onto Highway A1A and the beach, and the side wall opening to Las Olas Blvd. There is no real need for doors, as I have never seen the place closed.
The Elbo Room has sat on the beach in Fort Lauderdale since the late 30′s. I believe the last time it was painted or the last time the floor was mopped was also in the late 30′s. Even members of the most vicious biker gangs do not go to the bathroom alone in this place, for fear of being attacked by the carnivorous Palmetto bugs that patrol the area.
Patrons of The Elbo Room are a calamitous community of ne’er-do-wells whose sole purpose in life is raising Hell. As I understand it, they are searching for an undiscovered deadly sin, around which an eleventh commandment can be written. If you are a regular at The Elbo Room, you can be counted among a class of citizen completely devoid of socially redeeming value, and likely have a liver made of fiberglass.
The dress code at The Elbo Room defies description in the English language. Basically, if you have applied a little suntan lotion, you are “dressed”. I once saw a curvaceous young lady at the bar that, from the rear, looked to be completely nude. When she turned around, I saw she was wearing a thong so tiny that it would be too small to be used as an eye-patch for a one-eyed pygmy.
I don’t ever recall having a bad time at The Elbo Room. Then again, there are a lot of times at The Elbo Room that I don’t recall at all. There was one night, however, that I remember vividly. And as it turns out, it was the last time I was there – out of necessity.
The year was 1985 and the time was about 2:00am in the morning. I was among a group of guys standing around the bar drinking ‘Kamikazes’ and exchanging jokes with the bartender. Then, a guy casually walks into the bar, dressed in a coat and tie…….. (Now take a moment and let this soak in. In The Elbo Room, wearing shoes is considered overdressed and this guy was wearing a tie)….. The bartender grabbed his tie and informed him that he would have to leave if he did not remove it. The guy refused, saying that he worked nights and was required to wear a tie. While the bartender was still holding the guy’s tie, I reached over the bar, grabbed a butcher’s knife the bartender used to chop lemons and cut the guy’s tie off.
Hey, it was just a joke. I thought it was funny.
The guy freaked-out and ran out of the bar. The bartender explained that the guy was really a friend of his and was just joking about taking his tie off. Further, he suggested that I get the hell out of the bar before the guy returned. As it turns out, the guy was a police detective and worked the vice squad during the night shift.
Oh, crap !!
Being arrested on charges of being drunk and disorderly was commonplace at this establishment, but assaulting a police officer with a butcher’s knife was beyond acceptable behavior, even for a dive as sleazy as The Elbo Room.
I beat a hasty retreat and never returned to the bar. I heard weeks later that the police officer returned with several uniformed cops and interviewed the remaining patrons about the incident. Fortunately, everyone was so drunk that they gave the police a half dozen descriptions of the ‘tie assasin’ that ranged from a balding Mexican pimp to a Chinese transvestite in a feathered hat. I could not have been identified in a police line-up made up of myself and farm animals.
I don’t know what the ‘statute-of-limitations’ is for the murder of a neck-tie, but if it occurs sometime soon, I plan to renew my membership among the ‘great unwashed’ at The Elbo Room.
And, that’s all I have to say about that.