Downtown Drifter

Sometimes a dude just needs to have a beer before he finds his way home. Today was that kind of day for me. I'll admit I called Wes to see if he wanted to check out Crosstown Station, but I didn't push too hard when he said he was going to go work out. I didn't want to stay out long and for some reason drinking with Wes always turns into a "well I'll just have one more" situation. I didn't need that, I'm going out tomorrow night for drinks with coworkers so I certainly didn't need to drink more than 2 beers. This would be the perfect time to check out Crosstown Station and chat with a bartender about business (remember, I'm always working for you, our dear reader).

So I drive the 3 blocks over to Crosstown Station at 15something McGee (across the street from the Star's big green glass building). I was able to park meter free right across the street from the entrance. It didn't look like anyone was around as I walked up to the door. I tried to pull the door open and it was locked. Seriously, who's closed on a Wednesday. It wasn't even that early, like 4:30 or something. I was flummoxed, I had already decided I wanted a drink before I went home. Where should I go?

I pondered the question as I tried to figure out how to get across the highway and in the general direction I needed to go. I decided I'd try out the Martini Loft in the Aladdin Hotel. It seemed perfect for a loner in search of a drink. So I made my way over to 12th and Wyandotte. I then realized that parking was going to be a hassle, there is nowhere to park over there except for across Barney Allis Plaza and I'll be frank, I didn't feel like walking 2 blocks for a drink. I only had about 45 minutes as it was. So I turned right on 12th and headed east to the Studio Restaurant and Bar.

I have only been to the Studio Restaurant and Bar once, but I've written about 3 posts on it and Wes has written one. It's a well covered topic and I was fairly certain I wouldn't enjoy my time at the Studio. But, I was kind of curious because we still get comments on our posts about the place so it has some sort of following. Just like last time I was there, I was able to park across the street from the place. I blew 50 cents on a parking meter for 36 minutes of parking. I knew I had probably overinvested in parking. As I walked up to the door, I noticed that it looked pretty deserted. When I walked in the door, I saw that it was deserted. I was the only customer in the bar or restaurant. My presence was not noticed by the 2 people behind the bar until I purposely slammed the barstool to the floor. I startled the poor bartender lady. I ordered a Boddington's, which didn't taste very good and I question whether it was actually a Boddington's, and made some small talk. I tried to butter her up by telling her how much McFadden's sucks and she agreed that it sucked. I'm not going to lie, I couldn't wait to leave. I still had time to try another place.

I drive down Walnut every night on my way home from work and I pass this place called The Stables Bar and Grill. I've never seen anybody enter or exit the place. But there is usually a pretty large crowd of people waiting right outside at the bus stop. I was able to find a parking place on the street about a half block away. I parked the car and made the small trek up to the Stables. I didn't want to make the same mistake I had made at the Studio so I peeked in the window to see if anyone was in there. I saw coats hanging on the back of barstools so at least they had some customers. I went in. Have you ever walked into a place and immediately become fearful that they don't take debit/credit cards? That's what it's like to walk into The Stables. It would kind of remind one of a small town VFW. Sitting at the bar was 5 people. I believe all 5 of these people were on their third marriage the year I was born. The two guys at the end of the bar were upset about the sad state of dog racing today. It seems that even really long shot dogs only pay out at most $1000. You see, there's just no one out there betting the dogs so there's no money in the till for bigger payouts.

One guy, we'll call him Big Shot because he bought the other 3 at the bar a round of drinks. I don't know how well he knew the other 2, my guess is not well, but I think he wanted some company and these other 2 didn't seem to be in the position to turn down a free drink. All 3 of them reminded me of the homeless dudes who used to sleep in the parking lot of mine and Wes' old business in downtown Wichita.

The TV at the bar was playing the Sirius music channel 50's rock n' roll. One of the 2 free drinkers, we'll call her Songbird, would break into song trying to sing along to whatever song was playing on the station. Songbird was particularly fond of recounting stories from her high school days that had to do with that song. I'm sure the folks heading to McFadden's on any given night might make fun of me for being able to recount sitting in my best friend's Camaro drinking booze and listening to Sinead O'Connor sing "Nothing Compares 2 You", but come on, she's still alive and kicking at least.

Songbird and Big Shot had a fun conversation about Big Shot's high school cross country running career. Then, I believe, I was witness to the first ever over seventy year old black woman hitting on an over seventy year old white man who hasn't shaved in over 2 years and doesn't wear his teeth to a bar in the history of Kansas City. Yes I do consider myself lucky. When she asked him if he had ever been married he responded with a resounding "No, no never". Then, once again I'm speculating, made up a story on the spot about how he had a wedding ceremony in Thailand with a Thai girl and he loves her to this day. They're "divorced" now but he doesn't consider it a real marriage because the US didn't sanction it. I'll say it right now, I'm not going to vote for anyone for President who won't sanction the beautiful made up marriage of Big Shot and Ching Mai.

The other guy at the bar, the one who received a free drink but, to my knowledge, said even less than I did (I believe the only thing I said the entire time was "Newcastle"), was closest to me. About 10 minutes into my stay at the Stables, this guy, let's call him Weezer, lit up a Winston. I can't quite describe the sound ol' Weezer made on every exhale, but I was a little concerned someone was going to have to call 911 in the next couple of minutes. I think it's completely possible that the reason he didn't say anything the entire time was because he left his vibrating voice box thing on the bus on the way over.

I didn't make eye contact with anyone in the bar in the time I was there. I believe I was the youngest guy to walk through The Stables' doors since Weezer walked in in 1972. As I looked around the ambienceless room I noticed a UMB promotional calendar on the wall. I was able to surmise that today was the 9th of January because they had methodically marked a big black X through each day of January up to the 9th, like they're counting down the days until they die. If I'd had big enough balls I would have flipped through the remaining months to see if there was a day in June marked Death Day. But I was busy plotting my escape in case they didn't take credit cards. With the previous meter payment I was down to a precise $1.96, not even half the cost of my Newcastle. Everybody else at the bar was paying with cash and I didn't see one of those wonderful Visa stickers on the door. I was pretty worried I was going to look like a giant schmuck by not being able to pay my tab. I already had heard Songbird say "them young folk sure are getting brave coming in here". I didn't want to be the one to turn them against young folk.

Luckily The Stables does take Visa. If I had known that earlier I may have enjoyed my time there a little more. I'll be honest, I'm not going to go back. For our over 70 readers I highly recommend The Stables, the same way I would recommend Furr's Cafeteria or Bingo at church or the medical marijuana dispensary. If my grandma was still alive and looking for a night on the town, I may point her towards The Stables, who knows maybe Big Shot could have been my new step grandfather.

I would like to say it's okay to stray off the beaten path in downtown and I feel that's true if you're in the Crossroads District, but in downtown proper, it's still a little sketchy. I don't feel that you're in danger at any time, unless you're drinking in a parking garage, but there's not a whole lot of great unknown watering holes downtown.

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