Would You Like a Bun With Your Sausage?

I don’t go out to clubs. I am not a clubber. The thought of donning something sexy and going out to dance at 11:00 on, say, a Thursday night rarely, if ever, enters my mind. What does enter my mind? When is The Office going to be on? Should I eat all these M&Ms? I should go write something but this InStyle Magazine is just too compelling to put down.

But this weekend all caution was thrown into the wind that blows over Brainerd, Minnesota. Or was it Nisswa? No matter. It was a girls’ cabin weekend in celebration of a friend’s wedding, what in modern parlance has come to be known as a Bachelorette Party.

Quick: How does one identify a bachelorette party out on the town? Look for a group of women, often varying widely in age and looks (depending upon if the bride-to-be felt the pressure to invite her leather-skinned aunts, the cousin with eczema, etc.) all fancied up and moving as one living, working cell, the nucleus of which is a woman wearing a veil. Or a t-shirt that says “Suck For a Buck” and a necklace of Life Savers. Or holding a handful of Tootsie Roll suckers.

What you may not know about a bachelorette party is that it has the potential, particularly in rural areas, of being a money-maker. The bride and her maid of honor stalk the bar with their candy wares, offering the privilege of sucking some candy to other patrons for the price of $1. One married man I met this weekend said his wife earned over $500 at her bachelorette party, enabling them to upgrade their honeymoon suite. Apparently, this is the stuff memories are made of.

Our party started at Pirate’s Cove miniature golf off Highway 371 in Brainerd. After completing 18 holes while swapping gift-wrapped t-shirts, we opened our prizes, which then became our outfits for the night. One friend ended up with a shirt that said, “I’m Adopted;” another donned a Clay Aitken t-shirt. The bride wore a wonderful rayon/silk creation featuring brightly colored hot air balloons.

Then we went to Zorba’s (Z’s.)

Z’s is a seemingly popular chain of bars in the Brainerd area. Upstairs, there is a bar with all the usual trappings – carnival-sized popcorn popper, video games that involve shooting deer or driving race cars and many flat-screened TVs showing incredibly boring sporting events. You seat yourself, you order your food at the bar.

Z’s specializes in mediocre pizza and Mexican. Our pizza had cheese on it in that liquid-but-not-yet cooked stage and tasted, amazingly, like nothing. In thinking back on it, I can’t conjure up any specific taste. Nothing zesty. No delicious cheese. No memorable crust; it was middling thickness, which is death for a pizza. Pizza crust should be thicker and chewy or thin and crisped. At middle thickness a person might as well be eating a warm slice of bread.

It’s incredibly fun to be an urban food snob.

We dined next to two other bachelorette parties also feasting on plates of nachos and tasteless pizza. Both brides were about 21-years-old; one looked as if the option of running out and hitching a ride down to the Florida panhandle to escape her fate was becoming a distinct possibility. We were interrupted three times during dinner by men stopping over to ask if we planned to stay for dancing.

Two of the men were employees of Z’s trying to assure there would be some estrogen in the room that night; another was a member of a bachelor party who told the long-winded tale of his party going off to some casino but who were now, at that very moment, en route to Z’s. We weren’t going to leave, were we? This was THE place to be, wasn’t it?

We wanted to know how old these guys were. Wouldn’t he be more comfortable approaching the bachelorette party next to ours that seemed to have an age, height and weight requirement in addition to a dress code? (Wear your skimpy black top and a tight pair of jeans – when we get done here we’re going to go off and fill in for the models on Deal or No Deal).

Our new friend assured us that the men varied in age all the way from 19 to 28. Nineteen?

“He’s like McLovin’,” the man said. “He’s just like him.”

“Way to sell him,” I said. “I’m sure he’d be so grateful to hear you talk him up that way.”

“No, he doesn’t mind.”

We decided to stay. Sometimes, in foreign territory, the path of least resistance is the best. Besides, we did want to dance and had no clue as to where else dancing might take place, other than at a dive bar in front of a jukebox that only had Creedence Clearwater Rivival and AC/DC on it.

We descended the steps to Z’s “nightclub”. It looked like the oversized rec room belonging to a family who had come into money at some point during the 1970s but lost it, so were unable to make updates. Every inch of wall was covered in wood paneling. The carpet was black and sucked your feet into it in spots, as if it held years of beer spills and rail drinks.

Z’s nightclub is the place where you drink “rail” in a plastic cup. In fact, imagine two Brainerd guys reaching the end of the work day on a Friday afternoon. One asks the other, “What are you doing this weekend?” The other replies, “Gonna drink rail at Z’s.”

The early dancing consisted of classic rock alternated with 80s pop/rock. There was a pattern: three classic rock, two 80s. There were very obviously holding on to the “good stuff” for later.

Right away we became familiar with Lady Ecstasy. Technically, she was with one of the (five) bachelorette parties (I think she belonged with Skank Bride, who wore a white tank top and no bra). Lady Ecstasy was in her own, highly sexualized world of dance. Her act consisted of rolling on the floor and spreading her legs, lifting her shirt up, dirty dancing, putting her heads in men’s crotches, her ass in their crotches, and dry humping an enormous fan, all with a spacey look on her face. At first it was amazing to see someone with so much stamina; later on it became sickening and even later I started to worry that we were about to appear in the sequel to The Accused.

I am convinced she was a stripper in her other life; even ecstasy wouldn’t help me pull off some of those moves. The bouncers found her highly entertaining and, when she got out of control (every minute or so) simply patted her on the head or shook a finger at her. They treated her as if she was a four-year-old trying to steal an extra cookie after dinner instead of an adult woman simulating sex with every pot-bellied rube who lumbered up and grabbed her.

And there were many of them. At one point there might have been a line. Because as the night wore on, Z’s basement-rec room-dance club quickly became headquarters for Sausage Fest 2008. It was as if every male in the heart of Minnesota had jumped from their fishing boats, cabins, golf carts and monster trucks to descend upon us, looking for buns on which they could rest their sausages for the night.

If I were a manger at Z’s, I would class the place up. Lady Ecstasy would be asked to leave in the care of  her skank friends. The carpet would be steam-cleaned. I would fire the DJ. I would say bent-rimmed baseball hats were no longer allowed.

And Z’s would quickly go out of business. Because the clientele of Z’s clearly loves it there, that much is obvious. It’s fun to dance to “Thriller” again. Well, it’s fun to watch women dance to “Thriller” again. And drink shots from plastic Dixie Cups. And drink lots of beer. And look at boobs. Just sit there and gaze at boobs. There are worse ways to spend an evening.

I lasted about 3 1/2 hours and then really need to go back to our cabin and concentrate on getting my hearing back. The bride and some others from our party closed the place down though, and that’s what truly matters. Even if they did have trouble leaving because the bouncer at the door grabbed them and wanted them to show him their boobs for some cheap, plastic beads. He was a retired math teacher, which makes me very afraid about what might have gone on in his classroom. And he had so clearly lost his grasp on where we were located.

No, this is not New Orleans. This is Brainerd, pal. You can keep your beads. Just pass me another rail cocktail.