Last night was at the Red Carpet. As the name suggests, the Red Carpet is the classiest establishment in all of Hood River. The host won’t even look at you if you don’t have reservations, a sawbuck hardly buys you a glass of wine, and the tablecloths have thread counts in the thousands. They’re so soft and supple that you can’t help but put your elbows on them. Which is unfortunate because every time you do, the waiter comes by and fines you a dollar.
I should mention that you do get one warning, but after that it gets real expensive, real fast. My only reason for being there was that Jesse had planned a surprise birthday party for her friend Andrea, and I happened to weasel my way onto the guest list at the last moment.
Okay, I’ll level with you. It was nothing like that. The Red Carpet is actually a tried and true redneck bar. Think of the D&D in Bend, the Reef in Duluth, the Hilltop in Hanover. Now think of them smaller and without the charm.
When I told people that we were going to be partying at the Red Carpet, they were horrified, and demanded to know why, in the wide wonderful universe of drinking establishments, we were going to the Red Carpet. I mean, it’s one thing to rev up the night and accidentally find yourself at the Red Carpet, but this evening was obviously premeditated. Why the Red Carpet? Why, indeed. It was a legitimate question, and one that we answered with three words:
Five dollar pitchers.
Yeah buddy. Five bucks and you’re hooked up with an entire pitcher of delicious Rainier. And these weren’t no sissy pitchers with false bottoms, neither. These were the real deal, a sturdy column of beer from the table to the rim. What’s more, every night the Red Carpet offers specials on exotic drinks. Last night’s special was a $2.00 Rum and Coke. One can hardly begin to speculate what sort of crazy things are in a drink like that!
I mean, for how classy the Red Carpet isn’t, it’s still pretty classy. The tables are wrapped in textured vinyl, with cigarette burns on top and chewed gum underneath. The covering not only keeps your pint from slipping and sliding around, which can be really frustrating after you’ve invested $10 in drinks, but also keeps the kids from starting a fierce game of quarters. The kids find a way around this, usually by oozing into the front room.
While the front room does have amenities, like video poker and slot machines, that are absent from the back room, the back room has a personality all its own. The pool table only costs fifty cents a game, which comes in real handy when Jesse grabs all the racked balls and shoves them down a pocket for reasons evident only to herself. A lamp advertising Schlitz Malt Liquor, also known as Blue Bull, hangs over the pool table. It comes in 40s, and we never confirmed whether the Red Carpet actually carried Schlitz, or if the lamp was left over from days of yore.
You can read a number of reviews of Schlitz at www.40ozmaltliquor.com. Most of the reviews were written as the reviewer was still recovering from an evening of testing 40s. This results in comments like “That shit is designed for 60 year old Korea veterans,” and “…the smell of it is equivalent to a locker room of sweaty athletes.” It’s enough to make a man drop everything and run out for a couple of 40s!
…but not until he finishes reading this story, which begins, “My Tuesday night last week included urinating on a dumpster with homeless guys.”
The back room also has a metal bucket hanging from the ceiling. A sign, written with an angry Sharpie, demands that if a pool cue or pool ball hits the floor, you owe it 25 cents. With most of us being opposed to taxation without representation, we chose to not, in fact, throw quarters in the bucket. Instead, we threw quarters into a quadruple shot glass in the front room. For whatever reason, they were playing songs from Primus’ Brown Album.
The bar was in the front room, and it was stocked with chainsmoking women. A floroescent yellow sign behind the bar said they sold Breathsavers for 75 cents, and Rolaids for a dollar. It’s only 25 cents, and you get so much more! Another sign proclaimed that girl bartenders rule and guy bartenders drool. The whiteboard by the front door said our bartender’s name was Tammy, and it also said that if your dad’s cell number has nothing to do with a telephone, you might be a redneck.
Finally, there was the awesome cake that Jesse had fixed up. Andrea has a dachshund named Sonny, so Jesse made a cake shaped like a sun with a wiener dog standing on it. The problem was, the cake didn’t look anything like a sun, and when we added new rays to it, we had run out of white frosting and had to use chocolate. Though the cake itself was rather confusing, the dog turned out beautifully, with the body of a banana, feet of black licorice, and ears of Fruit Leather.
Here we see the dachshund in its natural habitat, complete with Coors Light and a disembodied hand:
Moments later, all hell broke loose and the cake was severely violated.