Whenever Sue McGleno asks me if I have plans for the weekend, I cringe. It's not that I don't like her, but revealing that I was planning to lay on the couch with 4 dogs usually won't impress her. A couple years ago, Valentines fell on a Friday night so I was told to prepare to embark on a romantic adventure.
At first, this sounds enticing, but the older i get I've realized that sometimes middle aged men and women have a different perception of romance.
Anyways, with the same twinkle in her eye that Mary had when she revealed to Joesph that she was with child, Sue McGleno could hardly contain herself as she blurted out "We are going away for the weekend to the Medina Ballroom!"
If you don't know about this joint, it is on the outskirts west of Mpls, like an equator between cosmopolitan living and savages.The place is huge. It has an event hall the size of a stadium and a tacky hotel next to it that would rival Norman Bates digs.This is a venue that bands hire out after their lead singer OD, and they haven't had a current hit on the radio for 20 years.
Throughout the day epiphanies were explained to me, like "Oh....and we will get to dance all night! Boogie Wonderland will be there all evening."
For those of you from Guam or Madrid, Boogie Wonderland is one of those bands that has 62 members in it.They dress up in 70's attire and rotate singing songs from a set that usually last 9 days.
Well, on the night of the dealio, I pulled into the parking lot and decided we should check in, get something to eat at the "progressive in house restaurant", and then go and dance the night away.
OMG! My room had stains on the carpet like Jim Bob changed the oil from his Trans Am in there w/o placing cardboard on the carpet, but worse yet....my TV was the size of a Nike shoe box, and these Cretans didn't even offer HD.
When we went to the restaurant, the place was packed. Our server must of been 20, and she was smoking hot. I asked her "Hey kid, how can such a pretty young person be working on Valentines instead of celebrating?"
The server thumbed through her tablet while informing me "You're not from around here. If you were you'd know that there is nobody worth loving. Can I start you off with drinks?"
When I looked at the menu, i swear to Caesar they had 2900 options. I hate when concepts do that. You never know if you order something like calamari of key lime cheese cake if it's been in there freezer for months. When the server came back, her and Sue McGleno did their thing, and then I just asked if she could give me w/e was the house special.
My trust in her opinion expedited our bonding experience, at this point she seemed to ignore the other 8-10 tables in her section and she leaned onto my table top "Our Executive Chef really takes pride in or Hawaiian Salad. I'm sure thats what he would recommend."
Funny, I've been servicing the Twin Cities hospitality scene for decades, and if my recollection isn't foggy, I think even 10 years ago we only had around a dozen EXECUTIVE CHEFS in the entire metro. Now....everywhere I turn an Executive Chef seems to pop up - Dairy Queen, Apple Bee's, Lunds / Byerlys, and even some of the hipster coffee shop! Polish Jesus save my soul!
So after a lengthy discussion where i was trying to dodge Sue McGleno's questions about feelings, like a soldier walks through a mind field, our server came back and proudly set my plate in front of me.
LOL.....in a million years i'd, or...how will I convey this? My Hawaiian salad was Dole lettuce slapped onto a plate with 8 wedges of those Mandarin oranges that came out of the can ( $10's says your Grandmother has a can of these in her pantry as we speak)a couple nuts and coconut flakes loosely strewn across the top.
H'mmm, so this is the Executive Chefs pride dish huh? I mean seriously, even in most dives a Sous wouldn't have touched this, I mean not even a line cook would.....OK I regress, but the men and women who really are Executive Chef's work hard for that title and if (OK- i feel a tangent coming on so I'll step off this soap box and move on.)
When we walked into the dance hall. I'll bet there was easily 1000 people. No embellishment, usually when somebody tells me 1000 people were there, I secretly tell myself that that means maybe 600 peeps were at he joint, but there really was a thousand people there, most of them coupled up.
You got your cocktails from bartenders who were serving weak a** drinks from those long card tables that are in the basement at your church. Sue McGleno ordered a Long Island Ice Tea, but i had nothing. I didn't want my senses altered until I realized what I was up against.
The dance floor was the size of a football field, and was filled with people that were twice our age. Dude, how creepy is it when you see pocket fulls of 80 years old gentlemen clutching the buttocks of their 50 year old pay date while a disco ball bounces colorful images off their shame? I didn't know if I should laugh or cry, but i was saved by Boogie Wonderland. They were in the midst of playing Purple Rain. In the band which is pretty much made up of middle aged white guys, a hot young chick in mini pants, and a black dude who looked like James Earl Jones who sported a cross necklace that was about the size of a rake.
The James Earl Jones guy was singing. If you ever saw the movie, remember when Prince gets all melodic and goes "Ooooooooh Oooooooh Ooooooh - Oooooooh Ooooooooh Oooooooh - Ooooooh Ooooooooh Ooooooooh?" Then every body in the audience of the movie slowly started swaying one arm in the air, like a waving motion, well I did that from the dance floor, and I'll bet I was 80 yards from the stage, and James Earl Jones guy sent "Solid Love" to me and called me brother. Sue McGleno rolled her eyes, she wasn't impressed. I tried to handle her like the 80 year old guys were handling their dates, but was told that would require another Long Island Tea first.