My husband wants to be a cowboy. Seriously. In real life, he is a computer geek. But secretly he longs to ride the open range unencumbered by the pressures of modern life (mainly his wife who keeps insisting he visit new little dives). So when the Iowa Roadie spotted a new bar and grill by the name of “Stampedes” in downtown Mason City, it seemed to be a win-win situation.

Per Iowa Roadie rule #2, we moseyed up to the bar and sat down. (Recall that the bar typically has the best service and allows you the most opportunity to visit with other patrons.) My husband ordered a beer, and I embarrassed him by ordering a “dirty girl scout.” Now I confess, it is a tad awkward to order a beverage which seems to defile such an upstanding group of young ladies. But this drink tastes like a thin mint. A thin mint! Totally worth feeling like I’m part of an undercover Dateline sting when I order.

Perhaps the bartender, a woman of about 60, was equally uncomfortable as she gave me a blank look. (In hindsight, that look may have contained some horror and judgement as well.) Undeterred in my quest for a cookie-flavored cocktail, I asked her fellow bartender Chad (who I later discovered was the owner) if he could make the infamous “dirty girl scout” drink. He, too, looked at me blankly. (Again, I may have also detected a bit of judgement and horror in his reaction as well.) So I pulled out my iPhone and googled the recipe for him.

Note to aspiring bartenders…A “dirty girl scout” is made with Bailey’s Irish cream, creme de cocoa, and creme de menthe. There are ingredient substitutions that can be made and still create this mint cookie-flavored beverage. Thank you to Owner Chad for applying his newly-gained google wisdom and making my scandalous-sounding drink. I even insisted Owner Chad try a sip (again I sensed a little judgement). But seriously? Who can resist a thin mint ANYTHING, and even he had to admit “it wasn’t bad.” (An extreme understatement, in my opinion, although I believe his lack of enthusiasm had something to do with his concern about sounding like a pedophile.)

OR perhaps Owner Chad was upset that Female Bartender was not keeping up with drink orders that were way less complicated than mine. (Note…Before I proceed, I want to insert a disclaimer that the following observations are not meant to reflect negatively on Stampede’s as a whole. I will endorse Stampede’s as a destination worth trying. Their “stampede burger” looked absolutely incredible. Instead what I am about to describe is simply a narrative account of the Iowa Roadie’s experience on one particular evening….and likely the script for a new “bars gone wild” television series.)

As I was saying, Female Bartender was behind with her drink orders. Suddenly one of the other bar customers walked behind the bar and took it upon himself to begin making drinks. Female Bartender took great offense to this, and left her post to take a seat next to us. What ensued next was like a bad reality show. She and the Customer Making Drinks started verbally bantering. (By bantering, I mean calling one another mean, offensive names that made “dirty girl scout” sound quite tame.) Female Bartender proceeded to tell Owner Chad that she is not taking this (insert bad word), and storms out of the bar. However before actually leaving, she tells Customer Making Drinks that she has friends that will “kick the (insert another bad word here)” out of him and his friends. Did I NOT mention this was like a bad reality show? I wondered when someone would exclaim that we were on candid camera. (And not the Dateline underage sting episode for degrading the girl scouts.)

Female Bartender finally exits the bar, but now Owner Chad is left with no help. Someone orders a Bloody Mary, and Owner Chad asks if anyone knows how to make one. (He obviously had already forgotten my mastery google skills.) Luckily Customer Making Drinks did not need to rely on a cell phone. Before Siri could provide yet another drink recipe, Customer Making Drinks was pouring tomato juice into a glass and searching for the seasoning salt. (Both crucial components of a top notch bloody mary.) Despite being offered a bartending job on the spot, Customer Making Drinks respectfully declined and returned to his seat… leaving Owner Chad once again in a pickle. (Pickle juice is another ingredient in a good bloody mary.)

Besides losing his bartender, Owner Chad confessed that Stampede’s had opened just five days ago, and the electronic point of sale system (aka electric cash register) had not yet arrived. Therefore all customer transactions were being figured by hand. Considering that I could google a “dirty girl scout” on my phone, it was sadly ironic that receipts were being added on paper by a handheld calculator. Owner Chad was overwhelmed by the volume of this task now coupled with his sudden bartending responsibilities.

Have you ever come across an accident and known that you should look away? But because of the horrific nature of the situation, you can’t tear your eyes from the scene? That was the situation unfolding before us. Poor Owner Chad. He truly seemed lost, and all I wanted was to give him a big hug and tell him it would be ok. (I restrained however as I felt that action may be even creepier than my drink order.)

My fellow bar counter patrons were equally sympathetic and offered kind words of support in an attempt to energize a traumatized Owner Chad (who also operates a trucking business). I personally enjoyed the additional time to meet and visit with other Stampede visitors. For example, on my left was a younger gentleman whose phone ringtone was reminiscent of the original PacMan video game. He explained that he really enjoys the “vintage” video games. I told him I remembered when PacMan came out, and he replied that he had not even been born until nearly a decade later. Now it was I who felt vintage.

Hey! I wonder… if I order the dirty girl scout again, could I get a senior discount with that?

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