Have you ever had an experience that you just can’t describe? Do you know what I’m talking about? You really can’t differentiate if it’s good, bad or just plain deranged? Like those “bean boozled” jelly beans. The package mixes pure deliciousness like juicy peach and chocolate pudding with horrific flavors like booger, barf and moldy cheese. It’s kind of like a candy Russian Roulette. Coconut…or canned dog food? And part of the fun is the element of surprise and repulsion you experience when eating a jelly bean that tastes like you dug it out of a sewer pipe. See what I mean…good, bad or deranged?

Let me describe it another way. Do you know what an oxymoron is? (Who am I kidding? I blog about dive bars…perhaps my expectations regarding readers’ vocabulary are a bit high.) An oxymoron is a figure of speech that contradicts itself. Put another way..it’s two words that are opposites but used together in a single statement. For example, bittersweet or jumbo shrimp. Got it? (And you’re welcome for the bonus English lesson. Prepare to be the life of the party with those newly acquired rhetorical skills.)

What I’m trying to say is that there are experiences that you just can’t describe with a single adjective. And if you use more than one, they may actually negate one another…so that at the end of the night, you’re really not sure how the evening should be remembered. Such was the case with a recent Iowa Roadie adventure that began at The Place 2B in Mason City.

Someone once asked me how the Iowa Roadie chooses her excursions. I’d like to say that there is an analytical nature to my decision, but if you’ve read this blog before, you know that’s a lie. I look for old school beer signs and places seemingly devoid of charm and culture. (No offense to previous Iowa Roadie stops. Lack of sophistication makes for a lot of fun!) Therefore what can be less refined than a bar where a stabbing took place?! Well…A bar where FIVE stabbings took place, of course!

This summer a man was arrested for stabbing five people after being asked to leave “The Place 2B” because of bad behavior. While others may avoid places of violence, the Iowa Roadie wanted to see what kind of place could evoke such an unbridled display of emotion. (I, myself, reflected on what I would stab someone for…and while I could think of nothing worth attaining a criminal record, I admit that I might get a little aggressive if someone tried to take an order of bacon cheese fries away from me.)

The Place 2B is situated in downtown Mason City where there has been some recent revitalization. However this establishment must still attract its share of unsavory characters (Well duh! There was a stabbing!) because on The Place 2B’s front door hung a sign that said the bathroom was for paying customers only, and violations of this policy would be enforced. (Perhaps the stabber just wanted to use the bathroom when he was asked to leave?) Regardless we wondered how such a policy was enforced. When we asked the bartender, he admitted that he did not know either.

Hint: When posting a rule, always make sure you can follow through. It’s kind of like when you were a kid and on a long car ride. You and your sibling would start fighting in the backseat and your dad would threaten to stop the car. If this were an empty threat, you or your sibling ended up with some self-inflicted injuries from elbow jabbing over whose side of the backseat was whose, but nothing more. If this were not an empty threat, you both ended up with a sore bottom. You soon learned what rules could be bent and which were the law. Evidently The Place 2B bathroom policy is still a bit fuzzy. However I, as a paying customer, was free to use the lavatory without any fear of repercussion.

It was during my visit to the bathroom, however, that the lady sitting next to us announced that she had gotten a new piercing…and then proceeded to pull out a very specific part of the female anatomy so she could show the entire bar. THIS was the clientele at the The Place 2B, site of five stabbings. Despite her lascivious nature, piercing gal (who introduced herself to us as S–abbreviated to protect her real identity) was really quite friendly. She explained that she loved this bar and the bartender, but not in a romantic way. They were good friends, and the bartender was coming over to paint for her the next day. (I’m sure he was hoping for another view of that piercing.)

It was at this point that a large group of people arrived. I monitored them closely, making sure that they did not violate the bathroom policy. Fortunately they had money with the goal of purchasing “tootsie pop shots.” S explained that this was a drink that tasted exactly like a grape tootsie pop. Our conversation then spider webbed to what flavor of tootsie pop was the best. (Raspberry in the magenta wrapper!) Also WHAT was the deal with the Indians on the tootsie pop wrappers? (There persists a claim that you can cash in those wrappers for a bag of candy. However per snopes.com, that is a big, fat lie…and now politically incorrect)

It was at this point that the painting bartender (not romantically involved with S) placed a grape tootsie pop shot in front of us. I was a bit skeptical that a beloved lollipop flavor could be duplicated as a drink. But after trying it, I swear that the painting bartender works a second job as an oompa loompa or some other candy making elf. Because just like S said, it tasted exactly like a grape tootsie pop! Remember when Mr. Owl dared to unravel that great confectionary mystery, asking how many licks it took to get to the tootsie pop center? With the grape tootsie pop shot, all that puzzlement disappeared as it took only a single gulp to consume the liquid version of that childhood treat. (Note: Besides tootsie pop drinks, The Place 2B sells an exceptional frozen pizza and $2 Hamms beer.)

Following our grape concoction, S invited us to follow her to a little bar called Ransoms next door. It was here that she introduced us to her male friend J (also abbreviated to protect his identity). J was wearing a skirt and informed us that he had a specific part of the male anatomy pierced. We appreciated that, unlike S, he refrained from showing us his piercing. J also informed us that he was not romantically involved with S, but that they were good enough friends that he had picked her up from jail once. Thus followed a lengthy (and admittedly uncomfortable) exchange between them about their romantic exploits with other people.

Throughout this highly personal sharing session, S continued to tell us what great people we were and encouraged us to accompany her and J one more time across the street to the Sportsmans Lounge. Like lemmings, we followed and soon were seated between our new best friend S and an older gentleman with hearing aids. This is where the evening took a nosedive. (OK, an even BIGGER nosedive than the anatomically offensive piercings.)

Up until this point, S had treated us like her besties. She thought the Iowa Roadie and Husband were “It.” (Perhaps the influence of the tootsie pop shot?) And then it happened…She brought up politics. Let’s just say the words that spewed from S toward her new BFFs probably made the stabbing seem tame. Using one of those magical oxymorons again, things turned “pretty ugly.” And all the while S is insulting us, the older gentleman on my right keeps yelling in my ear, “WHAT did she say?” while adjusting his hearing aids. When not even a fluorescent green drink that resembled ecto cooler could calm S, we decided it was time to close out this Iowa Roadie adventure.

In hindsight, I’m still not sure how to classify our roller coaster of a night. How do you truly describe the insanity of it all? So while I initially searched for an oxymoron that worked… Organized chaos? Terribly fun?…I just couldn’t find a description that fit. Until I looked in the mirror. THAT’s when it hit me. Forget the OXYmoron. Staring back at me in my frazzled state, I saw a plain ol’ MORON. Or pehaps better described in tootsie pop terms…a SUCKER for an adventure…good, bad or deranged.

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