We gathered a cadre of research assistants including a cluster of special correspondents who live nearby for some Saturday night East Jack action. We started the tour at Show-Me's, aka the Missouri version of Hooters. Located just off Interstate 70, this flesh hut looked like it used to house a Denny's. Inside, we encountered light-wood paneling from floor to ceiling. (Insert your own polishing-wood joke here.) Flat screens broadcast the Ultimate Fighting Championship. Of course, far more eye-catching were the scantily clad young waitrons. They wore shiny neon-pink hot pants that exposed some serious butt cheek, topped with semi-low-cut tank tops that read, on the back, "We have the best tails in town." Nude-colored pantyhose and tennis shoes completed the look. RA Erik commented: "This is more a dining asstablishment than a breastaurant."
It was a sausagefest, too. Fraternistas, slightly middle-aged guys and the sports-jersey-and-backward-baseball-cap types all kept one eye on the lovely ladies and the other on the televised cage fight. We spotted an interesting-looking trio near us a guy with two women who seemed more interested in each other. We tried to keep a nosy eye on them, but to do it, we needed liquor. The menu listed a 25-ounce "Show Me's" beer for $2.50, so of course we were intrigued and a little scared. We were expecting some exotic house brew in honor of the state-centric name of the bar say, something involving the muddy Missouri River or, worse, a libation strained through flesh-colored pantyhose. But to our relief and horror (really, the Germans need to have a word that combines those reactions), we discovered that we'd ordered 25 ounces of Busch Light. Sprecken zie gross bier?
While we were ordering, the interesting threesome left. However, we soon spotted a group of guys dressed in all black, wallet chains clanking down their legs. One man sported a bowler hat; another rocked a mohawk with a green stripe down the middle. The martial-arts enthusiasts said they'd come for the ultimate fighting. Andrew, 23 (the guy with the mohawk), walked with a cane because of a mysterious injury that he declined to describe. "It was skateboarding," he said, evasively. He showed us his ankle brace, around which he had tied a black, skull-patterned bandanna, which totally complemented his leopard-print shoes. His cane had an eagle-head top that he removed to reveal a foot-long sword. "Twenty people asked me if I was going to get a cane with a sword inside. I was like [switching to a belligerent tone], 'Why? Is it because I'm fucking Asian?'"
Marcus, 29, added this bit of wisdom: "Make it do what it do. If it don't do what it do, you make it do what it don't." Yeah, what he said!
Anyway, this friendly group soon got up to go, and on their way out, they graciously offered to let us take a picture of their friend R.T., who had passed out in the car. We followed them out to a dark-green Chrysler with tinted windows. They triumphantly flung open the driver-side door, only to reveal a nonpassed-out R.T., who was talking on the phone. "Shut the goddamn door!" he snapped.
"R.T.'s cooked like crack meat," Marcus said. "R-Ticular!"
By the time we made it back inside, the crowd had cleared out a bit, except for a lively group of youngish guys. One slapped a waitress on the butt and said "Your ass is mine!" A few seconds later, he slapped her again before he ran out a side door. We decided that upon seeing this sad grab-ass game, we, too, needed to flee.
On our way out, we passed another awesome site: the Sho-Me's gift shop. It consisted of a couple of glass counters stocked with Sho-Me's hot pants and tank tops and a tightly wrapped sleeve of four golf balls, which looked like anal beads.
Our next top was Player's Club, next door to a storefront for the Gnostic Confraternity. To paraphrase Lisa Simpson, we understand what each of those words means (kind of), but we don't understand them all together like that. The PC is a cozy, stand-alone place that used to be a Mr. Steak, with a hewn-stone wall on one side and a wooden dance floor at the end. As we entered, we were greeted with a blast of Hinder's "Lips of an Angel," which was followed by Randy Travis and other country acts. Unfortunately, last call was announced, so we got a quick drink and chatted with a friendly couple in matching camouflage pants. They told us that the next stop for the dedicated lush should be the Tool Shed, the only 3 a.m. bar we'd heard of in Independence.
Located on U.S. Highway 40, the Tool Shed is a medium-sized place that was packed by the time we arrived. It reminded us of Buzzard Beach, only with more of a hardcore biker crowd and an intensely local clientele. The Shed's crowd that night consisted of middle-aged couples, grizzled bikers and nubile 20-somethings. NASCAR-wear mixed with black leather and quasi-hipster attire. At the bar, we spotted the interesting threesome from Sho-Me's yes, indeed, the women were making out. Sadly, we never found out how the other woman fit in the equation, because in between making out, she kept flitting around and talking to other guys.
We soon got the inside info on the place from a group of regulars, which included a guy with floppy scenester hair who was still in the suit he'd worn to a wedding earlier that night. They all worked at Hereford House together, and 22-year-old Laura who was displaying an amazing expanse of bosom and her 27-year-old friend Dan told us a teat-tacular tale about the bar. On their first visit to the Shed, they witnessed one woman pulling out her boobs. Then a guy started sucking on them. Hey, isn't there some sort of breast-feasting prohibition on the ballot? Perhaps there should be.
Their other friend, 26-year-old Mary Jane, elaborated on the diverse clientele. "There's one colorful regular, the one in the pirate shirt," she said, pointing out an older woman who was lurching around in a yellow tank top with a hem that had been cut into jagged triangles. "I'm not sure why she's been carrying a salt shaker for the past hour. It's like going to a carnival ... in Holden, Missouri."
That was our cue to go. Plus, last call had been announced, and we were getting herded out of the bar. So endeth our random Independence adventure, which, in the wise words of a local philosopher, is best described thusly: We made it do what it do.
We're putting that on the catchphrase list