Page 5 of 7
Next stop: The Brick, for Monday night Brodioke. A neighbor had been there the previous week and vouched for its smoketasticness. I'm also a big fan of the Brick's food, which sometimes comes with a side order of cigarette smoke.
I visited with Chris Manley and his girlfriend, Thomasena Armstrong, both hardcore smokers. They had strong opinions on going outside to puff away. "It's either too cold or too hot," they said. Plus, the need to smoke is too strong sometimes to go outside.
Chris explained that a smoking ban would mean a quick end to bar conversations. "When you're talking to someone for a long time, like for 30 minutes or an hour, you're not like, 'Fuck off, I need to smoke right now,' and end the conversation," Chris explained. "It's an addiction."
"Bars like this are at risk," Thomasena said. "It should be up to the owner whether the establishment should be smoking or not."
Most everyone was a familiar midtown face that night, but 56-year-old Ron Brakevill was enjoying his first Bricksperience, which he diplomatically described as "different." He was accompanied by his girlfriend, 38-year-old Dana McGinnis, and his daughter, Shanna, who works nearby.
Dana, a Blue Springs resident, is a 20-year smoker, and she's anti-ban. She's a waitress at Neighbors Cocktail Lounge, off U.S. Highway 40, as well as a nursing assistant. I asked her if she has encountered patients who've been affected by secondhand smoke, and she responded that it's the smokers who come in with lung cancer. It's good to know that the line between smokers and nonsmokers is so clear-cut, diseasewise.
By that time, it was almost 1:30 on a school night, so I settled my tab, said my goodbyes and slipped out. Once I got home, I promptly sealed my wool scarf in its plastic tomb. The smoke wasn't cough-inducing, but I still had to use my balcony for airing purposes. As for the smoke detector, I should have thrown it off my balcony, for all its helpfulness so far.
friend nominated Harling's Upstairs for the Smoky Bar Hall of Fame, saying that even her smoker friends complained about the terribleness of the haze inside. Well, if the smokers said it was bad, I had to check it out.
I settled in with friends John and Lexie at the long bench table by the Ms. Pac-Man machine. Harling's, a KC institution, attracts a young-looking crowd. I noticed a couple nearby playing Golden Tee who looked like they were going to the prom. The guy wore a French-blue shirt and a tie, and his date was clad in a brownish, strapless, tea-length dress with a black sash. A clique of guys and chicks in argyle sweaters gathered by the dartboards. By the bar, the junior hipsters in vintage finds danced maniacally to Run DMC's "It's Tricky."
"I feel like I'm 22," John said.
"I feel like I'm 17," Lexie smirked.
The smokiness of the room was intense. Entering Harling's was like hitting a wall of smoke, which was a bit surprising, considering the not-too-low ceilings and the fact that the place wasn't packed.
Not long after our arrival, I noticed a group of about five women and one guy making a beeline for the women's bathroom. Intrigued, John and I went over to investigate. I tried to open the door, but someone was clearly holding it closed. John pushed harder, and it opened a few inches. An indignant woman with brown hair sat on the counter and glared at us. "Get the fuck out," she yelled. "If you have a vagina, you can come in."