Thanks to a new bar in town, though, we might start feeling some love for Mizzou. That's because Columbia watering hole Willie's has just opened a KC branch at the corner of Truman Road and Grand. It's lauded by our MU-alumni friends as being the marquee bar in Tiger territory. The place, which used to be a tuxedo shop, is located just a few doors down from Totally Nude Temptations and the soon-to-be Sprint Center, so we'd say it's stuck between a rock and a hard-on. Thank you! We'll be here all month!
As we walked up to Willie's with our research assistants on the Saturday night of its opening weekend, we spotted a red school bus parked in the middle of Grand with "Pumper 69" painted on the side. It had disgorged its contents into the Cigar Box. Just then, another converted school bus rumbled down the street, to the delight of three middle-aged guys, who hollered for some tit-flashing. A woman on the bus began to lift her shirt, but then revealed nothing. The guys groaned, and the bus continued on its drunken way. Wooo! Spring break, KC-style!
Inside Willie's, the décor of forest-green and burgundy accents seemed pretty neutral. The walls weren't plastered with black and gold paraphernalia. Multiple flat-screens hung on the brick walls. Huge garage-door-style windows allowed a fantastic view of the southern edge of downtown. "It's a Columbia Cashew," quipped one local bar owner we ran into that night. Our only problems with the place were the overly bright lighting and the repeat of "Pretty Young Thing." (We attribute the double dose of Michael Jackson to opening weekend kinks.) But we give the place points for having Boulevard's Bob 47 on tap.
Most of our fellow drinkers were in their twenties and early thirties and ranged from clean-cut, Greek-system types to clean-cut, urban loft buyers. At one point, we headed to the bar for another $4 beer and stood in the clearing near an older guy in a white polo shirt embossed with a small Rams logo. "I need you to get me a drink. Then call me a cab," the man politely told the bartender before throwing a $100 bill on the bar. Polo Shirt drunkenly tried to buy us a drink, but we demurred. Accepting a drink from random strangers is just too great a social obligation, and we fled when he became annoyingly insistent. Obviously, that guy never sat through a "no means no" college seminar.
Besides, we wanted to ask people about their own college stories. One of the first people we approached was 34-year-old Tracy, a beautiful blonde wearing a red, kimono-inspired top with jeans. She told us about the time she went out to celebrate a friend's 21st birthday in Fargo, North Dakota. They ran into Fargo native Jonny Lang. "He was, like, 16 around that time, and she totally molested him," Tracy said.
"I'd molest him," her friend added. Well, ladies, he's of age now, so molest away.
We ran into a trio of guys who also experienced underage luv. We knew the story was going to be good when Ryan, A.J. and David's road trip tale began with, "We were going to go to Mexico for an hour. Three days later ... "
Basically, they got shit-faced, and Ryan and A.J. started making out with some 16-year-old girls who were visiting from Los Angeles with their parents. Ryan hastily explained that he was 22 at the time, and they thought the girls were 18.
"The braces should have been the tip. When it scratched my lip, I should have known," he said. Headgear is always a good sign, too.
Next up was 21-year-old Steve, who was sitting with a group of his buddies at a table. His story was about Tom, a former Benedictine College classmate who was also at the table and sporting a backward baseball cap.
They were at a Cardinals-Royals game when Tom was picked to be in the dance-off on Kauffman Stadium's Jumbotron. His opponent was a 12-year-old kid.
Before the cameras turned on them, the kid asked Tom what he was going to do. Tom demonstrated what Steve described as some "jackass moves." When the contest started, the kid went first and stole Tom's moves.
"That was bullshit!" Tom interjected.
A flustered Tom managed some facsimile of his moves and, according to Steve, got booed by the sold-out stadium.
After the game, they all went to the Levee, where an already lit Tom ended up meeting someone. But as he was trying to get her number, he fell facedown into the bar. The woman walked away, and Tom got kicked out. Someone put him into a cab, which took him to his parents' house. "He wakes up bleeding, buck-naked on his parents' sofa," Steve says. "His mom's crying, 'My son's an alcoholic!' His dad's like, 'What happened?' and he couldn't remember." Later that week, he went to Baja 600, and a woman spotted him, saying, "That's the guy!" She had recognized him from the Jumbotron.
Well-done, Steve. That story gets an A in our book.
We stayed until last call, and as we stumbled out after closing, the words of National American University's fight song rang in our heads: One day, one night, Saturday's all right. Especially after a day of watching football. We'll do shots to that.