Forget the robins, the pretty flowering trees and all that crap. For us, the real sign of spring is when our local watering holes open up their outdoor drinking areas. So, on a beautiful Friday night, we headed to the Levee with a group of research assistants to check out its great upstairs deck, which makes you feel like you're in a treehouse. And we discovered that our forecast of the place was just as predicted: nice staff, cool bar setup, fairly friendly crowd, occasional pockets of douchebaggery.
Things did not seem promising at first. After arriving after 11:30 and paying the $5 cover, we went upstairs and found a packed house. Sadly, all of the tables on the treehouse deck were occupado, so we sat in the quasi-sunroom that connected the upper level of the bar to the deck. We deemed it Purgatory because, with its huge open windows, it wasn't quite outside but not really inside, either. At least our table provided a good vantage point for people-watching, so we settled back to observe the action and liquored up on $5 Jack and Cokes and tall, $4 gin and tonics.
The upstairs crowd, which was rife with those in their early twenties, was well on its way to getting fantastically plastered. It consisted mostly of the fraternista types in polo shirts. (Thankfully, nary a collar was popped.) These baby-faced, wide-eyed guys, who were probably all militantly straight while sober, started exhibiting signs of homoerotic behavior after several shots. It began with the intimate guy embrace (the one-arm side hug, held a little too long and bringing the men a little too close) and progressed to the faux dry-humping of other males. And we witnessed some autoerotic behavior, in the form of a guy kissing his biceps. Uh, anyway, they mingled with the trendbot chicks, whose plumage involved boob-baring tops paired with skinny, knee-length shorts and heels. One particularly egregious example of this trend-gone-bad involved a woman sporting a Prada bag, black pumps and hemmed, knee-length jean shorts, aka jorts. Which brings us to this important maxim for all genders: Friends don't let friends wear jorts in public.
We decided to scout out the lower level of the bar. A slightly older and more diverse crowd had gathered to see Groove Agency, which was rocking a cover of "Mustang Sally." Then we headed to the back room, a cool, square-shaped spot with a high, wood-beamed ceiling. We dubbed that area the Hunting Lodge. Connected to that was another outside deck. We made a mental note of all the nooks and crannies for some possible future make-out action.
We decided to relocate to the Hunting Lodge for a change of scenery, and that's where we encountered a bachelorette party. The bride-to-be, 21-year-old Megan, and her bridesmaids, 23-year-olds Mary and Maggie, had been dancing somewhat crazily and raunchily we're talking legs in the air, practically resting on shoulders. Naturally, we had to interview them.
They were all very nice. Among the factoids they disclosed: They "own the Levee," having been there every weekend since March 3; their signature phrase is "love it"; and they're "all about the -tastic," referring to one another as Megtastic and Maretastic. Since we, too, are all about the -tastic, we couldn't help but warm up to them.
Megan told us about her June 17 wedding. She met her fiancé three years ago at a party, and they're having a "super over-the-top" wedding. "Mom and Dad are taking care of the bill, so it'll be gourmet meals," she explained.
"It's, like, a $100,000 wedding," Mary added. "It's crazy." Mary herself was sporting a crazy 5.78-carat rock, which she said she got 75 percent off on the Home Shopping Network. She was also wearing a silver Tiffany bracelet with a heart charm and a mesh ring ("We love Tiffany's!").
Megan will go to New York in two weeks for her final fitting of a Vera Wang dress. "No local for me. I'm going to New York to meet Vera Wang!" she said. She also showed us her ring, which she designed herself. It's an Asscher-cut, 1.5-carat diamond; there were more diamonds on the band. It looked vintage and was gorgeous.
"I'm starting med school in the fall, so we're excited for the future," Megan said. "We have two Pomeranians: Grizzly Bear and Coconut. Everything's absolutely perfect."
OK, normally we'd want to kick people like that in the junk, just out of envy. But, like we said, they were all sweet and unpretentious, so best wishes to you, Megan.
Instead, we went back upstairs and met a few people we'd definitely like to kick in the junk, including a Paris Latsis look-alike. (That's Paris Hilton's ex-fiancé and if you're not checking out www.thesuperficial.com for such important pop-culture news, well, we're giving up on you.) He wore a brown stocking cap and two leather-corded necklaces with rune pendants, and he said he was visiting from Los Angeles. When we approached him, Mr. Paris and his drunkoid, assholic, gay/not-gay, spiky-haired crew aggressively started asking, "What are you going to ask? What do you want to know?"
Well, tell us who you're sleeping with, for one. How about that?
"I'll fuck dudes, chicks, squirrels, rabbits," Paris said. "I'll fuck anything!"
Why don't you go fuck yourself? No, we didn't say that out loud, but we dearly wanted to. We just walked away.
Then we met a couple of guys who restored our faith in the Levee crowd. One was 24-year-old Jared, who sported a big Afro. We had spotted him at the Plaza Library earlier that day, so we approached him. "Are you stalking me?" he suspiciously asked. Uhhh, nooooo. Continue using that computer at Station 8. We're just sayin'.
Then there was 26-year-old Josh, a cool, personable guy who was hanging out with some of his fraternity brothers. We took his picture with 22-year-old Ashley, a cute KU student who was also pretty nice. Josh confessed his crush on Ashley, which started when he first met her about eight months ago.
So, are you going to ask her out?
"I'm intimidated by her," he replied. "She's out of my league. It's wishful thinking."
Oh, Josh. Though the forecast on that night was partly cloudy, we hope there will be a warm front coming in. Just like in town.