Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Gun Barrel City, Texas: Saturday Night at Cedar Isle

The moon illuminated Cedar Creek Lake as we slowly cruised toward the bar. It was a cool night, the sort of night one sorely misses in August. The water was calm, and, as the breeze from our motion forced me to squint, I soon fell into some strange space between sleep and consciousness. The short trip was relaxing and peaceful, and it in no way prepared me for what would ensue.

We were headed to Cedar Isle, a bar that squats above a dock along highway 334. It's the kind of bar one expects to find on a lonely tract of tourist beach . . . the type of place that should have Jimmy Buffet blasting from the radio while the owner bitterly rants in a drunken haze about how the beach bar was the fulfilment of a lifelong dream. In that vein, the bar sports tattered turquoise siding, a guy grilling burgers near the dock, and easy boat access. This bar was different though. First, the ocean is roughly 500 miles away. Second, Jimmy Buffet never entered the band's playlist. Third, this bar made me feel out of style for not having a mullet. Cedar Isle is a world of its own.

As we pulled toward the dock, we strained our ears to determine whether the bar had a live band or a karaoke machine. The water distorted the sound, and we couldn't tell whether the vocals came from a self-labeled "professional" musician or a drunken hack reliving past glories. We soon realized the sound definitely came from the band, but it was likely also coming from someone reliving past glories.

We muscled past the grill and onto an open patio. Our senses were soon occupied with an eclectic cast of characters. We saw an aging woman in a red top with Shirley Temple, red-died curls framing her weathered face. The band seemed to be a gathering of utter strangers: a bass guitarist who looked like a young Paul McCartney with Ringo's 70s hair and a cut-off tank top. The lead guitarist flaunted a grandiose mullet that moved with his rockin' gyrations. The other guitarist looked twenty years and about nineteen thousand cigarettes behind the rest. Together, they offered three distinct sounds: Beatles (he sounded like a young John Lennon, meaning this one man was effectively channeling three Beatles), high-pitched hair rock (via the Mullet), and 90s grunge rock. They were perfect.

We staggered through the crowd and immediately realized that we were about five beers behind our fellow patrons. We also realized that we would not, and probably could not, catch up to them. We found a table next to a couple of guys from Waxahachie who were just passing through, apparently enjoying a day of "fat doobies" on the deck of their boats. While they confirmed that detail in conversation, their smiles had told us that already.

Our table gave us great views of the dancefloor. A lone dancer in a polka-dot top thrusted her arms about violently, jerking in utter disregard for rhythm. Occasionally she would collapse suddenly on the ground and then rise again, a drunken phoenix. Her efforts were soon joined by countless others. Perhaps a result of the crowd, the polka-dot dancer vanished. A while later I spotted her in the distance, continuing her dance quite alone on the dock. This night was all about her.

We sipped our beer and laughed, thankful to be the hell out of Dallas. Megan and I had visited a posh Dallas establishment the night before, a place notable for its creative cocktails, unique food items, and plastic-surgeried patrons. Cedar Isle was a simpler universe. The beer was canned, the music was classic, and the deck shook with a lust for life repressed in the Dallas restaurant by self-consciousness and glam.

I took in the scene and reveled in the unbridled joy. Somewhere in that reveling, I noticed a woman had pulled off her shirt and was giving lap dances to her friend. Meanwhile, polka-dots was coming dangerously close to assaulting the younger guitarist. The cops seemed to have circled in on a group of underage partiers, and somewhere in the emerging chaos, we decided it was time to head home.

We untied the boat and headed off toward the moon, which was now high in the sky. The cacophony of Cedar Isle slowly slid into the distance, and the hum of the engine prepared us for sleep. I shook my head and wondered whether that trip to the bar was just a strange dream.

No comments:

Travel Blogs - Blog Top Sites