By Rebecca Bulnes
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By S. Pajot, Liz Tracy, Kat Bein, & Sean Levisman
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Let's see, there is Nikki Beach, Anthem at crobar, Enjoy at Tantra. Then again, there's a slice of good ol' American tradition: football! Admittedly Clubbed isn't much of a football fan, but c'mon, the home team is doing so well at this early juncture in the season. You just gotta cheer 'em on. But there's no sense in watching football on the Beach. So Clubbed goes to Kendall. Our Dolphins are battling it out with those nasty Denver Broncos. Just off the Florida Turnpike along Kendall Drive, the folks at Gatsby's poke cues, nibble finger food, and don't even have the words "south" or "beach" in their vocabulary. But don't let that fool you. We're about 25 miles from party central, yet there's still a private room -- VIP is what clubbies would call it -- where you and your friends can disappear and be secluded from the regular throngs of pool-playing junkies and sports fans. There's also a full head count of nice-looking Kendall girls in stonewashed hip-huggers with the regular assortment of Johnny Coolsin Oxford button-downs eyeing them over. Just don't spill the beer, buddy.
The music isn't loud and there is nothing pompous about 12,000 square feet of pizza, clams, beers, and Oriental steak wraps. Just a Sunday night of neighborhood fun.
Heading down to Kendall always gives the illusion of being on vacation in another part of the world. When you spend so much time beneath the Beach's neon glare, there is something about strip malls that oozes anywhere but Miami. It feels like being deep in the heart of West Texas minus the cowboy boots and accents. Okay, the palm trees give it away. That and the fact that green things are alive and growing. Maybe Texas isn't a good analogy, but hey, it sure doesn't feel like Miami.
Then again, just like the ol' boys in Texas, Kendallites love some sports. Baseball playoffs. Hockey. You name it. Tonight it's the Fins tossing around the pigskin. There are about seventeen TV screens to choose from, so you can see Jay Fiedler wince as the Bronco linemen unload on him no matter where you are in the room. Unfortunately, there are no giant screens in the can. The line had to be drawn somewhere.
Much to Clubbed's approval there is no dingy sports-bar feel. Plush seating. Nice ventilation. It's almost like being in your living room on one of those inflatable tube chairs, but these chairs are definitely nicer.
Comfy little recliner, huh? Are you sure it's okay to put a drink there? Mom would never let me put my drink on the table without a coaster. Look, no cigarette burns on the leather sofas. Couldn't hide them anyway, this place has got nice lighting. Looks like a mighty fancy getup. Watching football with drunk, potbellied guys can actually -- perhaps -- just maybe become a Sunday evening pastime. Who needs a guest list? There may be a crowd of people and SUVs are pulling up out front to be valeted and all. But fear not. This is not a likely place to spot Madonna, not like she has been spotted anywhere near Miami lately anyway.
Maybe you're not into football. That's okay -- there are millions of pool tables. Well, there are thirteen regulation Brunswicks to be exact. But millions is the figure friends calculate when you ask if there were hot chicks at the party last night, so let's use the same mathematical system.
Pool buds sip Buds and slurp down steamed clams while they take their best shot at the corner pocket. Even the Kendall ladies get in on the fun. Breasts glistening under the light fixtures as they take aim at the nine ball. Ah, beautiful breasty women. We are in Miami after all. Heaven, I tell you. Heaven. Nice to have the comforts of civilization exported to these parts.
So yeah, back to the pool players: It's the second Sunday of the month and that means that the In the Biz pool tournament is cracking. Time for the pros around these parts to take a shot at some Gatsby's prize money. One hundred and fifty dollars worth of beer and food goes to the winner. It's all-out battle tonight.
For those whose hand/eye coordination is restricted to raising a glass while keeping an eye on the ball game, it's challenge enough to cheer the boys in teal and white without spilling any Bud Lite. Especially during this game. The start of the second quarter and it's second and four at the Miami 38-yard line. "Jay Fiedler passes left side. Complete to Rob Konrad for eight yards." Elation. Joy. But not a drop of ale hits the floor. Snack on some four-cheese pizza and sit on the edge of your seat.
Armchair quarterbacks ponder the Dolphins' possibility of "going all the way this year."
"[Ricky] Williams is just what we needed to get us over the hump," explains an anxious bar commentator in a Dolphins jersey and khaki shorts. A few beers and the ability to recite countless preseason stats have turned him into a prime-time announcer. You know the type: unathletic, but capable of single-handedly leading his team to the championship with his telekinetic powers. His unamused companion sips her cocktail while looking around to see if her girlfriend is on her way back from the restroom yet. No such luck. Gonna have to listen to a few more plays.
Now it's first and ten at the Denver 45-yard line. "Jay Fiedler passes across the middle complete to Oronde Gadsden for 29 yards."
The picturesque Fitzgerald room erupts as Miami marches closer and closer to "da house." Overzealous barflies prophesy that Wannstedt and company may be just one loss shy of a repeat of a perfect season.
Denver is leading 6-0 and offensively seems to be in pretty good control of the game, though it has so far had to settle for two field goals. Our Bob Costas recognizes that our boys have gone four and out consecutively. The offensive rhythm isn't there yet.
Finally his date's bathroom buddy comes back. While he predicts the next play, our dolled-up Kendallites ogle what they call "big men with big butts" on the big TVs. Hey, nothing wrong with the harmless objectification of men in tights. The date admits to not listening to the commentary because she doesn't know what much of it means. But to her credit she does know the players and what the point breakdowns are. That's more than Clubbed cares to learn, so her dedication is to be admired.
First and 10 at the Denver 16. The crowd looks on, steadying glasses of beer and scarfing coconut shrimp while Ricky rushes right for six yards. Now second and four yards to go at the Denver ten-yard line. Jay Fiedler snaps the ball and Williams crashes up the middle for a ten-yard touchdown run. Gatsby's goes wild.
Strangers hug, hoot, and holler. This could be the turning point of the game. This could be the beginning of a Super Bowl run. This could be the beginning of a football dynasty. It could be lots of things. But let's not get carried away.
And yes, someone did win the pool tournament. He and his buds were thrilled to get Gatsby's T-shirts and a tab. Unfortunately their personal victory is overshadowed by the erupting celebration. With eleven seconds left Olindo Mare kicks a 53-yard field goal to seal the victory and to end Clubbed's venture into suburban living. Final score 24-22. Go, Gatsby's. Go.