The legions of the hip, smelling Vanilla
The legions of the hip, smelling Vanilla
Lee Williams

Country Cure

You have entered a subsistence eked out in greasy late-night food pits and smoky bars filled with lonely whiskey-drinking viejos. There are also the girls from Milwaukee and the club kids filtering in. They have shadowed you for the last ten years. The company you keep defines you. The column chronicles your downward spiral.

Occasionally the opening of some art exhibit or new club teases you, but inevitably the nights run together like a cinematic dream induced by gels or some other synthetic substance. No amount of "chic," "hip," or "cool" can remedy the present state. This is your social life.

The old ennui. This moment comes sooner or later to everyone in the glamorous world. The same faces and places over and over like the needle stuck on Grandma's favorite Lou Rawls record, playing "You'll never find..." Over and over and over. It stops playing just long enough for her to move the arm back to the beginning groove and then it starts again.


Scully's Tavern

Is open from 11:00 a.m. through 1:00 a.m. Monday through Thursday, 11:00 a.m. through 3:00 a.m. Friday, noon through 3:00 a.m. on Saturday, and noon through 1:00 a.m. on Sunday at 9809 Sunset Dr, South Miami. No cover. Call 305-271-7404. The Vanilla Bar is open Wednesday through Saturday, 10:00 p.m. through 5:00 a.m. at 671 Washington Ave, Miami Beach. No cover Wednesday or Thursday. Call for cover Friday and Saturday, 305-673-1640. San Loco is open daily from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 a.m. at 235 14th St, Miami Beach. Call 305-538-3009.

Even the thrill of thrill-seeking is gone. Is it that fall-weather syndrome that was on the MSN home page? Have you changed? What are you becoming?

Things are so much simpler in the country. You head out to Scully's Tavern in South Miami and drink in the elixir of his wild and zany country karaoke. Bob sings and jokes his way through a revised version of the Irving Berlin classic "White Christmas." Glistening tree tops and sleigh bells replaced by krypie and nose candy. The joke falls flat for the more conservative patrons. Being hip and with it, you get it. This ain't Bing Crosby here. This is nightlife.

Here in relatively rural Miami, cheap drinks provide life's simpler pleasures. A friendly smile from a bartender, a hearty howdy from a server. Heaven unfolds. Hard to explain the appeal to those trapped on the Beach. Even harder to explain to those weekend pilgrims from Kendall who'd rather trek to 7.1 Square Miles island than chill in the suburban hood.

Listen to those southern accents ("Shore 'nuf") and country gals singing "(I've Had) The Time of My Life." You start to prefer the temptations of denim skirts and frilled blouses over Donna Karan and Armani couture. Weathered and leathered skin over glowing, Botoxed South American beauties.

Have you lost your mind?

Then just like an addict needing his fix, the voices inside urge you back across the causeway.

"Take 836 east and keep driving until you run into the water," they whisper. Real addicts don't want help or to move beyond their addictions. Every moment spent fighting it (or in Kendall) is just filler before the return to darkness. You seek comfort in the tried and failed.

Give me a gram of Gilbert.

How about a sniff of the Mix?

Do you know where I can get some Industry?

No? Well, what do you have?

The Living Room?

Oh! It's the Vanilla Bar, now!

We'll take it!

Spiced up and cut purer this time around.

No one is quite sure yet what to make of the name change. Let's face it, the Living Room seemed just fine. Notoriety, nobility, and all those comfy couches. But we are here because we are supposed to be. That is what the hip do. We drink Vanilla martinis. We look at each other. We smile. We look. We dance in place. We look away. We are the hip. And most important, this place smells nice.

But you can't stay in one place too long. You are still feeling an urge. The whispers draw you to the Deuce, even though the last couple times you were there you noticed that one drag queen with the ponytail leering at you a little too long. Not really sure how you feel about that just yet, but you can sort it out in the cab ride.

"Let me out here and keep the change."

Big spender tips a whole 25 cents.

Before you dart into the Deuce, you'd better load up on some San Loco to absorb the impending alcohol. Troy, the guy behind the counter, is always good for some rock and roll trivia to take your mind off of the endless cycle of clubbing. He is an encyclopedia of useless information about useless bands, but he sure is good company. Or at least familiar company.

Just as you suck down that last piece of lettuce, the flashing neon signs call from across the street, but maybe the present pit stop served you well. Not up for debating Marshall Mathers's talent and relevance, you decide against the Deuce and call it a night. This decision eliminates the risk of an adverse reaction to whiskey sours mixed with a "not-so-bad-looking drag queen." No sense in trying to rationalize that RuPaul looks better than some of the other girls you know. At least not until next week.


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