Saturday, July 31, 2010


I worked at a few different Village Inn Pancake House restaurants in Denver, where the chain is based. (One night I worked at three of them, starting at 5 in the afternoon and ending at 7 in the morning.) There were so many in town that were corporate owned, so I was still working for the same company and there was no need to reapply. It was just agreed that whichever chain "borrowed" you after you went over 40 hours would pay the overtime.

After about six months of working at my first Village Inn, I transferred to another that was, at the time, the busiest one in the nation. I was scheduled either swing or graveyard shift, and there was a host there that I thought was dreamy. Only just beginning to wonder if I was gay, I didn't completely understand the crush I had on Wayne, but ... oh, my. He was Latino, kinda little (but he had the biggest hair that was feathered back and he wore huge platform shoes, so that made us about the same height) and I loved his crushed velvet jackets and pencil thin mustache. He was also about five years older than me, so he seemed very mature. I was only 20 at the time.

One night, Wayne and I went out drinking at a couple of the popular discos. After we had gotten a little drunk, he wanted to go to a strip bar on Broadway called Nathan's. I'd never been in one. Technically, I wasn't old enough to be in any bar in Denver unless it was a beer joint, 'cos 18 was only drinking age for 3.2 beer at the time and for liquor you had to be 21, but I looked old for my age. I didn't own a car, so we took Wayne's, an early 70s Monte Carlo (or maybe a Cutlass) with a couple of the windows busted out in back that Wayne had covered with clear heavy plastic and duct tape. The car had character.

Nathan's was a real dive with expensive watered down drinks, and the strippers danced completely nude. These were middle-aged women, mostly, and I remember them being a little on the chunky side. They would get quarters from the customers to put in the juke box and walk around on a couple of the pool tables to songs like "Ta Ra Ra Boom De Ay" or "There is a Tavern in the Town" with about the most bored expression on their face possible. Wayne was really into it. He kept buying drinks for the women, and before I knew it we had two or three of them sitting at or on our table. When the bar closed, we decided to go for breakfast at a popular cafe I would end up working at myself a few years later, but on the way there the cops pulled us over. I'd never been stopped by the police, so it was pretty scary for me. They had us get out of the car, they frisked us, and they started searching under the seats and in the seat cushions. That's when they asked me for my driver's license.

"Why do you want my driver's license? I wasn't driving?"

"Yeah, but you're the one with the knife!"

I was shocked to see the knife in their hand, mostly because I knew it was stolen.

"Wayne! What are you doing with a Village Inn steak knife?!"

Turns out, Wayne had used the knife to cut out the windows for his car and had stashed it under the front passenger seat. It would barely cut hamburger, but it was over five inches long, so the cops were calling this a concealed weapon. I started laughing when I heard Wayne's explanation, they figured out I wasn't dangerous, and we got away with just a warning. Times were different, and today I'm sure it would have been a DUI for him and some kind of ticket for me for being a minor and intoxicated in public. Maybe even a charge of terrorism for the knife.

That was the only time I went out with Wayne. I was still a long ways from discovering I liked men, and I think Wayne was straight anyway, but he sure could wear the heck out of those platform shoes.

1 comment:

  1. Nice post. I went to college in Denver (in the 80's)and am familiar with the 3.2 beer as well. Ahhh, Village Inn...