I’m not one of those people who say “no regrets,” because there was one time I passed up the opportunity to meet George Lucas and not the one who looks like a fussy, retired Santa Claus. I’m talking the George Lucas of 1983, the one who, at the time, had most recently created Indiana Jones and dated Linda Rondstadt, after finishing the third chapter of The (Second) Greatest Story Ever Told. Dating early-’80s Linda Rondstadt is more impressive to me now, but back then, I knew enough about the bearded, bespectacled man sitting at the counter of this diner my family went to after church to peg him for a hero. Assuming, probably correctly, that George Lucas would probably pay attention only to a child, my parents urged me to talk to him. I was too shy, though, and the rest is history. I’m not rolling in sold-a-church-bulletin-autographed-by-George Lucas money, and he went on to make boring political movies featuring a space-pickaninny named Jar Jar Binks.
So, yeah, I have regrets. Lots of ’em. I woke up Monday, for example, regretting that I’d gone out on Sunday night rather than burning through the pile of work crowding my to-do list. I’m glad I went to Magnolia Motor Lounge, however, because I hadn’t seen Texas troubadour Guthrie Kennard play in a long time. What I do regret (sorta) is taking that second shot of Jameson, because later, when I went to The Boiled Owl, I didn’t have room in my bloodstream for the Lone Star I bought. Funnily enough, Empire Strikes Back was on the TV above the bar. It was the part when Chewie had Lando by the throat.
I was at the point when I probably should’ve just gone home, but someone said something about Whataburger as I walked out the door. That got me thinking: I’d made and kept (for four days, anyway) a promise to myself not to eat Whataburger after I’d been drinking, but with a burgeoning case of the drunchies, I ended up staring at the cars in the parking lot of Ol’ South Pancake House, most notably because three of them were Fort Worth police cruisers.
Seeing a bunch of cops after the bars close is usually not an ideal situation, but at least I didn’t have to worry about getting robbed. Probably not, anyway.
As much as anyone touts this or that bar as the hot spot du jour, the most popular place in the annals of Fort Worth nightlife is Ol’ South. For the past 17 of the greasy spoon’s 51 years, I’ve been sliding into its booths to watch a crazy late-night menagerie of servers, students, cops, thugs, drunks, parents with toddlers, and other weirdos winding down their nights over chicken-fried steaks, pancakes, and giant omelets that leave your plate looking greasier than the Jersey Shore. Depending on what chemicals are in your system, it’s a little bit like eating next door to the Star Wars cantina, except that no one is ever sorry about the mess.
When I was there the other night, I ran into a woman I kind of know from the service industry and stuffed myself into her and her friends’ booth to cram down a plate of scrambled eggs and some fries that one chick said she didn’t want. I forget exactly what we were laughing about, but I remember thinking that you’d have to be a real asshole to get in trouble with a cop on his dinner break. The officers left shortly thereafter, crossing paths with a pair of college lasses who sat at the booth adjacent to ours.
Over the din of diners and clattering plates and silverware and the oldies drifting out of the speakers, I heard one of the young women irritably ask if we knew our server’s name so she could flag her down. She and her friend had been sitting there for a whole five minutes. We told her it was a secret and that she should be patient. A little bit later, she got up and left, leaving her friend to stoically place an order, possibly out of embarrassment; maybe because she just really wanted a waffle. It was pretty funny, and I didn’t regret my pit stop until I woke up the next morning with a food baby. — Steve Steward
Contact Last Call at email@example.com.