Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Jayme vs. the Wreck Bar

So last summer, during our roadtrip vacation, we traveled to Fort Lauderdale after departing Orlando and our fun experience with Trader Sam's Grog Grotto. Why Fort Lauderdale? Because it was withing driving distance, we'd never been there, and the locale had several destinations we wanted to visit. First among these was the Wreck Bar. The Wreck Bar resides within the current B Ocean hotel and resort, but predates that hotel by decades. Opened in the 1960s, as I understand, the Wreck Bar is adjacent to the hotel swimming pool, with large windows behind the bar that lets patrons view the underwater happenings in the pool. When the place first opened, they had mermaid shows regularly. These ended after a few seasons, but started back up about a decade ago. As my eldest was a varsity swimmer in high school and my middle child aspires to be a professional mermaid (she already owns several swim tails), it seemed that the Wreck Bar would be a treat for the whole family.

Because we'd be driving 1,300 miles, I didn't want to show up only to have the show sold out (they have a family-friendly show at 6 p.m., with adults-only burlesque shows later in the evening) weeks before our trip I went onto the B Ocean reservation page, called up the Wreck Bar section and tried to make reservations. "Nothing available." What? So I tried again. Same result. They couldn't be sold out this far in advance, could they? Maybe they just hadn't opened the show up for reservations at that point. So I try every day for a week, no luck. Then I start calling and emailing B Ocean for clarification. No response to my email inquiries. Nobody returned my calls. Finally, a few days before we're scheduled to leave, I get ahold of someone. They promise to call back with information for me. They don't. Finally, after quite a long time on the phone, I finally get someone who tells me they don't accept reservations for the Wreck Bar. Then why is it listed on their online reservation system? The lady's about to hang up, but I stop her and ask that if they don't accept reservations, if the show sells out (there's no cover charge, but you're expected to order dinner and drinks). It almost always sells out, she says. We'd need to arrive at least an hour ahead of time to get seats. That tiny bit of information would really be useful put on their website, you know? Would've saved me hours of effort. But whatever. I now had a plan.

We arrived at around 4:40 or so, and were the fourth group in line. As early as we were, there were folks ahead of us. And the Wreck Bar was completely shuttered, not letting anyone in ahead of time. The line had gotten pretty long by the time they opened the doors at 5:15. Here's the thing that makes the Wreck Bar cool, beyond the fact they have mermaid shows--the space is designed to look like the interior of a wrecked sailing vessel. A Spanish galleon, if you will. It's not a tiki bar, but it's a themed, immersive space. I instantly loved it.

Waiting to order dinner as more and more people continued to file in, The Wife and I order some cocktails. The Wife orders a mai tai, as that is our go-to drink to evaluate the quality of the bar program. Her mai tai arrive looking unlike any mai tai we've ever seen. Skeptical, she took a sip. It was, without peer, the worst mai tai she'd ever tasted. Even the pineapple-and-rum mai tais from A Very Taki Tiki Bar were palatable, even if they weren't mai tais. This one was just bad.

I like to try out cocktails I can't find anywhere else, so I took a chance on the Wreck Bar's A1A cocktail, described as a refreshing mix of tequila, passion fruit and other tropical flavors, or something to that effect. I'm always on the lookout for new tequila cocktails to add to my home tiki bar, and this one sounded promising. The end result was anything but. I tasted no passion fruit, no citrus. In fact, I'd be surprised if the A1A I was served consisted of anything more than Cuervo served over ice. The Wife and I compared notes and immediately agreed not to waste any more money on the Wreck Bar's half-assed cocktails.

We ordered dinner, which was from the menu of the Naked Crab restaurant across the lobby. The food, I'm happy to report, far surpassed their cocktail program. I had a sort of lobster sandwich, which was excellent. The entire family was pleased with their entrees.

By this time it was approaching 7 p.m.(!) for a show that was listed as starting at 6. There must've been 60 people crammed into the bar, with another 70 or so standing outside the bar looking in. We were packed in there. Lots of people pressing into a small space, enough to give someone claustrophobia if one were so inclined. They announced a mermaid was available for photos, so we went out and sure enough, there was a mermaid. Our son was disinterested, but my daughters got their photos taken with her. We even showed her photos of Fairy Girl in her mermaid persona. The mermaid wanted to chat more about the mermaid lifestyle, but there was a long line, so that conversation was cut short.

Note DudeBro glaring at us from the bar. We didn't notice the colossal chip he was wearing on his shoulder at the time, but he clearly noticed us. DudeBro plays a much larger role in the remainder of our evening!

So the mermaid show finally starts, but DudeBro, looking like Matthew McConaughey's bratty kid brother, and his wingman, a sort of Penn Jillette-wannabe, plant themselves at the bar, completely blocking out view, and the view of the people at the table behind us. They don't actually have seats, mind you. They're just standing there, basking in their testosterone-fueled entitlement. The DJ announces over the P.A. there's no standing at the bar, but these guys ignore him. Finally, I tap Penn on the shoulder, say they're blocking our view and could you please move? Penn looks at me as if a roach had just skittered across his arm. DudeBro jumps in, telling me, "No, man. That's my girlfriend swimming, see?" and proceeds to turn his back to us, not moving, still blocking our view. We're just stunned by the arrogance. The Wife flags down one of the staff--the woman we take to be the floor manager--and explain problem. She shrugs and says, "Nothing I can do" and walks away. We were dumbfounded.

The thing is, DudeBro overheard. He was incensed that anyone would dare suggest he not block their view. He started yelling at The Wife, "Who do you think you are?" My eldest, who's got a short fuse, started in on him and I quickly escorted her out before punches were thrown (believe me, it was escalating fast). The eldest turned on me and vented quite loudly in the middle of the crowded lobby then stormed off. I returned to find the DJ and DudeBro going at it, with the DJ telling him there's no standing up front, and DudeBro yelling that it's his girlfriend swimming and he could stand anywhere he damn well pleased. Then he yelled at The Wife that if she'd have asked nicely he would've introduced us to his girlfriend, because that was his girlfriend swimming, but since she didn't ask nicely, he wouldn't introduce us. Then he stormed off.

Holy hell. We were all shaking. Were the police on the way? This isn't the way this was supposed to turn out. At all. Threat of a barroom brawl now past, The Wife took the opportunity to photograph some of the mermaid show, of which we've missed maybe 15 minutes of. Joy.

And then--you knew this was coming, right?--DudeBro comes back. Our waitress apologizes, telling us that DudeBro's been dating her only a few weeks, and that he's there every night she performs. Fine. Whatever. We were done. We paid our bill and departed just as hotel security arrived. Maybe they were asking DudeBro nicely if he'd introduce them to his girlfriend. I dunno. I will say that was the single worst experience of our vacation, and left a bad taste in our mouths--even worse than the cocktails. The Wife posted a brief writeup on Facebook about the ordeal, and MeduSirena, the mastermind behind the mermaid shows, messaged her apologizing and asking if she could send us a gift to make up for it. We thanked her and suggested maybe an autographed photo of MeduSirena would be cool. You know, hang it up in the Lagoon of Mystery? That wouldn't be too bad. That was back in July. Still no photo. Ah, well. Live and learn.

Now Playing: The Tikiyaki Orchestra Stereoexotique
Chicken Ranch Central

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