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Snakes N Skanks in a Redneck Bar - a Short Story of a visit to a Backroad Bar in the South
A Redneck Bar in the South
This Bar exists, but one important thing had to be changed.
I had to change the name itself. The real name of the particular bar I write about here was not Snakes and Skanks.
But, after my experience there, I felt it was what should be the most appropriate from my experience.
Not to mention what might happen to me if I ever returned and they found out I had used the real name.
Snakes N Skanks
That was the name on the faded gray sign as I turned off of the crooked country road and into the parking area.
I had to meet a plumbing acquaintance of mine and go over a few things with him.
He had suggested this place as being convenient for both of us to meet. And, he had bragged on the fresh fish “catch of the day’ that they were supposedly famous for.
I was relatively new to the area, so I agreed.
He had told me that it was located on a back road but it was also situated right on the banks of the Peace River in Florida, and they got their fish delivered to them, fresh every day by a local.
Following his directions, I came around a curve in the dusty dirt road and there it was. I took a quick look and then I pulled my Jeep into a corner of the parking area and shut the engine off.
It was a pretty large parking area that had probably, at one time, years ago, been flat, smooth and covered with gravel.
Now? Well, the best description I can give you is this.
I had only parked a little over 100 feet from the front door of the building but I twisted my right ankle twice sliding into sandy potholes in my flip-flop sandals.
And I was trying to watch what I was doing.
As to the building itself, it was an interesting testament to what I call Redneck ingenuity, so describing it is going to be a little hard.
Let's see here. OK, I got it.
Years ago, we had a contemporary home in Virginia and we really loved that house.
It had six different roof lines, all colliding with each other, it seemed.
And, inside, it was one of those layouts that included an enormous great room with a thirty foot ceiling at its peak. The rest of the house layout was just as interesting and open.
The outside of my house was painted a color akin to the gray you see in a piece of sun-bleached driftwood that they sell at tourist traps everywhere.
The majority of this building was, accidentally, that kind of that color …. in places.
Plus, if you looked closely there were several other faded colors that stubbornly hung onto the outside in a few places.
At least this indicated that there had actually been times when paint was applied to the building.
It was obvious that the original building had been expanded with sections built on at later times but to no standard at all of maintaining a common overall esthetic.
Youcould see that each section of the building had faded and chipped color remnants of their own.
The original building looked to have been a two-story home of about a eight hundred square feet per floor.
First Impressions are often the right impressions!
It looked like the first addition to the house had once been an extended side porch that, at some time, had been closed in using old doors and windows from other houses.
This, I found out later, was the main dining room.
Then, beyond that, I could see a large back section that ran the full length of the house.
It looked like it had once been a large outside deck that now supported a lean-to roof, and was screened in.
Looking closer and it had, at some time, sagged by about six inches at one corner. And from what I could see, they had just stuck a few more cinder blocks under the corner to keep it from sagging any more.
As to the outside screens, there were so many holes in them, and hand sewn patches over some of the larger ones that I figured to myself; it might keep out small birds, but mosquitoes were another story. I could picture them laughing to each other as they entered, in battle formation, at almost any point that they wanted.
I wish I had taken a picture because nothing about the building was done properly much less to anything resembling a building code.
As they say, in the South; “Somebody is Kin to Somebody, to get away with that!”
The 50 Best Bars on the SOUTH
The Bar just Smelled like trouble
Anyway, when I got to the front door, I stomped my feet to get the dust off, and then I noticed that there was a piece of paper taped to door itself.
Well, first of all, I noticed that the paper was haphazardly held in place with Duct Tape.
What did the sign say? Well, this is what was scrawled in pencil on that piece of paper.
Jimmy broke this door last night, and then he ran away so we aint got no money to fix it yet.
So, Ya' ll come on around to the back door if you wanna drink or somethin’.
This put a smile on my face, and as I was wondering what the story was, I also saw that someone else had written a reply in the corner of the paper;
Y'all pissed Jimmy off last nite and he aint gonna pay for your damn door.
And beside that little rebuke they had drawn a crude Happy Face.
Now ....... A normal and sane human being would have looked at the building, thought about the parking lot, and then carefully reread the sign and note.
Then, being a normal and sane person, they would have beat it back to their Jeep, and gotten the Hell out of there.
Everything about the place spelled trouble!
I Love Bars with Character
But ……. I’m not real smart when it comes to bars, and especially bars that are sitting on some kind of water.
I don't know what it is, but I just love to drink a beer and stare at a large body of water.
My wife calls it a genetic defect, I call it having discerning taste in my bars.
Well, accepting my weakness, when it comes to bars with character, I obviously just walked around to the side of the big addition on back of the building and opened the creaking screen door.
As I opened it, it stopped moving, about halfway, and I, of course, ran right into the edge of the door.
Mad, I grabbed the screen door and shoved with all of my might, with tears now in my eyes from the pain in my nose. The door creaked loudly and finally gave up and opened the rest of the way.
At the same time, I heard laughter from the dark insides of the bar.
I took a few more steps inside, and stopped as my eyes adjusted to the lack of light.
And I thought the outside of the building was interesting.
Inside? Well, there was a long wooden bar that ran the length of the main building and the rest of the floor space was taken up with well worn wooden picnic tables. You know the kind I mean, a wooden top about 6 by 3 feet, with x-shaped legs on each end, and a cantilevered wooden plank for a bench seat on each side.
And the interior décor?
Well, the walls and ceilings were lined with old baseball style caps. It seems that once you had enough beer, you were allowed to nail your work hat up on any unused section of wall or ceiling that you wanted.
Judging from the hats nearest me, the clientele were working people, working people that sweated a lot, and working people that got very dirty on their jobs.
Imagine that for overall ambience.
As to the laughter I had heard, my eyes had adjusted enough to see that my friend, sitting at the bar along with a couple of other guys were the source. And, it seems that the sticking screen door was a steady source of humor for all of the regulars here.
I walked over to my friend, and took a little good-natured ribbing for a minute or so, and then a very large woman came through a swinging door that had “kitchen, employees only!’ written on it.
She walked over to me, and asked what I wanted to drink. She had a half-eaten chicken wing in her hand, and the other half was hanging in the stained teeth of her very large mouth.
I asked for a Miller Longneck and as she waddled away, my friend started talking.
He was telling me what a great place this was, as I took another look around the room. The tables had been stained, so many times, by so many different foods that there was no actual color to them, They had a greasy gloss to their surface, as well as on the seat planks.
On the top of each table there was an old cardboard beer six-pack holder. In each hole that had once held bottles of beer, was; a salt shaker, a pepper shaker, a small bottle of ketchup, one of mustard, and one of hot sauce.
In the sixth hole? Well, it held a partial roll of paper towels.
I realized that I was in condiment Hell! I just didn’t know how many other Hells there were in this place.
I heard a clunk behind me and turned around to see my bottle of Miller sitting on the bar as the bartender passed through the door into the kitchen.
The floor of this room was actually just decking boards nailed side by side for the length of the room. And, it came to me that it really had, at one time been a large deck that had a roof and screening added later.
The very back of the deck was only eight to ten feet from the river water, and only maybe two feet above the water line in the mud.
My friend made an excuse to go to the bathroom.
So just sitting there, curiosity got the better of me and I grabbed my beer and walked to the very rear of the room and stared down at the water.
There, only a few feet away, in the shallow still waters of the river were four or five baby water moccasins squirming around some floating twigs and other debris.
The thought hit me that “where there are baby water moccasins, there is a mother water moccasin, so I turned to retreat from the water and back to the bar.
As I turned, I c\aught some movement down at my feet, and considering what I had just seen, I jumped.
I mean I jumped! I jumped so high that I’m surprised I didn’t hit my head on the hat-covered ceiling.
At the same time, I emitted a very loud yell; Look Out! Water Moccasins!
After I landed, I was back at the bar, on my very high bar stool in, at most, two steps, with beer bottle still in hand.
While I calmed my heart, the laughter was back. Curiously, it seemed that everyone was getting a lot of enjoyment from my actions,
The bartender came out of the kitchen, with a sandwich in her hand this time, and the people at the bar were having a great time describing what I had just done.
She looked at me and asked;
You aint afraid of no old Skank are you?
Well, I was stunned and very confused!
Now, I was wondering: was she talking about herself, or the Water Moccasins?
And, I knew water Moccasins, and they were called a lot of things, but they were not called Skanks.
The only Skanks that I knew of were; the derogatory word used for very ugly women and ……. Then it hit me.
There was a type of small lizard that could be found throughout the Southeast of the US, and they were called Skanks.
I looked back across the room and there I saw a lizard stick its head up between the planks of the floor, near where I had been standing. It was a Skank.
She laughed some more, and asked if I needed another beer, smiling.
Seeing those teeth again, and this time much closer, I made a decision that I was not eating here ……ever.
I nodded yes, and at this point my friend returned.
We quickly took care of our business, and then he wanted to know if I was going to stay and eat, but I made some sort of excuse about my stomach, and as soon as was polite, I paid up and left the bar.
I know that I mentioned earlier that I loved the unique and different when it came to out of the way bars and such. And, I have frequented some real dives over my life.
Of course, as I went through the stubborn screen door, again, I could hear the others at the bar telling my friend about my escapades while he was in the toilet.
I got into my car and thought about the sign for a minute or so.
Snakes ‘N Skanks!
Yeah, that sounded right to me.
Finally, I just laughed at myself and started my Jeep, getting the Hell out of that parking lot as quickly as possible
And as I drove up the dirt road, still smiling, and with my mind churning over what I had just gone through, I asked myself;
Did they serve food to Snakes and Skanks, or did they serve Snakes and Skanks to people?
Or was it just a cool name for a bar?
I, for one, thought the name was perfect.