Music Box That Plays You Are So Beautiful To Me The Band Box Tavern

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The Band Box Tavern

Recently, my sister and I were reminiscing about our wild party days, when we would stay out until 5 in the morning, waiting for mom to go to work, and hiding in the car in the corner of our house. So that we wouldn’t go in while he was eating breakfast in his pyjamas. Our conversation inevitably turned into a drunken night at The Band Box Tavern in Bellmore.

Now, The Band Box was a special place for my sister and I…we’ve been regular Sunday afternoons there since we were toddlers (not literally). My dad, like everyone else, played softball on Sunday mornings, and then it wasn’t complete without a visit to the bar without beer for the men and Shirley Temples extra cherries for the kids. I know times have changed and bringing a kid to a bar these days would trigger a visit to Child Protective Services, but back in the 1970’s and early 80’s it was commonplace and we weren’t the only kids running around like hot dogs.

One Sunday when I was 9 years old, when my father was not sick at all, he gave me a few dollars to make a Jukebox (turning 45! I’m getting old!). I was and still am a big fan of Blondie, and my favorite song back then was Rapture (Fab Five Freddie and the Martian, cars, bars, eating guitars…) anyway, I love that music, I was old enough to put my money in my car and find the songs I wanted to play, but I wasn’t experienced enough to realize that punching in the codes to play Rapture would result in massive delays. before the song actually plays. When the music didn’t start right away, I thought I must have done something wrong and dialed the number again. It wasn’t playing, so now I thought the jukebox was broken and I hit the Rapture number for the third,…fourth time. By the time Rapture played for the seventh time in a row, I was getting dirty looks from all over the bar (remember, this was before remotes and you couldn’t “skip” songs), and the bartender finally removed the sound box.

It was a homecoming of sorts when we returned to The Band Box as sponsors ourselves, and we quickly regained our regular membership status. On one such hazy night, a regular, whose name I’m going to call Bear, invites me to accompany him to Atlantic City the next day. Bear looked like an overweight, aging Magnum PI, wearing a semi-unbuttoned Hawaiian shirt, thick gold chains, and thick tangles of chest hair. I’m guessing he was in his early 30s with thick salt and pepper curls and a Hell’s Angel beard. I found him physically repulsive, so of course I let him go (insert eyeball emoticon here).

The next morning he picked me up at 7am and by the time I was bleary eyed, droopy and sleep deprived I wanted nothing more than to cancel my trip and go to bed. But when he called outside, he had already paid for my bus the night before. I told Bear I was going to the AC with him, but I also told him I was broke…actually I think I had less than $10 in my wallet. The bear agreed to pay my money, so I got up and obliged. I hadn’t showered or even changed the night before, so I can only imagine what I looked like when I ran to his car. We went to The Band Box where the bus we were on was leaving.

When I got on the bus, it was like entering the set of the movie “Cocoon”. If you don’t remember, there was a movie with all the old men swimming in pools with alien eggs and reliving their youth by sucking life force from alien embryos. In other words, I could have been the granddaughter of 75% of the group we were traveling with. Bear seems to know everyone on the bus; I’m guessing he’s involved with the local K of C, Rotary Club, or VFW. At this point I tried to escape and called my sister to come get me but she just laughed and told me to sleep on the dirty bed I made.

I took his advice. During the 4.5 hour drive to Jersey, I fell asleep and pretended not to. Like a fly on the wall, I heard people around me compliment Bear on his beautiful, young girlfriend and ask how long we’ve been dating. His bragging about it being our first date almost made my ears bleed and my stomach cramp. I groaned silently in my head, making plans to kill the idea that Bear would kiss me in the next 8 hours.

Being a boring, boring, smelly girl was enough for me.

I stood next to Bear as Black Jack, yawning and making sure no part of my body was touching any part of him. My hair smelled of stale cigarette smoke from the night before, the sour smell of alcohol seeped into my skin, and I was grateful and praised for my abomination…I hoped the vampires would serve like garlic. Bear gave me $20 and ate while I was there and we went into the casino restaurant. He ordered a steak, baked potato, salad…the works. I spent some of my $20 on drinks because I didn’t gamble and wasn’t eligible for free drinks at the casino. So I didn’t have enough money to buy a decent meal, so I settled for a sandwich and chips. I complained out loud about my meal (and honestly it was awful) while I enviously watched the bear gobble up his shrimp cocktail. I was tired, hungry, in company I didn’t want to be in, and I didn’t hesitate to let Bear know how miserable I was. Not only did he not speak to me when we got back on the bus to leave, he didn’t even sit next to me on the way home.

Moral of the story: The most painless way to get out of a bad date is to have a bad date.

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