The Whistle Stop is one of my favorite dive bars in Boca Raton. Right off of Camino Blvd. in the old Winn-Dixie shopping center, it can be easily unnoticed like many of its kind.
This was the first bar I ever truly drank at. At the tender age of seventeen, I used to purchase booze for my friends with my older brother’s I.D. Don’t tell anyone…
On one fateful historic night, I discovered my peculiar love for dive bars. I remember as if it was just a fortnight ago. It was a wondrous night. That is until I got alcohol poisoning and made a fool out of myself in front of the parents. But that is a completely, somewhat unrelated story.
I was driving two of my friends, the gorgeous heavy-chested Suarez and the self-appointed American Hero himself, Glen Armstrong. A sort of hybrid involving Neil Armstrong and John Glenn. The plan was to acquire a bottle of vodka and meet up with a few others at the intracoastal bridge on Camino Blvd.
As a young Armstrong waited in the 2000 silver Mustang, Suarez and I reservedly entered the smoke-filled bar. It was like someone forgot to turn off the fog machine.
“Vodka please! The largest in stock, money is of no object here,” I exclaimed, trying to hold back the cracks and squeaks on account of the intense puberty.
We were waved to the back corner behind the bar where the liquor was stored. Swiftly connected eyes, we were both conscious that our rouse may soon be revealed. It seemed we were being lured into a back room where I would be severely bashed in by the wooden club that undoubtedly lay behind the bar. I was sure that it was used in such similar circumstances. And only Satan knows what would happen to my young counterpart after my spouting blood soaked into the maroon carpet. The color did not seem to be a coincidence.
Luckily, none of that actually occurred. The bottle and cash exchanged hands without inquiries and beatings. The grim-looking characters lurking in the shadowy corners turned out to be enthusiastic and entertaining fellows. I felt compelled to stay and have at least one drink, unaware that Armstrong’s patience would soon expire.
I ordered a White Russian and Suarez got a Long Island. I was in a White Russian phase after discovering the hilarity of The Big Lebowski. I don’t know what the hell Suarez was thinking. Maybe because she was about fifteen or sixteen at the time. It was obvious that we had yet to acquire the taste of beer.
The old lady barkeep asked if we were dating in her timeworn scratchy voice. And right before I could confirm her mistaken suspicions, Suarez blurted out, “Hell no! I’m his older sister,” as she grabbed and rubbed my buzz-cut head. “He’s my baby brother,” she said excitedly. She knew if she wasn’t quick with a response, I would say ‘yes’ and try to embarrassingly kiss her and deal with the repercussions afterwards.
A short time later, an angry Armstrong poked his dumb face in through the door. A fury raged within his eyes as he witnessed the two of us laughing it up with the regulars. It seemed our stay was about to conclude prematurely. Clutching the bottle, I paid the tab and we exited the dark, yet cheerful bar with soaring expectancies of an amusingly adventurous night.
I knew right then and there, these would be the type of bars that I’ll go to when I was old enough. A place where I can sit down at the bar and watch the game without interference from jerkfaces. Not overwhelming and not as loud as a shitty club. Where the music doesn’t suck and fashionable mainstream products don’t affect the people. No thank you. I like a place where the mugs are dirty and the toilets are overflowed with turds.
I should also note that the Whistle Stop has been under new ownership since this experience occurred nearly a decade ago…