Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Lessons I've Learned, Part 3

Don't lose track of your wooden leg

Okay, some of you are going to call bullshit on this one. But I swear to God it's true.

Many moons ago when I lived in Hicktown, USA, we had to travel to nearby college towns if we wanted to go to any decent bars. Not that there weren't bars in my hometown--in fact, just the opposite. In small yeehaw towns, alcoholism is often the main industry. For instance:
--We had a liquor store with a drive-through window, for the alcoholic on the go.
--You could buy a fifth of of whiskey at the bar to take home with you, in case a trip to the liquor store was out of your way.
--At closing time at the bar, you could get a rum and coke in a big to-go know, for the drive home.
So certainly, we had bars--but these were the kind of bars where the patrons were in their 50s and up, with names like Bubba and Marvella, the kind of patrons who brought in their own koozie cups with them to house the cans of Milwaukee's Best and Pabst Blue Ribbon they were about to consume. For entertainment, you could choose from the catalogue of decade-old country music on the juke box.

But naturally, we were looking for bars with some live music, a younger crowd, and a little excitement. One bar we sometimes went to was The Paradise Club, an hour away in Warrensburg, MO. On this particular night, the drink specials were thus: 50 cent draws, $1 wells. My friend Travis was with us that night; he took $50 bucks into the bar with him, and spent it all before we left.

Travis had a wooden leg, although to look at him, you wouldn't know it. He had a good prosthetic, and only walked with a slight limp. The walking got harder as he got drunker, though, and he would fall down now and then. He also liked to dance, and if he was very drunk and you were dancing with him, you had to somehow incorporate repeatedly picking him up off the floor into your regular dance moves. He was incredibly good-natured about all this, and as long as you were too, you could dance all night. He was always quick with a wooden leg joke, and if he were wearing shorts, he'd stub out his cigarette on his ankle, amid the gasps of anyone who happened to notice it. He often wore a shoe only on his real foot, leaving the fake one bare; once, at a bonfire, he pretended to be drunker than he was, and kept "accidentally" stumbling into the fire, to see who would gasp in horror as they saw him standing there with his foot in the flames.

The Paradise Club is located up a steep flight of stairs, and some other crappy bar is below it. A group of us went to the Paradise and spent several hours there, during which Travis, as mentioned, emptied his pockets getting drunk. (Yeah, I know--he drank like he had a hollow leg. You've been dying to say it.) When it was time to leave, Travis led the way. He ambled over to the stairs...and then just kept walking, eyes front, taking no note of the sudden change in elevation that the first step presented. I remember the scene unfolding as if in slow-motion: He was looking dead ahead, not downward like a person about to negotiate stairs would. Clearly, he did not remember the stairs were there. He proceeded to tumble down them, loudly, as the crowd leapt out of his flight path. On his way down, you guessed it (or did you?)--he lost his wooden leg. He landed in a heap, right next to the bouncer. Meanwhile, he rest of us who were with Travis were still poised at the top of the stairs, surveying the carnage below. A cluster of shocked people stared at Travis and his now- empty pants leg--his wooden leg had skittered across the floor and come to rest a couple feet away. The onlookers stood frozen, silent. Remember, these people were likely already drunk--it's got to be unsettling to see a guy topple down a flight of steps, period, much less lose an appendage on the way. I've always wondered if some of them thought the fall had been so bad that it had ripped a perfectly healthy leg off this man's formerly intact body. From the horrified looks on their faces, this might well have been what was going through their minds. Travis, on the other hand, looked unphased. This was not the first time he had fallen down, nor the first time he'd had to take inventory of his legs before he could get back up. He immediately set about the task of pulling himself into a sitting position, leaning his back against the wall, and scanning the immediate area for the wayward leg. Spotting it, he asked the girl nearest it, in a tone of voice which suggested he thought this was a reasonable question, "Hey, can you hand me that leg?" The girl just stared at him, speechless. Travis looked around at the gawkers, and back at the girl, and asked, "What's the matter? Haven't you people seen a wooden leg before?" Finally someone recovered and passed him the leg, which he deftly snapped back on, and we were on our way out.

The lesson? When you're leaving the Paradise Club in Warrensburg, Missouri, hang on to your wooden leg.


leesepea said...


My left leg is held together with a titanium rod through my fibia (shin bone). I got hit by a car it it broke in three pieces; the rod was the best way to set it.

I have had dreams whereby I can remove my newly metaled appendage and whack people over the head with it. I'm often disappointed when I wake up and realize I can't do it. The scars around it are pretty gnarly, though, and people usually wince when I relay the story.

I often attempt to negotiate stairs wihtout looking down. I keep a hand near the railing, just in case. Today, wearing two inch heeled sandals, I caught a step wrong and nearly went tumbling down.

And I wasn't even drunk!

Lisa said...

lol great story! That was too funny. I'm loving your "lessons I've learned" posts...keep 'em coming!

Walker said...

Ha Ha Ha !!!
Very funny.
I have never seen that happen before but I did have a friend who would take out his glass eye and leave it next to his beer to "kkep an eye on it ".
It used to make the waitress jump everytime she came by to ask if we wanted another round LOL

Shrinking Wop said...

Okay so my wife drags me to this party. I'm drinking tequila shooters and I yell out something like "man I am getting totally blotto" as I yell it this a guy comes into the room with this limp that made him look wasted. So I yell "yeah buddy you know what I'm talkin about!"

The room got completely silent...

How the hell was I supposed to know the host of the party had his leg blown off in Desert Storm?

Maja said...

I love these drinking stories! Brilliant!!

Lyvvie said...


Very funny! when you started with your friend has a wooden leg I was thinking he was able to drink a lot, but that's a hollow leg, so I was momentarily confused. Recovered quickly though.

Keep them coming!

Katya Coldheart said...

my grandad is supposed to have a wooden leg, although i've never seen it and hes never taken it off...although he used to flip his false teeth out at every opportunity to freak us out, so now i'm thinking it might not be so true, i was such a gullible


NWJR said...


What a great story.

"He often wore a shoe only on his real foot, leaving the fake one bare; once, at a bonfire, he pretended to be drunker than he was, and kept "accidentally" stumbling into the fire, to see who would gasp in horror as they saw him standing there with his foot in the flames."

THAT is just bloddy brilliant!

Thanks for my morning chuckle...

PC said...

I remember the “to-go cups” at bars and drive through liquor stores. For a second I thought you were going to say it was North Dakota, because that sounds like every small town in North Dakota.

OldHorsetailSnake said...

Did he do pirate imitations? Or was the pratfall his best act?

karla said...

R.A.: Travis didn't have a girlfriend during the time we hung out; I don't know about now. I live in Texas and he lives in Kansas City, so we don't talk often.

Kiki said...

OMG what a great story!!!!

Your hickville sounds identical to my hickville, wisconsin!

Emily said...

I just have to ask... was his leg ACTUALLY made of wood, or was that your creative license based on a plastic prosthesis?

Because if he actually has a WOODEN leg, that is FREAKING hilarious.

In other news, I am dying laughing over the to-go cups at the bar.

Chief Slacker said...

I remeber being at a movie and before it started, this guy in a wheel chair was doing tricks up in front. After about three or four tricks and people clapping, he went to pop a wheelie and biffed it and fel out of the chair. You could hear a pin drop by how quiet everyone was. He slowly crawled back toward the chair looking hurt and when someone finally went over to help him in he stood up and said "Gotcha!"

Bastard. hehe

Luke Sonnier said...

That was an awesome story.

I'm from a very small town here in Louisiana and the bars you described early in this post are exactly the same as my home town bars.

Anonymous said...

Karla girl, you have some seriously funny stories. Thanks for the laughs!

Bearca said...

I had to say, I wondered the same thing that Undercover Celebrity did... was the leg actually wooden, or was it made of some sort of space-age polymer? I was assuming the latter, because otherwise if he stood in the fire, you'd think an actual wooden leg would go up in flames. Or, if it was wooden, maybe he had a closet full of them at home and could therefore afford such hijinks. Just thinking.

Anonymous said...

I hope he the reason he lost his leg in the first place isn't because of his one of his drunken escapades, although I wouldn't be surprised!

Tell me he lost it in 'Nam, and I'll be able to sleep soundly tonight.

Anonymous said...

OHHHHH Travis was the peanut butter guy. Damn he was cute! I forgot that you guys knew each other. Funny as hell.

karla said...

To answer your questions:

Not sure what it was made of, but you're right, it couldn't be wood. It was too tough. We all called it wooden, and he let us.

He lost his leg in a car accident with a bunch of kids--I don't remember if there was alcohol involved or not. I tried to call my friend John a minute ago to ask him, but couldn't reach him. For some reason I'm thinking there was no alcohol involved, but I'll let you know when I find out--if John even knows.

And yes Donna (le boom),Travis was peanut butter man, and yes, very cute!

Christi said...

I sure wish I had a wooden leg!

Horsey said...

Haha. Great story once again.

Anonymous said...

I was born in Louisiana and the whole go cup thing is nothing new to me...especially during Mardis Gras!

chosha said...

"We had a liquor store with a drive-through window, for the alcoholic on the go."

Drive-through liquor stores are common in Australia. There're usually attached to the side of a pub. Heaven help someone should run out of beer and have to wait in a line to get more! :)