Village Invasion

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The inspiration for Pillage the Village — our bar tour of Prairie Village — came from an unlikely source: some guy’s T-shirt. Apparently, it’s also the rallying cry of a Borat-ish polka band. Whoever originated the phrase, we decided to steal it for our Saturday-night exploration of PV watering holes.

For Pillage the Village, we had just one requirement for the 20 research assistants who showed up: Wear Viking hats and pelts. We had to get in proper plundering mode, after all. One RA declined to don a pelt — summer’s too hot for that, she said. Another vetoed helmets based on school pride because such garb recalled the Shawnee Mission West Vikings, and she’s a Shawnee Mission East alum. RA Robert, then, was the only person besides the Night Ranger who wore a horned Viking helmet. It’s probably just as well that we also forgot to bring a boombox to blast Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song” as we made our grand entrance at these places.

The PV natives offered no resistance as we drank our way through three randomly selected watering holes in the city’s 6.7 square miles. Our first stop was the bar at the Salty Iguana, at 83rd Street and Mission Road in the Corinth shops. We strolled in and overtook the small bar area, which was basically a holding pen for diners. The walls were decorated with murals of anthropomorphic iguanas frolicking about. It was slightly scary. One was dressed in O.J. Simpson’s football uniform, and another huge herp sported a brush cut and a Royals powder-blue George Brett outfit.

The Iguana’s way station felt more like a restaurant bar than a bar bar, so we quickly finished our margaritas and headed next door to Johnny’s. The KU-friendly sports bar was festooned with the typical Big 12 crap on the walls and lined with light-wood booths. There was a cool patio out back, and the elevated bar area inside was filled with well-heeled, 40ish types. A duo of chickies in their 20s came in, dressed in their best racktastic tops. They picked at plates of fried goodies before leaving for richer-guy pastures.

We ordered a vodka cranberry before finding out that Johnny’s serves up a special $3.50 schooner of beer. Damn it. We took our fruity drink and joined our RA table. In one corner sat a gaggle of 17-year-olds from Rockhurst and Sion. They drank sodas and played trivia. “Go up and say [switching to a semi-lecherous voice], ‘Hi, I’m with the Iowa Basics Committee. And you’re in the 97th percentile,'” suggested RA Erik. We later caught the kids on their way out, and they told us that they came to watch the Cavaliers game. “Jack Johnson’s cousin comes here all the time,” joked a guy named Bill, gesturing toward the singer, who favored Dave Matthews and Bill Withers covers.

In the meantime, RA Erica, who donned the NR’s helmet, was making friends at the bar. “That’s making me kind of horny, if you know what I mean. If I wasn’t married, I’d take horny any day,” said 41-year-old Todd.

Our last stop of the night was the Blue Moose, where we arrived around 11:30. We were surprised to find a mellow atmosphere. Apparently, the crowdedness on Thursday nights (thanks to its $1.50 beer specials) doesn’t spill over to weekends.

That’s OK, though. The Moose was quiet enough to chat with our RAs and meet new people while drinking Boulevard Wheat. On the patio, we encountered 23-year-old Ashley and her boyfriend, 27-year-old Patrick. He told us to spell his name “P-a-t-r-i-c-k, with a schwa.” Heh. Love the nerdy language jokes.

After trying to tell us that he and Ashley met during a ménage à trois — and not with another schwa — they admitted meeting through mutual friends. We asked if they had any tales of pillaging or plundering.

“Well, I dined and dashed up here. The waiter said I was banned,” Patrick confessed. He then told a slightly confusing story about how he paid at the bar but was on the patio, leading the server to believe that he was being stiffed. Patrick wasn’t in disguise to infiltrate the bar, so we figured they must have worked things out.

We moved on to the next table, where we were dying to meet one of its occupants: a little white dog. Jasper, a year-old Maltese-Shih Tzu mix, sported a Coach logo leash. He was hanging out with 27-year-old Ally, his owner-slash-mom. Jasper was a friendly little thing who kept kissing everyone. “He can’t hold his licker!” quipped RA Erik. Buh-duh-bump!

Also at the table were Ally’s mom and brother as well as a couple of friends. Ally works at the Blue Moose and shared a story about her mom, who also frequents the place.

“My mom goes on a lot of first dates to find the right guy. She brings them here so we can check him out. My manager, Pat, says, ‘I like when your mom comes up here. I like to see who she brings next,” Ally said. One time, LaDonna showed up with a guy in bright-orange khakis and a button-up shirt. Ally wondered if her mom had picked up a prisoner.

“Believe me, that was the first and last date,” LaDonna said.

When last call was announced, the small crowd that remained intensified the marauding pickup efforts. “Do what you want. We’ll leave the door open for you,” said one duder to his buddy. A blonde flitted and flirted about before chatting with a guy in a white T-shirt. Then a taxi pulled up and she, the guy and her friends all piled in for the afterparty. Hammered of the gods, indeed.

Our raid thus complete, we slipped out and immediately started planning our next rhyming bar tour. Anyone up for “Drink With Me in Shawnee” or “Fun-ganoxie in Tonganoxie”? Pelts will not be optional, summer heat be damned.

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