339 N. 11th St. 215.925.3343 It's all my friend Tafari's fault. When he suggests an evening's indulgence at J&J; Trestle Inn, I readily admit I've never visited the establishment (indeed, I'd never heard of it before).
"Neither have I, but I've been past it a million times and never gone in," he says. "It looks like the ultimate dive. Screw it. Let's do this."
Now bear in mind Tafari's not the most reliable of chaps, having led me to more bars than I care to mention that have either changed beyond recognition or in some cases have closed entirely. So there's a certain air of trepidation as we head out. This is only compounded by the cabbie who drops us a block away, looks at us with mild incredulity when we inform him where we're heading, then takes off at high speed.
We stride into the bar and I instantly feel like the whitest man on earth. But it's cool--the predominantly middle-aged brothers at the end of the bar glance up briefly, then get back to the serious task of boozing while I take in my surroundings.
This, I think to myself, is near perfection. Deep red curtains and furnishings, disco lights, a glitter ball, a pool table out back and a jukebox that's funky beyond belief. It's retro-tastic. Indeed, it's as if time stood still back in '76. Seriously, Huggy Bear himself would've dug this place. I'm definitely digging it, and the booze prices make me even happier: two beers and two whiskies for less than $10.
I also notice with considerable interest a plethora of signs seemingly plastered on every inch of available space--"NO DRUGS," "NO GUNS," "NO TANK TOPS," "NO BAGGY PANTS," "NO SNEAKERS." Hey, a place has gotta have standards and a sense of style.
We sit and sip our drinks in blissful contentment, when suddenly the music slows down, the lights dim slightly and as I glance over my shoulder, I almost choke on my Yuengling. As if from nowhere, a very large, very middle-aged, very undressed woman--wearing nothing but a G-string, thigh boots and a smile--is gyrating down a pole behind me.
I'm shocked. I hardly know where to look. I'm sure other guys--more manly types--are used to this sort of thing, but personally, I find it difficult to get shitfaced when some behemoth of a woman is grinding her over-ample butt inches from my face. It throws your curve somewhat.
"Jesus! No one told me this was a titty bar!" exclaims my friend in utter astonishment.
The bar maid laughs. "Honey, didn't you read the sign?"
"Sign? What sign?"
"The bigass one outside that says 'LARGE, LOVELY, LADIES.'"
Damn. She's right. It was so obvious that we missed it completely. I start to laugh hysterically, and then glance above the bar. There's a huge banner announcing: "Large-figure exotic dancers. DJ Bob will host a large-figure exotic dancer contest. (There will be two weight categories: 175 pounds and 200 pounds. Ladies--which size are you?)"
Just when I think it can't get any more surreal, a diminutive fresh-faced Korean guy, with all the enthusiasm of a six-month-old puppy, sits down and introduces himself.
Jack, apparently, is from Seoul. He's been in Philly for three months studying English and working at his family's printing company. He lives directly above the bar. He's not sure if he likes Philly yet, but he readily admits he hasn't been out much. For the record, Jack generally likes petite Korean girls, but is not averse to the occasional fat-bottomed honey he encounters at J&J; Trestle's.
The evening then blurs into a hazy, whiskey-soaked bout of mutual camaraderie, as we toast each other's countries, bond over our love of international soccer and launch a spirited group rendition of Queen's "Fat Bottomed Girls."
What a wonderful world we live in. (Neil Ferguson)