Smugglers' Inn started as a theme restaurant in Blaine, Minnesota and has become, if not a legitimate advertising agency, then a viable agency alternative with two dedicated ad employees, Carol Henderson, art director and Jarl Olsen, copywriter. Read the whole saga in these posts or click the pirate to follow the entertaining tweets of our dishwasher, Pongo. Who may or may not be an orangutan.!/PongoTryHard

Sunday, June 15, 2014

I see by your outfit that you are a cowboy. We don't serve cowboys.

Ever wonder what people from other countries think when they see images of invariably mustachioed or goateed white American citizens prancing about in in faux-military gear, waving assault rifles and screaming about their Christian god who, apparently, wants every man, woman and child strapped?  Well, wonder no more.
     “Hey!  There’s some assholes with guns in our parking lot," said Jorge III, Smugglers’ Inn’s landscaper and a citizen of Mexico.  Jorge had just stepped into our westerly bus station from the door that leads to the outside.  All of Smug’s employees are compelled to use this side entrance when the restaurant is not officially open.  “They’re in the front. Check it out!”
I did.  Sure enough, about 50 feet from our front door three heavyset men were leaning against an older white pickup truck that had a Minnesota Vikings pennant tied to its antenna.  Each man had conspicuously strapped a black firearm to his thigh and an assault rifle lay across the pickup’s hood, as if on display.
 “Thanks. I’ll let Northtown security know,” I told Jorge III. “For now, let’s not worry about ‘em.”
  A few minutes later, I heard, “Hey, ‘choo know there are some douche bags with guns and a flag hanging out in our parking lot?”   The flag was a new addition.
  “American flag?” I asked Ramón, our bartender who claims to be Cubano-American from Florida, but who sends money back home to his family in Quito, Ecuador. 
  “No, man, a snake.  Eet look like a little kid drew it.  Had some messed up words on it.”
  “Don’t tread on me?” I ventured.
  “I din’ read eet,” Ramón said (Although couldn’t read it may have been more accurate).  “You want Jorge and me tell ‘em to leave?”
  “Naw, they’re gun nuts.  Don’t antagonize ‘em or we’ll never get rid of ‘em.”
  “Gun nuts?  Like the douche bags in Texas?” If you haven’t guessed, “douche bag” is Ramón’s favorite expression.
  “Unfortunately, they’re everywhere.  Hey, Jorge needs help moving the broiler.  Can you…?”
  “I’m on it, boss!”
  Well, the fact that our guests had Betsy Ross’d their own flag was encouraging; they probably weren’t affiliated with the NRA or any national gun organization.  Most likely, they were three guys who had met at Weight Watchers or the Herpes Connect dating site and discovered they shared a fetish for firearms.  No doubt they’d watched the confrontations between “open carry” advocates and police on YouTube and thought that the whole thing looked like fun.  Why did they pick Smugglers’ Inn to make their stand, though?  The idea behind forcing these confrontations is to show how Americans who choose to brandish lethal weapons in public are routinely deprived of their right, guaranteed by the 2nd amendment, to scare the shit out of anyone with a triple digit IQ.  The goal is to get media attention, preferably television.  Why, then, had these men chosen to brandish firepower at a freestanding restaurant on the edge of a shopping center parking lot on a Tuesday afternoon?  It made no sense.
  Erin, who was acting as our seating hostess for three weeks while her roommate, Cat, was backpacking in Yosemite, had decided to show up early, for once.  She’s may not Smugglers’ hardest-working employee, but she charms everyone with her lilting Irish brogue. 
  “Pardon me, but is anyone else a bit concerned that there are three fat bastards camped outside the front door wavin’ fookin’ goons about?”
  “Erin!  We have the situation’s under control,” I lied.
  “You called the army, then?”
  “Northtown security.”
  “Mall cops?  Fer fook’s sake, they don’t even have whistles.”
  “It’s protocol.  You said there are four of them?”
  “Three great fat bastards dressed up to look like Rambo and one little John Wayne.
  “Boom!  Boom!  Boom!” 
   Someone was pounding to get in.  As much a decoration as a functioning portal, Smugglers’ Inn’s massive front door is made from sandblasted wood and is crisscrossed with Spanish-looking beaten metal bands.  It looks like a door to keep out pirates, but it’s easily damaged.  Half of the metal bits are held on with hot glue.
  “Boom!  Boom! Boom!”
  “Fer fook’s sake, you’re not going to open it?””
  “Erin, please, just go get changed.  Unless you plan on seating my customers in jeans that smell like cigarettes and beer, in which case, we’ll need to talk.
  “You’re such a cunt,” Erin said, not offending me in the least.
  “Thank you!” I replied and went to see who was pounding on my door. 
  It was, indeed, the gang from the parking lot.  Apparently, they had just been waiting for their fourth.
  “Can I help you gentleman?” 
  One of the “gentlemen” had what I think was an AK-47 lashed to his back.  All of them had side arms in holsters.  The man in the cowboy hat must have been the brains of the outfit, for it was he who addressed me while the others stood with feet wide apart and hands clasped behind their backs.  I remember going to a Public Enemy concert in 1993 and seeing members of Chuck D’s entourage assume this same “parade rest” stance.  I snickered then, too.
  “We demand that you let us into this establishment,” said the Cowboy.
  “I’m very sorry, sir, but I cannot let you come in like that.”
  “The laws of the state of Minnesota and the 2nd Amendment of the Constitution of the United States says we have the right to keep and bear arms,” said the Cowboy.  “We are here today to exercise our rights.”
  “Our right and our freedom!” barked the guy with the AK, who looked sillier, even, than one of Public Enemy’s “soldiers”.  At least those guys could stick their chests out beyond their stomachs.
  I looked back at the leader.  And his hat.
  “I believe we’ve met before.  I believe…” I made a show of looking the Cowboy up and down. “…I asked you to remove your hat on one occasion and on that occasion you refused.”
  “Is that what this about?” yelled one of the Cowboy’s companions, who immediately dropped any pretense of a military bearing and assumed the “disappointed guy with bonehead friend” slouch.  “You and that stupid hat of yours?”
  “This is about our constitutional rights, which Obama and the liberals are prying away from us day-by-day.”  The Cowboy must have prepared this, for he said it with a straight face.  And used the word “prying”.
  “Whatever you gotta say, you can say it to security,” I said, “but Smugglers’ Inn has always had a “no hats” policy.”  I leaned in to the most pissed-off of the play soldiers ant said in a confidential tone, “It keeps out the pimps.”
  The pissed-off guy walked away.  He flipped the bird, but whether the gesture was directed at me or to his comrades, I could not say.  His buddy with the assault rifle shouted after him that he still had his gun case in his truck, but the guy just flipped the bird again.
  “In any case,” I continued, “we don’t open for another 20 minutes.  Security’s slow, but they shouldn’t take that long.”
  “Take your hat off, Jerry,” said the guy with the AK.  “If I get arrested, I don’t want them to say it was over some dress code violation.”
  “Me, neither,” said the remaining soldier, who had pulled out an iPhone. “Take it off and I’ll tape us having our rights violated.”
  “I take this hat off for no man!” said Cowboy Jerry.  
  They were squabbling outside our door when Lisa and Paul, the Northtown Security force, showed up in their little, black Rav4.  While they only pack flashlights and zip tie handcuffs, Lisa is a part-time personal trainer with a neck like a fullback while Paul has the ramrod-straight posture and “jarhead” haircut of a marine, a look made more credible by the fact that he has a bulldog and “USMC” tattooed on one hand and his other hand is a stump.
  Since our open carry patriots could hardly post video of themselves standing up to an unarmed woman and a wounded warrior with a humiliating job, the three martyrs for freedom got back in the cowboy’s BMW X5 and drove away, but not before Paul confiscated the one guy’s assault rifle. 
  “Man! Did you see that?” Jorge shouted.  By now, everyone had congregated by the front door and nobody was getting ready to open in five minutes. “He gave up his rifle like a little bitch.”
  “You know he’s only gon’ get it back,” said Ramón, adding, “douche bag.”   Ramón turned to Erin.  “What ‘choo think?  They gon’ give him hees gun back?” 
  Erin seemed to ponder the question before responding, “I tink they should make him ask for it back from someone who’s child’s been killed by one ‘o the fooking tings.”

We can only hope.

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