Back in the eighties, I was a high school student in one of the last known dry towns in the world.
Well, at least in the province.
I was also an excessively well behaved child. If I said "Call me for a good time", I usually was hoping for a chance to go skating, swimming, tobogganing, snowmobiling, or indulging in an ice cold dip at the pits. Maybe I just wanted to watch tv at your house because we were raised pure. No television and lots of Sunday School. We were so pure that we hardly ever ate chips either so the two boxes of Old Dutch salt and vinegar that my mother bought at Christmas time vaporized like so much steam from the Sunday bubbat cloth.
I rebelled by walking two miles down a country road in the dark to watch "The Love Boat" and "Fantasy Island" at my best friend's house on Friday nights. On Sundays we'd lay in her brother Henry's smelly bed all afternoon munching on ketchup chips and working our way through Cinema One, Cinema Two, and Walt Disney. Occasionally we'd find his naughty magazines underneath his mattress. We never spoke of it.
My brother on the other hand, rebelled properly. He'd disappear for days and nights on end, drive drunk, take the car through fields for joy rides, hold entire conversations with turkeys in fields at night, indulge in illegal and alternative lifestyle choices, etc, etc. One of the sure marks of a proper rebel in Steinbach was if they exited town limits and frequented THE INN. Otherwise known as FRANTZ. My brother was a Frantz guy. Everyone knew him; both inside and outside of town limits.
Frantz Motor Inn remained an enigma to me. A place where the truly brave resided. The kids who had stared the pressure of parental and community expectation in the face and said; "nah. who cares. I'm going for a beer".
I didn't even know how to order a beer, or where Frantz really was. I thought of it as a hazy place just east of eden. I mean, east of Steinbach.
But that's all behind me now.
It has taken me a few decades to remember Frantz Motor Inn and the mysteries that it might have contained. But when it came to mind, there was really only one thing left to do.
Just as soon I got that whole awkward family vacation thing to Minneapolis over with, I rushed back to Manitoba to finish up my Triple D series.
Within hours of arriving home, I dashed out to Steinbach to pick up one of my old equally puritanical high school friends. It was time to even some scores.
Into the den of iniquity we crept.
It was indeed a dive.
The lounge side of the inn had long dark lines of slot machines tended by frizzled women who had actually never left the facility since 1981.
The dance floor mocked my limp Mennonite limbs. The dark brown chairs, cheerless tables, rows of vacant bar stools reminded me of all I'd missed. All the REALLY GREAT TIMES I'd sacrificed while skating in circles at the duck pond.
We stopped for a moment of silence in memory of the eighties, and the parts we'd played in it all.
Then I bought my friend a drink, and we set about changing history at one of the world's truly greatest and underwhelming diners, drive-inns, and dives.