Got an email the other day from long time friend Travis “Buff” Goubeaux. Trav and I used to have contests to see who could bench press the telephone pole the most. One time, I swear to God I saw him arm wrestle a backhoe and you know something? He almost won. So in this electronic mail message I received from Travis, he reminded me of the time he and I, along with 3 others, went down to Myrtle Beach for a week. I’m pretty sure there were only 5 of us, but the whole trip is a haze at this point, so maybe I’m missing someone. At this point, I recall myself, Travis, Jace G., Andy Wendeln, Kent Borchers, and BJ Loughridge.
We drove down to Myrtle and checked into the Sea Cove, a charming little rats nest that actually treated us really well. A few years prior we stayed there for Senior Week and the guy that owns the place hooked us up with a suite so we decided to come back. He remembered us, so we must not have torn it up too badly. I don’t even know if the Sea Cove is still there, but it’s right on the main drag , right down from where the old Pavilion used to be. The Pavilion more closely resembles a county fair than an amusement park, but it was sort of the big landmark “down town”. Well, that and Ripley’s Believe It or Not and Mother Fletchers.
As none of us were 21, we brought most of our adult beverages with us and pretty much planned to stick around the hotel, hit the beach occasionally, and maybe attempt a few of the clubs that we know allow 18 and over. This seems an appropriate time to mention that I am the anti-club guy. I want a bar where I can belly up and drink, but since we are out to have some fun, I’m not terribly opposed. An important fact to keep in mind through all of this is that only two of us have fake IDs. That would be Travis and myself.
I don’t remember all of the details of this day versus that day and whatnot, but Trav and I had some good times with those fake IDs. Early in the week, Travis and I were down in some of the little souvenir shops and asked the local guy working there where we should go and what nights are the good nights to go where. What’s interesting is that the guy at the shop went to Coastal Carolina and knew a guy that we knew from Sidney that went there to play baseball. Crikees, I can’t even remember who that was (later remembered it was Chad Waters). Anyway, he was a crap load of worthless except for one piece of information; that night was the night for House of Blues. The only problem was that it was pretty far away.
So Trav and I partied with the others for a while before we headed to Mother Fletchers. Yeah, that Mother Fletchers. Place was dead. I can’t remember if we all went or just Trav and I, but I know what happened next; Travis and Josh decided to go to House of Blues. Being pretty low on funds for the entire trip, we likely wouldn’t have gone for this because the cab ride to get there was 40 bucks, which, we could have easily used to drink for an entire night and maybe another day, but it was too late. Fake IDs worked and we were in.
Here is where we first became aware of the cost associated with drinking in bars that aren’t designed for college kids (U. of Dayton, for example) or targeted towards the “under 21” crowd (anywhere in Russia, Fort Loramie, or other God’s Country locales). At 5 bucks a beer we knew we couldn’t last long, but after the expense of getting there and having to get back we made the best of it. Another factor we weren’t expecting was that the bar was open until 5am; which, let’s face it, is a wonderful thing. Such wonders have never reached us in the middle of Ohio.
So we’re getting pretty well on and we start chatting up with a couple of people towards closing time who tell us they are going to Neil’s after the House of Blues closes for some more drinking and whatnot. We’re like, “okay, but where does Neil live and will he mind?”. Neil’s was a bar, apparently open until 7. We call bullshit on this because they were drunk Irish girls who likely had no idea what they were talking about, but we went anyway, with no idea where Neil’s was or where it would leave us. What we were about to walked into changed our lives in a very deep and profound way for the rest of our lives.
Neil’s was a pretty unassuming place. If you thought it looked like the kind of a place that would occupy a space nobody else wanted, right across the street from an amusement park roller coaster you would be right. Downtown Myrtle Beach, at that time had a little carnival-esque amusement park called the Pavilion. Down a side road that neighbors the Pavilion sits Neil’s. It ain’t pretty, but when we saw it we were really excited for two reasons. 1, it actually existed and if it actually existed, it stood to reason that it would be open until 7 like these Celtic lass’ claim. 2, it was only about 3 blocks away from our home at the luxurious Sea Cove. We had basically thrown a dart in the dark and hit the bullseye.
Before I get to into things, let me identify for you the significance of this bar and it’s location. First, the bar. Comprised entirely of foreigners. Travis, myself, and one bartender were the only US citizens in the whole place and I’m guessing there were a good 50-75 people there. It looked like a cross from the Al’s (before the fire) and Newport Tavern. So right off the bat we like the place; fancy pants we are not. We look down and hey, there’s a dog. Just a golden retriever walking around the bar. He belongs to Neil. Next we find a seat; two old leather arm chairs that smell like a combination of awesome and cigar smoke. So the place is cherry; right up our alley. Second, the location is absolutely perfect. It’s downtown, but off the strip. Tourists aren’t even aware of it. As I said earlier, it’s only a few blocks from where we were staying, which made it very accessible and, of course, it was open until 7. Minds. Blown.
So Trav and I sit down and strike up conversations with the model UN of a customer base and start making friends. Turns out that they all came with a sort of exchange program to experience the United States. I remembered being at Kings Island years before and seeing a lot of foreign countries on the name tags of various employees, and remember a similar program. These college kids come from all over in order to work in Myrtle Beach and experience what the US is about. We spoke with guys and gals from all over the UK and Ireland, Switzerland, France, Germany, Zimbabwe and elsewhere. When we were about to leave for the night (morning), we saw a bunch of people going up to this older gentleman, shaking hands, saying thanks, etc. We asked someone who it was…there stood Neil. We decided it would be wise to say “thanks” to Neil as we left; so we did. Probably the best thing we could have done, because the next night when we returned he was at the door taking IDs. He said “hello, boys, go right in.” No need for IDs or anything, he knew us, and from that point on, we were good to go.
One thing about Travis and I; we like to drink, which is evident, but we also like to eat, and on the path back to sobriety, there was a breakfast joint by the name of Pappy’s. Pappy’s has a regular menu and all that, but who cares? They had an ALL YOU CAN EAT BUFFET. Needless to say, we ventured in. We get a seat and I excuse myself to the restroom. Upon my return, Travis has about the largest plate of meat and eggs I’ve ever seen and he’s just sitting there laughing to himself. I ask what’s up and he tells me that waitress, realizing his condition, decided it would be best to go get the food for him. Yeah, it was sort of like that all week for us. I refuse to believe Pappy, God bless him, made any money on me and Travis that week.
We finally make it back to our hotel, where we were sharing a room with Wendel and offered him a rude awakening when we decided to lift up his mattress and smash it against the wall adjacent the bed, effectively smashing him in between it. Trav and I then slept for a few hours and joined the living to start it up again. This went on every day. All of it, including smashing Wendel between the wall and the mattress every morning (what colossal pricks were we?). We drank with the guys until about 12 or so and then we went out to Neil’s. Almost every night (morning) we sat out on Neil’s deck and watched the sun come up over the Atlantic while knocking back our final beers with a few Scotsmen. The good folks at Pappys (which opened at 7) even told us they’d let us in before they opened if we got there a little early. One morning, we had a few Irishmen with us for breakfast and I remember Travis and I doing an Irish jig with these guys down Sunset Boulevard while they sang a drinking song. International relations had never been better.
One thing that bears mention is that Travis and I tried to keep up our buff appearances by doing pushups everywhere we went. In the pool. At the bar. On Sunest Boulevard at 8 in the morning on our walk back from Pappys. Other, non Myrtle Beach related places that Travis and I have done pushups was on the floor of Finnegans in South Bend, IN, Ohio St, U. of Tennessee outside Neyland Stadium, and so on and so forth. We’re huge. Despite this rigorous attempt to keep trim, I gained no less than 10 pounds that week. The fattest day of my life was this week and went as such:
- 7am finish up final drinks
- 7:15 eat as much bacon, eggs, and sausage as possible
- 8:00 pushups on Sunset Boulevard
- 8:15 smash Wendel into the wall
- 8:20 pass out
- 12:00 wake up
- 12:30 order and eat take out
- 1:00-6:00 drink beer (with some pool/beach time)
- 6:00 eat as many wings as possible at Hooters (while drinking beer)
- 8:00-12:00 drink with the guys
- 12:00 – 7:00 drink at Neil’s
- 7:15 eat as much bacon, eggs, and sausage as possible
Thus concludes my description of our trip to Myrtle Beach. We had a lot of fun and will always remember Neil’s fondly. When Travis emailed me that he’s going to Myrtle Beach, I looked up Neil’s and was sad to hear that it is now closed. Sad to think future generations of degenerate drinkers will not be able to enjoy the greatness of Neil’s like we did. RIP Neil’s. RIP.