south dakota, v.4

Once we crossed the South Dakota border, it took us a good portion of the drive to figure out how many times I’d been to Watertown. We finally decided that this was my fourth visit. (We based it on the number of times I’d been to the Harbor Bar, i.e. every time.)

We rolled in around 8 on Thursday night, and Judy already had plans for us. We sat around talking, had a drink, and then headed over to Minerva’s for a snack. On the way, Harlan pointed out a roadside casino that had just been robbed by a guy wielding a baseball bat with a knife duct-taped to it. South Dakota rules.

We arrived in time for happy hour, took advantage of the food and drink specials, and on the way out stopped to say hi to Matt’s 3rd grade teacher and some other people he knew from school. That’s when I was reminded that small towns freak me out. Everyone knows everyone else.

Friday, Matt and Judy and I went for our usually Watertown shopping trip. This always involves Shopko, the mall (for the sporting goods store, Herberger’s, the massage chairs, and to giggle at Fun Bags and the House of Wood), and the latest addition: the yarn store. Back at their house, we brushed up on pinochle with Harlan, and then taught them how to play Guillotine.

Friends had brought Harlan some good tequila and Cointreau from Mexico, so he was eager to make margaritas. I was excited to show him how!

The tequila may have had something to do with the dancing in the kitchen.

In the evening, we headed to Dempsey’s to see the Fly By Nights, a 50’s-60’s cover band. There was a wedding party sitting in the next section over, which struck us as kind of depressing. We tried to figure out how many of the kids belonged to the bride.

This, of course, prompted Judy to ask if we were getting married. We handled it well, I think, and had a long discussion about what makes for a good wedding. The part about what religion we were getting married in, though… that was a little uncomfortable.

As the Fly By Nights’ first set wrapped up, Matt and I headed out for our traditional pub crawl, planning to meet his parents back there later on. We noticed that the baseball game we’d previously written off was tied 7-7, the Twins having recovered from a 6-run deficit. We were glad to find the game on at the Guest House, so we could keep an eye on it as it went into extra innings.

We did not have Chuck Norris shots, thankfully, even though we first learned of them in Watertown.

After a drink and witnessing a not-great rendition of  ‘The Rose’ at karaoke, we crossed over to Duffy’s. We’d never been in there before, so we were excited to find out that it was awesome, and appeared to be the closest thing to a punk bar that Watertown has. Which meant there was a dude in an awesome mohawk at the other end of the room. Also, Duffy’s had happy hour: instead of two-for-ones, they just pour double-strength drinks from 10-11:30. GENIUS.

The Twins game was still going. There were at something like the 12th or 13th inning.

We finished our double-strength drinks and went next door to the Harbor Bar. It wasn’t crazy yet, but there were people stumbling around on the dance floor. I ordered two red-headed sluts while Matt went to the bathroom, and the bartender brought me a double. I looked at it, confused, til she asked if I wanted it in two glasses.

Do women really walk in there alone and ask for a double-shot? That’s kind of sad.

The Twins game entered the 400th, and we stood and watched the end of the inning before walking back to Dempsey’s. The Cha-cha Slide came on, so we did a half-assed version of it (in honor of Jersey from the cruise ship) while watching the game.

We saw the bitter end of the game at home with his parents. I’ve never witnessed a 600-inning baseball game before! Eesh.

Saturday morning, we got up bright and early (ok, 9am) to help with party preparations. Tradition states that every 4th of July, Judy has a baton-twirling performance. I’d only seen video of it, but knew it to be legendary. That’s why we’d decided to go over the 4th in the first place: to see it in person.

They go all-out for the party. Decorations, a ton of food, and bloody marys well before noon. The bar setup was impressive.

Max brought America-themed temporary tattoos.

Then there was twirling. All the ladies had to be part of the flag corps, which meant we marched around behind Judy waving our flags, and caused a distraction if she dropped the baton. She hardly did, though!

Learned: it’s really hard to march when you’re laughing that hard.

After the twirling, Judy announced her retirement from it. We’re totally getting her a #4 jersey to wear next year when she unretires. She can’t possibly stay away.

We played monkey nuts, then croquet. I was absolutely terrible my first game, which meant that Tucker, all of about 8 years old, really wanted to play me again just so he could keep beating me. The joke was on him when I came in second, after Matt.

We got sunburnt, then were all trapped in the garage by a sudden downpour. You know what’s even better than drinking on a patio in the summer, though? Drinking in the garage. It’s just how you do it in small towns.

We had a huge meal, said goodbye to everyone, and dragged ourselves around the house and yard, cleaning up. Once all the dishes were done and we’d mostly recovered, it was time for the casino. Because not only is the casino always awesome, there was an Elvis impersonator playing that night.

Elvis was amazing. The older ladies there adored him, even going up after his set to get a kiss and shove cash in his shirt. We were a little nervous about his gyrating hips, but mostly it was great. Also, there was a dancing midget, which I tried my hardest to not notice. When Elvis sang ‘The Rose’ and then ‘All Summer Long’ by Kid Rock, I almost fell off my chair.

We played penny slots for a bit, then Matt wanted to go play blackjack. I was unlucky; the good thing is that I never mind losing as long as I’m playing correctly. Matt, on the other hand… well, he was almost down to the felt, and then got a pair of aces. He split them, and hit two blackjacks. There’s never been a clearer sign to walk away from the table a winner than that.

On the way home from the casino, we could see the end of the city fireworks at the stadium, together with all the private displays around the lake. Next thing we knew, we were actually driving through fireworks that the people on nearby farms were shooting off. It was fantastic. Such an awesome way to end a great 4th of July.

The next morning, we rolled out of Matt’s childhood bed in some pain (three nights with two people in a too-soft double bed? about as much as any adult can handle), had a very leisurely brunch with the parents, and headed out of town, twice as loaded-down as we had been on the way there.  As usual.

To see the rest of the many photos I took in Watertown, go here!

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