Well Hung

"L.A." Hang Out offers a big surprise

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When I spotted the woman guzzling beer through a giant funnel, I knew we'd found the right spot.

Around 10 on Saturday night, we were on a dark patch of Florida Avenue, several miles north of Bearss, when we drove past the patio bar of The Lutz Area "L.A." Hangout and witnessed the familiar spectacle. Actually, there was a unique twist to this particular beer funnel, but we wouldn't learn about that until a couple hours later. I made a quick right and parked. Judging by the shenanigans taking place out front and the amount of cars parked in the back, I was braced for some wild shit to go down.

After all, the Lutz crew had a reputation for redneck craziness back when I attended North Tampa's Gaither High School in the mid-'90s. Those of us raised in the suburb of Northdale viewed Lutz as rough country. To the north and on the other side of Dale Mabry, Lutz was (in our teenage minds) a place where the kids wore hunting gear to school and chewed tobacco during class. We imagined outrageous keg and bonfire parties in deserted fields and brutal fistfights erupting without warning.

I was actually hoping to find members of the Lutz crew raising hell inside when my high school buddy and I entered the L.A. Hangout. Not only was this my first time there, it was my first visit to the neighborhood in at least five years.

But the Roadhouse scenario I had hoped for just wasn't happening. The beer funnel disappeared before we reached the patio bar, where a young man with an acoustic guitar performed a Matchbox 20 number. Inside, the crowd was docile and older than I expected. Even the few fellows in biker jackets were quiet and respectful. We took a seat at the huge horseshoe bar and ordered domestic beers.

It was your typical small-town/suburban bar scene, with an attractive bartender being ogled by a bunch of middle-aged dudes. To our server's credit, she was more than just a hottie; she was quick with the drinks and even took a moment to introduce herself to us. Each time I ordered a beer, she remembered my name. For whatever reason, small things like that impress me. Come to think of it, maybe I should've left a bigger tip. Oh well.

We grabbed our bottles and ventured into the adjacent room. A four-piece band called Basic Rock Outfit was on stage — a very nice stage, by the way — covering Neil Young's anti-Bush Sr. classic "Rockin' in the Free World." The crowd of 21-to-50somethings smiled and bobbed their heads. It's doubtful that political daggers like "We got a thousand points of light/ For the homeless man" resonated. Then again, perhaps only music geeks like me get hung up on lyrics.

"I need some booties up here," said the singer with the droopy black bangs. The band performed Steve Miller's "The Joker," and the ladies crowded the dance floor. My buddy and I watched the television above us. It was a rerun of Ultimate Fighting Championship. Chuck "The Iceman" Liddell was throwing aimless haymakers and sucking wind, about to lose his first bout, according to my buddy. "That's probably not the best thing to have on at a bar," he said.

The closest we came to violence was when we left the music room and returned to the bar. Like the no-common-sense "gifted" student in the classic Far Side cartoon, I pushed on a door that needed to be pulled. A middle-aged woman observed my foolishness. I joked that I was checking the door or something stupid like that. She giggled. Her man, who had his arm around her, glared me down as if I were flirting with his gal who, how can I put this, was not quite a looker.

Before leaving, we decided to spend some time on the patio. The bartender was performing tricks à la Tom Cruise in Cocktail. My friend wasn't amused. "That shit annoys me," he said. "Just make my drink already."

We took a seat at a table. As it happened, we should've stayed on our stools. Shortly after we relocated, a young woman strolled up to where we'd been sitting and out came the beer funnel. On closer inspection, I saw that it was not just your run-of-the-mill, frat-house alcohol consumption tool. Oh no. The end of the hose was fitted with a giant ribbed dildo. While the people at the bar cheered "chug, chug, chug," the woman gripped the enormous plastic penis with both hands, put her mouth up to it and gulped away. Let's just say it was an interesting visual.

Lutz Area Hangout, 16411 N. Florida Ave., Tampa. 813-964-5631 or thehangoutbar.com.

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