Why Kelso's? Well, something sort of mellow with a 1:30 a.m. last call sounded appealing in our weakened state. We gathered Research Assistants Nadia, Greg and Laura and journeyed to the cute, Main Street, USA, downtown, which actually wasn't as arduous a drive as we had pictured; it's just a straight shot down Missouri Highway 9. Theoretically, it wouldn't have taken all that long from downtown KC, had we not gotten lost.
The place itself was a cool if typical martini joint in KC: vintage liquor posters covered the red walls, and skinny, red, cylindrical lampshades hung over the bar. However, we gave it bonus points because it wasn't that crowded or horribly smoky, and the bartender introduced herself as we approached, which has never really happened to us before upon a first visit anyplace. "I like it," was RA Laura's assessment. "I just wish it were more near KC."
As DJ Soul Nice spun his brand of old-school funk, soul and acid jazz in the background, we contemplated the drink menu and finally decided on a Lillet spritzer. This mix of French wine with ginger ale was described to us by another bartender as a "palate cleanser -- something you'd drink after a big meal," but it was kind of oversyrupy and wine coolery. We felt like we needed a cleanser for the palate cleanser. We also tried the South Beach martini, a blue concoction of Stoli raspberry, Midori and pineapple juice. "If I can't be on the South Beach diet, at least I can drink one," RA Nadia commented as she took a swig of that quasi-strong concoction.
Not surprisingly, one of the first groups to catch our eye was an office holiday party in full swing. OK, the real reasons the group from Lighthouse Financial caught our eye were the hot guys involved and Kelly, 35, the boss of the company, who was spilling an inordinate amount of breastage out of her thin tank top (which she had paired with a little pink-fur capelet). Oh, and they had cake, too, which always catches our attention (chocolate with red and green M&M's on top). Unfortunately for us, they were on their way out, so we did not bond enough to ask for a sugary slice.
However, another festive party soon came in. Michelle, 22, had just graduated from Northwest Missouri State with a bachelor's degree in education, and, after a night of celebratory drinking in NKC, she and her party had stopped in to top off their night. They danced wherever they found space.
"Did anything odd happen at graduation?" we asked Michelle.
"Well, there was a bagpiper," she said. "He led the procession in and everyone out. He had a skirt on."
"It's a kilt, not a skirt," said her friend Brian, 29.
We also chatted up her other friends, Sarah, 26, and Kevin, 26, who were visiting from Washington, D.C. They met at a bar eight months ago (Clarendon Grill in Arlington) and started talking about the Iraq war, which naturally would lead to l-u-v.
"So, what's the weirdest thing you've seen in a KC bar?" we asked Kevin.
"Well, people were dancing to karaoke," he replied, referring to Bar 12, where they'd been earlier. "I've never seen that before."
Huh. If those two examples pass for weirdness, then NKC is so not the place for us. Then again, it was the holidays, and the crowd wasn't really up to full strength, according to Mike, 23, a broad-shouldered, hot guy with dark hair and blue eyes (who, sadly, didn't want his picture in the paper).
We asked if Kelso's was a good place to pick up, and the info tech student at Graceland College in Lamoni, Iowa, demurred. "I don't pick people up at a bar," he said. "It's usually pointless. You go home with someone, and it's like, 'Thanks for last night,' and you don't call them again because they're boring." He went on to say that he usually meets people at school.
Ah. Mike was He's Just Not That Into You personified. We listened, we learned, and we decided not to start something with him.
In the meantime, the RAs were talking with Jen, an extremely cool waitress who's been with the bar since it opened a couple of years ago.
"She was telling us how she's had to clean up vomit and broken glass tonight," Nadia said. (One member of the graduation party, who was clad in a sexy strapless Gap dress, had been teetering precariously from drink and from stiletto heels and, at the end of the night, ended up pitching off a barstool, breaking a glass in the process.)
"It's usually slow, but you name it and it's happened here tonight," Jen added. I've dealt with belligerent drunks ... you come here, you never know what's going to happen." She told us how quite a number of work holiday parties have come through the place.
"That's when the amateurs come out to drink," she said. "There was a Christmas party the other night, and we saw some nudity. Fake boobies were involved -- we saw 'em."
Wow. Now that's some raucous holiday party. It by far surpasses hooking up in the supply closet. Or ... um ... so we've heard.