John Lamb column: All oiled up with one place to go
Fargo is hardly a town one thinks of when planning for spring break, but last Thursday at least one downtown bar was in the beer-fueled spirit. The Bismarck Tavern took a step toward sports bar status when it hosted a sporting event -- female oil...
Fargo is hardly a town one thinks of when planning for spring break, but last Thursday at least one downtown bar was in the beer-fueled spirit.
The Bismarck Tavern took a step toward sports bar status when it hosted a sporting event -- female oil wrestling.
Before you start complaining that such events demean women, give baby oil a bad name and deliver another blow to the already shaky reputation of wrestling -- the matches were clean, so to speak.
For the most part, it was a chance for the female bartenders at the Bismarck and its sister hostelry down the street, The Empire, to settle some friendly scores. Servers faced off against each other on a slicked tarp on the floor.
Signs on the windows offered a $50 bar tab to participants who were all good-spirited, displaying that telltale show of sportsmanship, the congratulatory pat on the butt. The crowd, mostly males of the goateed and baseball-cap-wearing variety, appreciated the friendly gestures and whooped appropriately each time.
To their credit, the crowd never grew unruly and cheered evenly for each contestant. Indeed, these were fans of the sport, not of individual performers.
The bar filled up by 10 p.m., even attracting fire department personnel who checked to make sure the room didn't exceed capacity, that fire exits were clearly marked and accessible and presumably that the oil was indeed baby oil, and not the more incendiary peanut oil.
For late arrivals, the bar even supplied a closed-circuit feed to the big screen television, so those in the back could catch all the action. The camera work was a bit shaky and amateurish, frequently focusing on certain body parts rather than maneuvers, but I was one of the few who seemed to care.
It would've been nice, however, had there been slow- motion replays for those controversial calls.
Though referees looked official in black and white striped shirts, they were a disgrace to their profession. Calls were blown, takedowns were missed and wrestlers would have been justified to compete in protest. One can only assume the refs' glasses were smeared with oil.
As for the level of competition, well, there seemed to be much groping, falling about and laying on opponents. This was no Greco-Roman grappling and I don't see oil wrestling moving from the bar to the Olympics any time soon.
Not that the crowd seemed to mind. No one was looking for figure-four leg locks and the favorite moves were when bikini-wearing participants removed torn T-shirts (white, of course) and waved them above their heads.
Truly, everyone was a winner, except for those in the front row who were splashed with oil.
The outcome of each match was quickly forgotten, but the images of women wrestlers wildly waving their shirts were revived later that week in the news.
For those who missed it, in a rush to break the news of Martha Stewart's trial, CNBC and MSNBC enlisted reporters to wave color-coordinated scarves to indicate the verdict. The image recalled the early days of reporting, when stories were filed via semaphore and suggested a resurgence in semaphoreporting.
Watching all those would-be Barbara Walters and Lisa Lings shed every ounce of self-respect to shake like a Polaroid picture on the courthouse steps was an embarrassment to reporters.
And they didn't even get a $50 bar tab.
Readers can reach Forum reporter John Lamb at (701) 241-5533