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The writing’s on the wall

I had just read the sign on the wall — “Beware of Pickpockets and Loose Women” — when the red-headed stranger reached out and grabbed my hand. “How have you been?” she asked, pulling me closer to her.

“Duh, OK I guess, who are you?” I inquired, my eyes twitching in fear that I was going to get caught doing something I shouldn’t.

“I’m Susan, we met on the other side of town,” she smiled and flashed her green eyes at me.

“Uh, oh, my wife is going to see us, and I’m going to catch hell,” I thought as I shot a paranoid glance toward the bar.

The Hoity Toit

421 E. Torrey
New Braunfels
Noon-midnight Sun-Fri, ‘til 1am Sat
(Credit cards are not accepted, but the bar will cash up to two personal checks a day.)

The Hoity Toit, whose motto is “You Can’t Get There From Here Without a Sixpack,” sits between the Guadalupe River and the railroad track, just a block or two from McKenna Memorial Hospital, in the 400 block of Torrey Street.

You won’t find the bar unless you drive to New Schlitterbraunfels, where the locals exploit the two rivers that flow (and flood) through town by selling inner tubes and beer bongs to college students only too happy to waste their student-loan money on river floats rather than purchasing a study guide for algebra. Of course, there’s not many of them around in the dead of winter, when South Texas temperatures frequently plunge to 70 degrees.

There’s nothing special about the Hoity Toit, a neighborhood bar, except maybe its neighbors. Around here, the jaded newspaper reporters call the locals “Riverbillies,” after their proclivity to build houses on the banks of the Guadalupe, only to see them wash away every few years. “I don’t understand, we had a 100-year flood only four years ago. It’s not supposed to happen for another 100 years.”

But that’s OK, they’ve got FEMA.

And, at the Hoity Toit, they’ve got beer — iced down and cheap. If you want to drink something else, go somewhere else.

There’s a bright blue neon sign over a stand-alone bar on the river side of the joint that reads “Asshole Section.” A half dozen people were crowded around it, shouting obscenities, communicating with their middle fingers, and feeding dollar bills into the jukebox. It was a C&W music crowd tonight.

C&W? Some people think it means Cursing and Whining, but savvy Riverbillies know it as Country and Western. However the jukebox also features a hearty, and ever-patriotic, “Star Spangled Banner” rendition by Jimi Hendrix. The pasty-faced college-kid bartender liked it so much he turned down the volume.

Meanwhile, we set the record straight at the Hoity Toit Beer Joint. My spouse made it to fifth place on the Mah Jong high score roster, and I slipped into the top spot on the trivia game, but there was no time to gloat as the Spurs game began.

We could only afford a sixpack between us, as we had pumped the bulk of our cash into the video game, so it was time to go home.

By Michael Cary

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