Have you ever had an utterly harmless discussion turn out to be one of your most embarrassing moments?
Growing up as part of the bar scene in the late ’70s, we spent plenty of evenings visiting different places to take advantage of drink specials, or great cover bands. We also had a “Home Base” that served us well. “Jocelyn’s” on Merrick Road in Massapequa was our place, where everyone knew your name, and you knew everyone’s name. It was our home away from home. As frequent visitors, we were more than just patrons, we were family. Forty years later, I’ve been blessed to still call most of them my friends.
But life marches on. Once we moved from college into married life, we remained friends but frequented “Jocelyn’s” less and less. When we learned the closing was inevitable, it was just another part of our lives that we had to leave behind.
Fast forward to ten years later.
Needing a new dentist, I decided to give my wife’s current one, Dr. DeFeo, a try. Although I was never a patient there, I was very familiar with the location. You guessed it, they took over and renovated the building previously occupied by “Jocelyn’s.”
It was kind of surreal to walk into that shoe-box shaped building after all these years and find it was now a dental office, with no signs of it ever being my favorite watering hole. Only the front door placement had remained the same. Once inside, though, I knew exactly where everything used to be.
I was led into one of the small treatment rooms located in the back, where the Foosball table and bowling machine once collected our hard-earned quarters. Making small talk with the young hygienist, I told her what a strange experience this was for me, regaling her with my memories of the old “Jocelyn’s.” I pointed out where the stage was located and how the bar was against the wall, where the receptionist was now. I even admitted to spending many evenings in this building. Yes, I told her of all the great, great memories and friendships I had made there.
But something didn’t feel right. Although I didn’t expect the hygienist to understand what it meant to me as I reminisced about my old stomping ground, she seemed more surprised than entertained. I shrugged it off and never gave it a second thought.
When I got home, I told my wife about how weird it was going back into the old building. I told her of the conversations I had with the hygienist and the staff, mentioning they seemed a little taken aback at my reminiscing.
That’s when she reminded me. After “Jocelyn’s” closed, it reopened as a topless joint.
Of course, I had forgotten! A giggle joint called “The Class Act” took over the building for a few years. The staff at the dental office knew nothing about my beloved “Jocelyn’s” because the previous tenant was a topless joint! Oh, my goodness, what they must have thought! Here I was innocently telling them about all the time I spent there, how it was my favorite place, and knowing everyone there, yet all they saw was a degenerate spending every evening at a topless joint! Oh, the horror!
When I arrived for my appointment the following week, I was greeted with more recognition and smiles than a second-time patient deserved. Getting settled in the chair, I immediately told that same hygienist about the terrible misunderstanding regarding my statements from last week. I explained that I was talking about “Jocelyn’s,” not “The Class Act.” She seemed to understand, and we all had a good laugh about it.
Just like when I was a regular at “Jocelyn’s,” everyone still knows my name in this building. Only this time, it was for all the wrong reasons.
Paul DiSclafani, a Massapequa resident, is a 2018 Press Club of Long Island award winning columnist and an Anton Media Group contributor since 2016.