Vox Lounge: Dinosaur

My daughter had a friend over to visit. They had time on their hands, so they dug out old photo albums from the early days of our marriage. The friend looked at the pictures and said to my daughter, “Wow, your mom was hot!” 

When I heard this, I thought, “What do you mean, ‘was’?”

Really, I think I’m holding up pretty well considering I can see 50 coming without straining my eyes. But to teenagers, I’m a dinosaur. They weren’t there for the carefree fun of my wrinkle-free youth.

Just call me motherasaurus.

I remembered the friend’s comment this week when I passed the former Vox Lounge in Bells Corners. Demolition crews have erected fences and posted signs; this former “hot” spot will soon be demolished.

The neighbourhood breathes a sigh of relief to finally have this blight removed from its business section. It’s time. It’s a dinosaur.

But when I look at that sad building, I see more than that.

I see the carefree fun of its wrinkle-free youth.

On December 31, 1980, my boyfriend at the time and I drove the hour into town and had dinner at this building when it was the Corkscrew Restaurant. We walked into soft lighting illuminating a huge salad bar spread out under the dome. We helped ourselves to giant dollops of whipped butter to spread on the hot rolls that we ate with perfectly grilled steaks. After dinner we went to the Rideau Canal and skated until it was time to see the new year of 1981 arrive. A beautiful memory for me.

Flash forward a few years. I was a newlywed and my husband and I ate there when it was Chi-Chi’s. (Just for fun, look up what chi-chi means in Spanish.) At that time I was not long back from an extended stay in Mexico, so the food was never quite Mexican enough for me (you have to be in Mexico to eat Mexican food), but the margaritas were large and plentiful.

After that, the place changed again to City Slickers—a country/western bar. My friends, Sandi and Laura, and I celebrate our birthdays together every year, and City Slickers was the scene for my 32nd birthday. I was seven months pregnant—out to there—line dancing to “Boot Scootin’ Boogie.”

By the time of Laura’s 40th birthday (sorry Laura, your secret’s out), the place was the Vox Lounge. The parking lot was overflowing that night, but we finally found a place to park. As we walked up to the door a young muscled man in a tight T-shirt walked out the door to have a cigarette. (It was mid-February, -15 C.) When he saw us, he said, “Well, here are some older ladies.” We laughed and walked on. When we got through the door, the bouncer said, jokingly, “Can I see some ID?” Funny guy. When we walked farther into the bar, the crowd parted around us like the Red Sea. No one wanted to catch the “old” virus. We looked like mothers coming to drag their daughters home.

We had become dinosaurs.

So, this week as I looked at the fences and the signs and the wrinkled building, I felt like the Vox Lounge and I had travelled parallel paths. While others might look at that building and see only dinosaur, I see youth, fun and beauty, too. Everything old has a lifetime of youth and fun and beauty inside.

But maybe you have to travel the road at the same time to see it.


About Arlene Somerton Smith

Writer, laughing thinker, miner of inspirational insights, sports fan, and community volunteer

Posted on November 5, 2010, in story and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. This was very entertaining, thanks for the smile on a day I needed it.
    Oh and I don’t agree with the past tense.

  2. I was working in Kanata when the Corkscrew opened – I believe it was 1978 – and a gang of us went for lunch on opening day. It was a disaster. They served drinks, but we waited two hours and never did get our food! It did improve after that – how could it not? It had a very impressive, very expensive, mahogany bar.

    I also frequented nearby Mother’s back when it was the Ponderosa Steak House. Really dates me!


  3. Don’t worry – you’re still hot.

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