Behind the rural gas station that serves as Car and Driver’s pork-cracklin’s-and-beer depot during southern Ohio comparison tests squats a small, unadorned cinder-block structure slathered in white paint. Somehow, we’d never noticed this building on previous trips. It has a central glass door flanked by two small windows. All of the glass is blacked out. A handwritten sign taped to the door indicated that the establishment was open and warned that alcoholic beverages and smoking are not allowed.
Because we are pure of heart, we naturally assumed this was some sort of sex shop for locals who hadn’t yet discovered the internet. Or maybe it was the clubhouse of a Satan-worshipping sewing bee. Or could it be an NSA outpost posing as the clubhouse of a Satan-worshipping sewing bee? So, with sunflower seeds and Twizzlers in hand, we pushed open the door. Now, I want you to imagine the scene in Animal House where the guys enter the Dexter Lake Club with their dates and there’s a moment of stunned silence from everyone. It was like that, only there was no Otis Day and the Knights or dancing couples. There were instead about 12 eyes staring at us in a way not unlike those of a raccoon you’ve discovered digging through your trash can behind the garage. And the only light in this one-room structure, other than the Tuesday-afternoon sun now streaming in through the door, came from video-gaming machines that lined the walls to our left and right. Eventually, the dude standing on a small platform at the back of the room called out, “Well, hey, guys! Come on in.” The gamblers turned back to their machines.
“Oh, well...uh...we’ve got to go do the...thing...with, uh...thanks.”
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