He's a Maniac

The Nightfly's smokin' moves rev one couple's engines.

Lizzard's Pub (2715 Sackett) is nearly empty. We're here to enter the club's "White Boy Dance Contest," and as we bump through the front door, it appears, much to our chagrin, that the entire thing has been called off.

Or perhaps not.

After all, Young MC's mainstream geek-out "Bust a Move" is pouring through the speakers of a stereo haphazardly set on a bar next to a window, which is a good sign. Wife in tow, Twin and I are here to shake what our mama gave us, and nothing is whiter than Young MC. Save maybe Sir Mix-A-Lot…But then Young MC fades out and "Lonely Ol' Night" begins. Twin shoots me a look that indicates he's none too happy I roused him from his nap for this. "I'm not dancing to John Cougar Mellencamp, that's for goddamned sure," he huffs.

I appease him with a round of drinks and we shuffle off to a back room. Lizzard's Pub, much like its sister bar, LZ Pub (2239 Richmond), is nestled cozily into a converted house. In fact, the bar's adjoining rooms are crammed full of dark, swirled, crushed and plushed velvet couches that remind Twin of our uncle Bill's house. Which is to say the place is decorated like the interior of a private residence in East Texas, circa 1987. This is a good thing.

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In the back room, emerald-green walls give way to faux wood paneling. Old pictures of burning oil wells share space with a poster-size Astros schedule, and a Big Buck Hunter II video game beckons us with its call: "Now that's goooooood huntin'!"

Before too long we find ourselves slipping dollar bills in it and deciding whether to hunt the South or the Northeast.

"You know what's gross?" Wife asks as we shoot cartoon bucks. "Liquor and milk," she answers, her face puckered as she scoots her White Russian-like Caucasian away. I try to help as best I can.

Soon, a real live, real blond Kahlúa girl -- we'll call her Lula -- comes around with a tray of free shots. Kahlúa is sponsoring the event -- and it's fitting. Think about it: We're white, but we all obviously want to be black on the inside. How better to do that than to coat our innards with ebony liqueur? But then again, the Kahlúa she's offering is cut with Stoli and grapefruit and orange. "It's a little, and a lot," our helpful new friend informs cryptically, and the shots aren't as terrible as you might imagine. Not long later Kahlúa Lula is back again, this time with Colorado Bulldogs -- essentially a Caucasian with Coca-Cola added. So maybe we'll get to be black on the inside after all!

Wife has just gotten back from the bar, where she's been informed that last week's dance-off was "huge." Tonight's is shaping up differently. The pub is filling up, but no one has yet signed up for humiliation. Wife takes it upon herself to get the ball rolling and jots down the Brothers McMani. "The bartender said if he can get four people to sign up, he'll have the contest." What was that, Bon Jovi? That's right: We're halfway there.

Not ten minutes and two more shots of Kahlúa-and-something later, the bartender pokes his enthusiastic head in our cove. "You guys ready for this?" he prods excitedly. We are. Kinda. The Kahlúa now sits leadenly in our stomachs like so much melted ice cream. Not good for brothers with plans to "drop it like it's hot" in the near future.

Seems all this thing needed was an icebreaker. Once we signed on, five others joined in and a contest was born. Now that the game's on, we're told we'll have 30 seconds apiece to impress the judges. We are not told who the judges are, but I can't help thinking the Kahlúa girl has her say. Suddenly I wish my singles had gone on her tray and not into Big Buck Hunter II.

Also unexplained are the judging criteria. Are they looking for the white boy who can dance best -- a John Travolta type -- or for someone who can dance the most like an arrhythmic, melanin-challenged fella? It's unclear.

Twin has to figure it out quickly. He's called first. To his disadvantage, folks are still milling around in the back rooms and on the patio, and he doesn't get the crowd support of those who follow.

Such as the jerk-off who comes next. Missing a shoe, he dazzles us all with a few forward rolls that culminate in his crashing into a table and spilling drinks. Whoops-a-daisy, douche bag.

Jay follows and cuts short his routine when he realizes he's swaying seductively to Def Leppard. "Come on, man," he complains, telling the DJ that he's "gotta give me some rap or sumpin'." An OutKast number is cued up. It doesn't improve his moves.

I go next. I try my hardest dancing to a song I don't quite recognize. I throw in a couple of trusty white-man oldies but goodies -- the lawn sprinkler, the interlocked fingers/arm wave -- and call it a day.

Lance and Milby follow in quick succession, and both are off-the-chart terrible (great?) white dancers. The prelims come to a close. The room is now packed. The judges return with their decision.

Lance and I will duke it out in the finals. We will be given 45 seconds to dance side by side. Afterward, crowd applause will determine the winner.

Back on stage, again I find myself in unfamiliar territory as the music starts. I do find, though, that whatever song this is lends itself to some Jennifer Beals/Flashdance-style running in place. I'm a maniac -- maniac! -- and I'm dancing like I've never danced before. The rhythm-hungry mob screams approval like a swarm of Apollo Theater patrons tweaking on meth.

Or then again, maybe they're cheering for Lance, who is more than holding his own. Is this guy beating me? I think to myself as I dig deeper, pumping my legs harder, feeling ever sicker as the Kahlúa cement churns in my stomach. Soon the music stops, and we pant and await the decision. I wonder if I have time to puke outside before the winner is announced.

I don't.

"Tonight's White Boy Dance Contest winner is…"

Peppy bartender reaches into an envelope. "Brian!"

I've done it. I've won $100 cash and a $75 gift certificate at Houston Ski & Board. Maybe I acted the fool. But I'm rich.

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