So a pirate, a short guy and Paul Newman walk into a bar, right?
And they meet up with two guys in tropical shirts, a car buff named Cadillac Jack and a belly dancer. And it's everyone's birthday, except for the belly dancer. And the pirate picks up the tab.
There's no punch line. This is a true story.
It happened Aug. 17 at the Forest Restaurant. But it began 21 years ago, when Jack "Cadillac Jack" Buhrman saw Matt Slovik in his yard in Forest Hill and asked if he could buy an antenna off Slovik's '66 Mustang.
No way, Slovik told him. But then they got to talking and discovered they shared a love of classic cars and the same birthday, Aug. 17.
They decided to hold a joint, four-keg party in Buhrman's car barn. About 150 people caroused for three days, Slovik says, and the tradition of the Aug. 17 party began.
The parties have quieted down a little in the intervening years, but the number of birthday boys or "boyz, b-o-y-z," as Slovik likes to call them has grown from two to seven. All met when they lived in Westover Hills, although some have since moved to live on the Piankatank River, and the last few years' parties have been held at the Forest or the nearby Cozy Corner.
Slovik, 61, celebrates by buying drinks for everyone crammed into the bar. "Sometimes it's 437 dollars, sometimes it's 752 dollars," he says. "But it's my day, it's my treat, I call the shots." This year, he also got a friend to perform a belly dancing routine, delighting the Forest patrons.
Slovik is the long-haired one with exuberant eyebrows who wears an orchid-print shirt unbuttoned to the navel. Around his neck is a coin from the Spanish shipwreck Nuestra Senora de Atocha. "We're just a bunch of crazy people that like to enjoy life, especially on August 17," he says.
Steve Sheffield and Paul Honaker, in blue tropical shirts, are both 60.
"Glad to make it," Sheffield says.
"Big 6-0," Honaker says.
Clark Hensley, the blue-eyed Newmanesque one who looks as if he must have once co-starred with Liz Taylor, is 69.
Dennis Wright, the short one, is 56. "I'm the only one who can hang with these old guys," he cracks.
Cadillac Jack turns 74. Someone hands him a drink. "Bourbon and Coke. I think," he says, and takes a sip. "Yeah. Bourbon and Coke. It works."
Motorcycle Phil couldn't make it. But there's always next year. S