The majority of my most epic, infamous and uncanny stories in college seem to always begin with, “This one time, at Devaney’s” and end, pleasantly, with a milkshake from Steak ‘N Shake or a cheesy gordito burrito from the drive through Taco Bell that refused to serve “Walk-ups”.
Even until this day, two and a half years since I unwillingly graduated from UCF and now reside roughly 1,456 miles from Pegasus Pointe, if I put my mind to it I can smell the fresh stink of stale beer juxtaposed with stenches of vomit, sweat, Long Island Ice Tea and mistakes, all bottled up and named, “Devaney’s No.5”, an odor that would linger on one’s clothes and stick to the exposed part of limbs, taking at least two scrubs with a loofah in the shower to get rid of.
Trying to explain why Devaney’s closing down is an end of an era, is like trying to explain a Neon or Nothing party to a GDI, who will anxiously chew up your words, scratch their head and place the reassuring palm of their hand on your shoulder and say, “Jen, It’s just a bar.”
But it’s not just a bar; it’s an establishment, a conversational secret password for when you meet a fellow Knight at an airport in North Carolina and on the count of three simultaneously shout “Devaney’s” when one of you asks where you fancied going out to in college. An attraction amassing on a freshman’s to-do list right after sticking their toes in the reflection pond and rock climbing at the rec center.
Here are four things that I learned from my time at Devaney’s:
1. How to get bang for your buck: Devaney’s was a place where $5 went a long way (or a long night). Today, living in NYC, $5 buys me one bite of a burger or a ride on the Subway.
2. The importance of wearing toed shoes (One time, I painfully watched a girl lose a flip flop in the bathroom and proceeded to step through murky, splashing puddles of bodily fluids and cheap liquor in order to seek shelter.
3. All of the lyrics to “Don’t Stop Believing” “Living on a Prayer” and the dance moves to “Soldier Boy”
4. The art of making friends, best friends. It didn’t matter if you were the President of Sigma Beta Whatever or a Computer Science major who just so happened to leave coding for an hour or two to indulge in the bright lights (courtesy of the strobe lights flickering from the Dj’s stage), at Devaney’s you were in such a close proximity to other collegians, and Orlando “locals”, that your new best friend could easily be made while howling the words to “Sweet Caroline” and consummated over cheers-ing with a $1 Lemon Drop.
I’m most upset because I had hoped when I finally had of-age children , who of course became Knights, I’d park our minivan in front of the spot that Devaney’s used to be, that will probably turn into (dare I say it) a Bedding Barn, and tell them stories of their once fun-loving, rad mom and laugh with them as I tell them how I once swayed the entire place into doing a conga line to a Pitbull song, leaving them in utter disbelief with a, “No way Mom, you did that….In there?”
Sigh, I guess there’s still Devaney’s one?
Jen G. graduated from UCF in 2010 after painfully filling out one of those “Intent to graduate” formsand realizing her Bright Futures money would no longer pay for classes such as “History of Rock and Roll”. She is currently living in NYC and you can read about all her most recent mistakes on her site “www.thethingsilearnedfrom.com”