WE SCENE IT >>>
Walking upstairs to the Friends of Frankie's Club in Olympia Tuesday night, I have to admit I was a little nervous. I mean, Frankie's Sports Bar & Grill supposedly allows pot smoking in the bar - for a $10 yearly membership fee, of course.
I paid the bartender lady for membership, ordered a beer and stated I was on assignment. She just kind of laughed and told me not to talk to anyone with an eye patch or a cane, and not to smoke near them either.
It seems at Frankie's there is an unspoken divide between the weed smokers and the cigarette smokers. Frankie's owner Frank Schnarr privatized his upstairs bar for smokers when the smoking ban passed in 2008.
A little put off that we couldn't smoke wherever we wanted, but wanting to appease the old-timers, my partner in crime and I scooted off into a corner to smoke one of her medical joints.
The bartender scooted by, carrying glasses and told us that was the wrong place to smoke too. WTH?
A walk passed a coin-operated Breathalyzer machine, toward the back of the bar, where four shiny shuffleboards were parked; we found the true "smoking section."
What tipped us off was the giant, ice-filled bong, just chillin' on a table, while a group of 30-somethings played pool nearby.
Aha, now we could light up - and we did. The nervousness had passed now, and the once-over powering smell of cigarettes had faded. It wasn't long before we made friends with two guys who owned the bong.
"Carl" and "Matt" told us they were both state workers, and they both love coming to Frankie's every Tuesday night.
"Once I heard about their fight for freedom, I was on board," says Matt.
The two both claim to be heavy smokers, and true believers in "dabs" - smoking hash oil by dabbing a bit onto an apparatus that looks like a nail head, then vaping the smoke through an ice-filled bong.
"It bothers my lungs otherwise," says Matt. "Carl" and "Matt" don't smoke cigarettes.
After a good round, the conversation began flowing into the social stigmas still associated with marijuana smoking - hence the fake names and faceless photo above- how marijuana can be a performance enhancing drug (Joe Rogan, master jujitsu artist, believes), how the overall outlook for Washingtonians is health and productivity - right in line with legalization - and how Frankie's is cool for giving us an opportunity to meet other like-minded stoners.
As "Carl" put it, "We're some of those employed, responsible stoners."
And now, as if to prove it, I have a little laminated card with an American flag and my name, stating I'm a Friend of Frankie's.
FRANKIE'S SPORTS BAR & GRILL, 3663 PACIFIC AVE. SE, OLYMPIA, 360.412.1330