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Cupid’s got nothing on Marion

by Margaret E. Davis
| February 25, 2024 12:00 AM

They had me at “Anti-Valentine’s Day” in the event promo. I called my adventure buddy, and we headed to Marion.

In a building off UY.S. 2, owner Lacey Inga-Hetherington set to prepping her Sinfully Satisfied bar and casino for Feb. 14. Red string lights dotted the ceiling, balloons bobbed and shiny foil hearts glinted on the carpet while paper hearts decorated the walls. 

Unlike the banal come-ons of candy conversation hearts, these hearts said things like “Blow Me,” “Eww,” “You Wish,” “Uh No” and, my favorite, “What Was I Thinkin.”

A customer came in ogling the decor and Inga-Hetherington pointed to the couch. “Last night I slept right there,” she told him. “I had so much to do.”

People who had significant others brought them anyway, and all were welcome — even the guy whose friends hauled him in from the bar across the road.

We sat at the counter and perused the specials, to be mixed by Inga-Hetherington’s niece, Carrie Harris. We ambled to the other end of the building and checked out Sweetly Spoiled, where I bought chocolate-dipped strawberries expertly styled and packaged. I asked the woman there if she’d made them. She shrugged yes and motioned toward the bar, “with my mom.”

While we nibble on strawberries back at the bar, Inga-Hetherington straightens her apron. “I started with the bakery,” she said. “Then about five years ago we started the casino. We wanted the speakeasy feel.”

A customer comes up for the “Toxic” drink, served in a miniature pink trash can. Tina Miller wears a sweatshirt that says “Runs with Scissors” and operates a honey business out the back of the building, which she also owns.

Much of the material for her Rocky Mountain Raw Honey products comes from someone with 6,000 hives in Coram. This time of year, however, the bees do their thing in California. Soon they will return to buzz above 4,000 feet in Montana terroir.

More regulars arrive. They order drinks and the advertised “cheesy” dinner special. One woman at the bar, who runs a preschool, opts for a “Love Bomber,” a pink drink with edible glitter. Harris stirs it for the cameras, and the social media posts.

At the other end of the bar a customer with a black eye shows off the rest of her snowmobiling injuries.

The games begin. We blow out candles set in a long line on a table, competing to see how many we can snuff out. A regular gives in to pleas to take part, saying, “I’ll try, but I don’t have a lot of air.” She hits her inhaler first.

For the next game, Inga-Hetherington unwraps pairs of pantyhose and drops apples in the toes.

Tied around the waist, participants use them to topple full water bottles set in a line on the floor. My gym teacher would have loved the half-squats.

Now I too have a Love Bomber in hand. It’s like drinking a lava lamp.

The crowd shouts for us townies to join in and my friend aces it and comes through swinging, leaving a trail of slain water bottles. 

On the way home we decide we are pro-Anti-Valentine’s Day.

Margaret E. Davis, executive director of the Northwest Montana History Museum, can be reached at mdavis@dailyinterlake.com.