My rule of thumb when picking up a woman at a convention in a strange town is to keep it cool. Limit the talk of my wife back home in Atlanta, minimize the amount of chitchat about my kids and mortgage and don’t focus too much on the unspeakable thing I would like to do to you between my motel’s sheets. I’ll buy the drinks, pick up the dinner tab and make sure that there is a condom at least in the room.
Above everything else, I’ll make an effort not to call you fat.
For the adulterer on the go, you’d think these easily to follow rules would be at the forefront of the brain. They’re the quarterback playbook on getting strange in Salt Lake and probably transferable to other life adventures. Being able to bed the flight attendant might help bag the Jenkin’s contract. Unfortunately, last night, I was witness to the greatest crash and burn in recent memories.
He was dressed in middle-age casual—jeans, a Braves hoodie and bad mustache. In a suit, he is the master and commander of the boardroom but dressed in his ridiculous attire at Keys On Main, he was just another tool bag. His prey was a pretty girl from Detroit who decided to get drinks with this wrinkly, fighting for his youth dud. They were in town for a medical conference and they wandered into the club right as I opened the doors.
Because he is trying to take my moniker of Kaptain Kool, his salutation was a loud and abrasive “where the Hell is everybody?” Had I not just unlocked the door, I could have told him I was just about to get the squadron of partiers out of their basement cage and give them their nightly ration of Jager and ecstasy but he moved right past me to the bar. Returning to my post, I asked what could I get for them.
If left to my own accord, every person on this planet would be served bourbon or tequila. It’s what Robert Mitchum drank and that sure as shit is good enough for you. The problem is that middle-aged turkeys trying to nail strange women in Utah tilt towards the greatest common denominator. I suggested our most effeminate shot and he ordered up a pair.
The White Gummy Bear is how I plan on paying for my future children’s education. A ridiculous concoction of cherry-infused rum, peach schnapps, pineapple juice and ginger ale, they taste like the aforementioned Danish candy. It’s the kind of shot first time drinkers or philanders might enjoy. They certainly did because they ordered a second round.
As his engorged prostate pushed against his decrepit bladder, he excused himself and I struck up a conversation with her. She was from Detroit, sold medical supplies and was very pleasant. She had a wedding band on and we talked about the Tigers chances that night against the Giants. Because we don’t have cable at the club, I was using Twitter to get updates and talk (misinformed) about the dominance of Justin Verlander. The guy must have been crushing and snorting a little blue pill because he was gone for quite a bit. We talked about Michigan longer than anyone would want to discuss America’s mitten before he returned.
Instead of saying something along the lines of “let’s blow this hot dog stand and find some action,” he announces that it was her turn to pay. She reached for her wallet and hands over the $24 plus tip. While I was making change, he grabbed her wallet and looked at her driver’s license. Instead of saying something human like, “Wow! You photograph really well” or “You’re much prettier in real life” or “I now know where you live and I will be stalking you for the balance of your days,” he bet against the house and said: “You’re kinda of fat in this picture.”
I’m no Casanova. At my best, I fall somewhere between John Candy and a pile of wet bar towels in the looks department. I stutter when I get nervous and rely too heavily on profanity to get my point across. When I was single, my secret weapon with the ladies was a little something I like to call begging for sex. It worked on occasion but certainly not enough to put any substantial notches on any bedpost. Yet, even at my very worse, I kept my potential lady friend’s weight out of the conversation.
She didn’t actually hear what he said but that didn’t stop me from exclaiming, “What did you say?!?” I figure it was worth repeating, and frankly, I didn’t like him. One of the many tasks that I begrudgingly perform at behind the bar is playing cupid to over-served and under-couraged knuckleheads trying to get some action. If you are tipping and not too creepy, I’ll walk over a drink to a lady guest for you. Call a nice, pretty lady fat and I think you should be called to task.
He loosely apologized for what he said justifying his comment on the fact that most people don’t look very good on their driver’s license. Most people don’t look good with egg on their face either.
After their departure, I was left with the standard Wednesday night of piano players begging for money, guitarist noodling through everything and a drummer who keeps the beat like a raccoon. Customers came and went, drank and enjoyed the show that some of us have seen many times. I constantly marvel that I make my living pouring drinks at a dueling piano bar. Not only that, this is my second dueling piano bar. The manner in which I keep my family accustomed to comes from the generosity of fans of piano players bickering at each other. Not the strongest route to a life of fame and fortune but it is definitely a living.
A living that will be called into full-bore action for the rest of the year. They say bad things come in threes. I thought after the leaf springs on my truck going out of Tuesday or the errant tree limb falling on to the power line feeding the house that this expression was simply some old wives’ tale reserved for the superstitious and criminally insane. As it turns out, the other shoe fell today—literally 15-minutes ago—when I was informed by an ESCO service rep that we need a new furnace for the house.
For those keeping score at home, I’ll recap the miserable three: no car, no power, no heat. We’d be better served living in a cave with al-Qaeda. At least Bin Laden had porn and Johnny Walker Black at his disposal. My address might be in Sugarhouse but I am living in the stone ages—some backwater, frozen Hellhole with two neurotic dogs and my breath visible in the living room. It is so cold in the house that I’m actually drinking tea drowned in bourbon to kill the taste of tea!
We’ll get through this like we have through other financial downfalls. Erin will get a fourth and fifth job to support the family, I’ll refocus my energies at the club and we’ll sell one of the dogs for medical testing. We’ll learn to read by candle light, cook over an open flame and watch our stories on iPhones charged at neighboring houses. You know you’re roughing it when you have to watch Netflix on a 3G iPhone. Talk about the stone ages.
We’ll start wearing furs of animals we’ve hunted for food, bath in the Jordanelle and spend most of the winter quietly shivering ourselves to sleep. It will be tough at first but we’ll adapt. It will be a tough life but we’ll be stronger for it in the end. Through our struggles, I hope it will bring us closer together and make our relationship a lasting experience not tarnished by the decadence of modern conveniences and the simple pleasures of a microwave.
It will be a rough go but no matter what happens, no matter how cold and desperate we become nor how many dogs we are forced to eat in order to sustain ourselves through the winter, I do know this:
I would never call a woman I was trying to nail fat at a dueling piano bar.