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stories >> 1998 - 02 - 04

The Weekend Update

Doing 120 Blowing Over Mail Boxes
I'm going through signs like Dolemite

      Rolf and I went out on Wednesday night, so this isn't technically a week*end* update. More like a midweek update. But the weekend was of such a different tenor that I thought it would be better to split things into two.

      Rolf and I decide to meet up and get dinner on Wednesday night. Always good with me, since I don't get to see him that often these days. So on Wednesday evening at around 6:00 or so, Rolf calls me up and start complaining about how he's been stuck in a three hour meeting that was getting nowhere fast. "Mmmm, I tell him. "Why don't you just come down town and then we'll go out?" Rolf instantly agrees, and he takes off for Garden Escape.
      I go up front to engage in some menial labor of addressing post cards while waiting for Mr. Freimuth to walk in. I show Jamie my super secret quick draw style of addressing post cards. It's usually even fast, but since Jamie was watching I had to make sure that I actually line up the addresses with the rest of the postcard... it's so much easier when you can slap them on at varying angles. When I do this, I call it "art". Jamie calls it "lazy."
      So, after displaying my artistic side, here comes Rolf wandering in the door. We step outside, wander down towards town. We disregard Waterloo Brew Pub since, as Rolf put it, "The last six times I've been down here we've eaten at that damn place. Can we go somewhere else?" Uh, sure. So we decide on Miguel's La Bodega, which I just thought was a salsa dancing joint but it also has a little restaurant. We walk in and it's obviously an old warehouse that's been semi retrofitted with a kind of awkward space in the middle for the bar and some bath rooms. All of the furniture is that cast iron curlicue outdoor stuff, but it's been sprayed with aluminum paint to look like... well, aluminum spray painted outdoor furniture, I guess. There happen to be six other people in the cavernous space right now, three of which appear to work here. I always get a little nervous about eating at a place that no one else is at, but Rolf says it's okay with him. After we stand there for two or three minutes, some guy comes wandering from the back. He casually picks up two menus and asks, "Do you guys want dinner?" I'm already irritated, so I shoot back at him, "No, we don't have to" and I'm ready to walk out but Rolf's still cool and we get lead thousands of feet back into this place to a table.
      I calm down a little, peer through the menu, decide on something called "Stacked Enchiladas," and Rolf starts telling me about how he just finished reading the Mahabharata. He talks more or less continuously for the next forty minutes, telling me all about the trials of the Sons of Pandu. Little warning flags should have shot up... Rolf is a lot of things, but loquacious isn't one of them. While he's talking, I finish my enchiladas ("stacked" means that instead of rolled up they're... uh.... stacked on top of each other so they look like pancakes) and the other three people leave. After he talks himself out, he wants to know if the Mahabharata is like the Odyssey, so while he eats I tell him as much as I can remember.
      Somewhere in here the nimrod waiter seats three more people at the table right next to ours. So not only are there literally seventy free tables, but the only two taken are on top of each other. Those folks don't like it either and they summarily move to somewhere a little quieter. Rolf and I finish chatting up ancient epics and we roll out of La Bodega pretty quickly.
      Now Rolf wants to go to somewhere for a quick drink. I tell him about my recent lousy experience at Speakeasy ($6/drink, and I just missed the $5 cover charge), so we decide to not go there. We instead go to a hard to spot place called "The Lucky Lounge," right next to Ace Taylors. We find our way in and take a seat with the fourteen or so people already in there. I guess Wednesday night at 8:00 isn't really that rocking anywhere. We drink a glass of Oban and then switch over to sweet Sapphire and tonic. We listen to the bartender telling the people next to us how business is picking up, and how he occasionally hosts Trilogy parties. He goes on to lie about how much Trilogy spends per month to host things and throw parties and blah blah blah and Rolf and I just smile at each other. Ugh. After three drinks, I'm ready to quit and call it a night, but Rolf, says, "Come on man, let's have another one." Warning flags tickle a little this time... something's up with Rolf.... but I tell him, "Wow, Rolf, this is unusual, you never want another drink." He smiles at me and says, "It's still your tab, right?" and the bartender laughs and we soak up another round.
      Now I'm really ready to quit, but Rolf suggests one more place and one more round. I tell him no, he insists, I tell him no, he insists, and then "One Angry Dwarf and Two Hundred Solemn Faces" by Ben Folds Five comes on. I look down and I can feel that evil smile spreading across my face. I turn to Rolf and say, "Sure" as I slowly pound the bar with the Rage.
      Boom, tab closed, we're out the door, and Rolf's wondering where to go and I remember that tonight is, after all, Wednesday night. Wednesday night. Tonight's the night. Tonight's the night of the Ritz's "Electric Psychedelic Pussycat Swingers Lounge" night. One time last summer Cantone and I had stopped by there for a quick glass of scotch and they were showing Barbarella up on the big screen while playing Beastie Boys and smoking up the incense. We both had wanted to stay, but both knew it was a bad idea that night, so we had taken off.
Ugly gif I stole from CitySearch
      But, right now, for Rolf and I, it seems like a very very good idea indeed.
      We gulp down a slice a pizza at the Roppolo counter next to the Ritz, cough up three bucks to the weirdo with the Nehru jacket and the Caesar cut, and then we follow the sweep of his arm as he says, "Welcome" and we walk up the stairs.
      Oh yes. Oh, oh yes.

      Tonight on the big screen they are showing a collection of trailers from Blaxplotation movies. There's the classics, like "Super Fly" and "Dolemite" and "Black Belt Jones," and there's the not so classics like "Cleopatra Jones" and "Any Which Way But Up" (with Sidney Portier and a young and scruffy Bill Cosby(!)), and the outright bizarre like "Black Momma, White Momma", "Black Caesar", and "Disco Godfather." Up on the wall they've got a few slides rotating. During the night we'll see the cover of the "Mothership Connection" album, some random satin suit wearing 1970's Black hipsters, a picture of some Egyptian hawk headed god, and a Conquering Lion of Judeah. We plant ourselves up in the seats just south of the bar, and my eyes are wide open soaking in the disco ball and all the crazy shit they're showing up on the screen. Scene after scene of kung-fu, guns, whacked out cars, and totally outrageous clothes are rolling across the wall. Rolf and I are working hard on the Sapphires, and I start making noises because I'm so excited.
      Warning sign three of the night comes when the Ice Man tells me, "You know, dude, that woman over there is extremely attractive."
      Then the DJ starts really cooking up the music. We rip through "Flash Light" by Parliament, "Superstitious" by Stevie Wonder, "Disco Inferno" by whoever did that, "Ladies' Night" by the Commodores, and even "Groove is in the Heart" by Dee-Lite. People are pouring on to the dance floor, and they're as crazy as the music in the air and the pictures on the screen. One beautiful dread lock girl is decked out in this scummy old cowboy hat and boots. Another woman has her hair done up in four pigtails that stick straight up out of her head. Another Nehru jacket wearing fella is wandering around, but his jacket is lime green with a tiger skin collar. Everyone's jamming, and I'm about to burst out of my seat. I'm feelin' that glide in my slide and that dip in my hip!
      Oh yes, oh yes. Rolf goes to the bathroom just as the cigarette girl comes around. I starting thinking, "How cool, how cool, yes, a cigar is what I need." I pull her aside, and she rattles off her cigar selection until she gets to some anonymous Jamaican cigars which I instantly buy. I tip her a buck as she digs out her cutter, and some other woman comes up for cigarettes. She's 50 cents short, asks me if she can have fifty cents, and my hands are so full I just open my wallet to her with it's one lonesome dollar bill and tell her, "take what you need!" She loves me, she wants to buy me a drink to thank me, I tell her great, great, great. Rolf is back and we're smoking what taste like the best cigars we've ever had. About this time, our waitress comes back to tell us we're cut off, which is fine by me. It's about 12:30 now, and Rolf has to go the bathroom one more time before we leave.
      So I sit and smoke, and the girl who wants to buy me a drink has come back. I'm drunk enough where I don't want to drink any more, but I feel like I can't just refuse, so she runs off and brings me back a Dos Equis. Then she's gone, and I take one or two sips of the beer to ease my conscience. The beer's cold and feels really good going down, but I just can't stand the thought of drinking any more. So I smoke out the cigar and realize that Rolf has been gone a long time.
      Up the stairs to the bathroom, and there's two or three guys standing outside the door waiting. I tell the guy in front of me, "Hum, I'm worried that my friend's in there blowing his guts out." The guy leans into the door, shakes his head, and tells me, "Well, yeah, he is." Groan. The guy starts giving me the story about how "You're really hurting if you're puking in a public place." Yeah, yeah, great. So I finally get in there, get Rolf collected, and get him downstairs. I tell the original Nehru guy that we need a cab, a Yellow Cab please, could he call it? And he starts giving me static like, "There's cabs all over, guy." I'm getting pissed pretty quickly, which I suppose he sees since he calls a cab over. I put Rolf in the cab, he's off to home, and I walk back to the office to try to find my way home. On the way, it starts to rain a little, and the tiny hiss of the rain on the streets sounds perfect to me.

 

 

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