Another Boys’ Weekend In The Rinse
It was the annual boys’ trip for the State basketball tournaments. It was an assortment of men of various ages from our small hometown, which was comprised of a lot of characters and mostly professional recreational drinkers. My best friend Schlit and I were prepared to host the out-of-towners with some bad pub food, strong drinks and co-ed bars where they can drool over young girls that think of them as grandfathers. The first night was too much fun. Schlit and I decided to rent a hotel room rather than drive back to our homes. We crashed at a Hampton Inn, me fully dressed on a pull-out couch, he face down on the bed in the bedroom. At some point, I hear Schlit leaving the room, saying he was going to grab something to eat. I grumbled, rolled over and was back to sleep in no time. A matter of time later, I hear him return to the room, shuffle to the bed and plop down. But then….I sensed something. Lying on my stomach I looked up to the chair next to my bed. And there sat a strange man.
“What the?” I jolted up in bed.
“Um, wow, this is awkward,” confessed the stranger. He went on, “I ran into your friend in the lobby. He said there was a party up here.” Then behold the world’s longest pause. He didn’t know how to continue so I helped him.
“Clearly there isn’t”.
And he got up and walked out of the room as easy as if he’d simply dialed a wrong phone number.
When Schlit and I woke on Saturday, I chastised him for bring home strays then we laughed and made a plan to go grab lunch. You can’t be mad at Schlit when you’re hung over and hungry. We grabbed lunch and, with little discussion with each other, both ordered drinks. And Day Two of our fun was soon underway.
I intended to go home at some point to shower and change. That never happened since fun kept me in its grasp. I called my roommate and asked her to bring me clothes. I changed in the bar bathroom. I’m classy that way. The day ran into night at the Ringside Tavern where it’s not unusual to see drunks hugging each other or sleeping by 11:00am. It became our home base and strangers came and went and more of our friends came streaming in to join us as the day ran on.
A drunk Schlit was standing at the bar. He may or may not have brushed his hand against a fit young woman’s buttocks. I cannot confirm nor deny as I didn’t see it. What I did see though was this young gal’s behemoth boyfriend walking toward Schlit from the other end of the bar, eyes glaring red, I think I heard knuckles cracking. Schlit was clueless as he leaned on the bar sipping his drink, occasionally looking at himself in the mirror hanging behind the bartenders. I did what any friend would do and tried to intervene — by jumping on the giant’s back just as he was reaching Schlit. Arm around Andre the Giant’s neck, I wriggled and kicked and scratched and kicked. The caveman was caught off guard and reeled like one would if a tiny bird came out of nowhere and flew into your wig. Hangs flailing, my clinging and swinging from his neck, Optimus Prime staggered backwards – away from a still unsuspecting Schlit. Schlit not ONCE looked into the mirror to see the arm-waving comedy that was happening just behind him. Sully stepped back… back… back through a door and then we were in the men’s bathroom. Adrenline kicked in and as he stumbled backward, my feet touched the ground and I wrenched my choke hold to the right. King Kong was on the ground. “Now what,” I thought to myself in disbelief. Luckily, bar staff and helpers – not Schlit, by the way – rushed in to my aid and the guy was kicked out of the bar. Turns out said Jolly (not green) Giant and his girlfriend had a habit of fighting in the bar. Great.
I emerged from the bathroom, sheet white and shaking. Schlit remained in his own world, singing at the bar, never for a minute knowing what happened. But suddenly his attention was drawn to the girl, because she was crying. “You know why? Because her boyfriend was kicked out after he and I scuffled,“ I wanted to yell, but Schlit was oblivious to this. So, soon, he is trying to befriend the girl. And then he invites her come back to the hotel with our crew. I try to update him on the goings-on and alert him that Mr. Massive is still “out there” and we would surely be jumped – this time the oaf would be on MY back. Nonsense, Schlit conveys. I walk away from him to keep from jumping on HIS back and dragging him into the men’s room to toss him onto a urine-covered floor.
I stood waiting for the rest of our party to finish beers and gather for the walk back to the hotel. I see a Martha Plimpton look-alike standing near me and we make eye contact. I tell her I like her hair color. She says thank you and then rambles “Thanks. He likes this color. He told me stand here. So I’m standing here.” I think to myself “ho boy” and start to slowly inch away.
Eight Mile with hood up comes bounding up and flings his arm heavily around Martha’s neck.
“Hey, what’s up?”
I nod and smile awkwardly.
“Hey, you and your friends gonna go party? Want to party?”
My freak meter is going off. “Um,” I start. “We are going to go drink somewhere else.”
“Cool. You like to party,” he inquires, taking a step toward me, Martha’s head still in a lock.
Abort. Abort. The freak meter is squealing.
“Well,” I look around nervously for my friends. “We just drink. We aren’t into drugs, if that’s what you mean.”
Eight Mile found this delightful and cackled, dropping his choke hold from Martha. He shifted to an aggressive hand hold, one in which the recipient is not really considered a participant. He leaned his hoodie too close to me.
“No. No.” he chuckled and felt it important to clarify. “No, party with us. You know, a threesome,” he slithered as he gave me the once-over.
In that moment, I felt everything go completely silent. Not even a needle-on-an-album scratch for effect. I was craning my neck for someone, anyone. I made frantic eye contact with a stranger nearby who sensed my S.O.S. The stranger stepped forward and said “Hey” and stood near me to indicate we were friends.
“Hi,” I said to Samaritan-Man, then I turned to Eight Mile and said “No thanks. I’m not interested.” Why did I have to say “thanks” as if I was just offered a cream with my coffee?
Eight Mile shrugged his shoulder and shifted his attention to Martha. Lord knows what conversation followed.
“Thank you,” I said turning to the stranger who preserved my dignity. And we shuffled a distance away from the two-some-seeking-threesome. I finally got a look at this Samaritan. “Hey, you look familiar. Do I know you?”
He shifted his eyes to the floor and kicked his toe at something not there before he responded, “yeah, um, I was the guy in your room last night.”
My crew of friends came swarming at me in that second, ready to continue drinking at the hotel as the bar was closing. Somehow, the stranger was also at the same hotel so joined our party. Blessedly, Schlit’s A.D.D. mixed with drunkenness meant he forgot about inviting the crying girl to join us. Whew. Stranger guy and his 3 friends and several of my friends sat in the lobby with some bottles of whiskey, chatting and continuing the party. The desk clerk didn’t seem to care. I sensed he needed the company to work that night shift. I hadn’t noticed the Schlit left the table at some point but then one of the guys said “your friend is calling you from down the hall.”
Huh? I made my way in the direction they pointed and found Schlit with his head poking through the cracked door of some room. “Hey,” I offered.
“Hey, do you have any quarters,” he asked unflinching as he opened the door wider only for me to discover that he was standing in the hotel guest laundry room. And he was standing in only a shirt. ONLY a shirt.
“Do you have any quarters,” he repeated, fixing on keeping my eyes locked with his.
“Oh, yes. Hold on,” I tried to say casually as I walked back to my purse sitting with the guys in the lobby. They inquired what was happening but I had no idea how to explain it so I just kept walking back toward the door; The door where my half-naked friend was washing his shit-stained pants. Sigh. My life.
“Thanks,” he said taking the quarters. I turned to leave him but couldn’t help but think what he was going to do while the clothes continued their drying cycle. I backed up and looked into the window in the laundry room door. There he was, in all his drunken naked-ass glory, elbows leaning on the washing machine like he was waiting for the AAA representative to finish mapping out his trip tik.
It’s really difficult for an evening to really get any better – or worse – than that moment. Or so, you would think. I returned to the table and only the stranger was still there. We sat up awhile longer partially because it was late and we were flirting with brining a steamy closure to our initial awkward introduction. That would materialize, by the way. But the other reason to stay in that lobby was so that we could watch Schlit emerge from the laundry room as if he were casually stepping off the elevator. Priceless. I like it when the boys come to town. Lots of stories are created. And laundry washed.