Friday, September 17, 2010

The Bubble Bath, Part 6

Editor’s Note: We’re in Atlantic City, having just traversed the Boardwalk and grown a little parched. We head inside “House of Blues” for an adult beverage or two…

  We manage to enter the building just as about 3,000 other people decide to leave the establishment. Nothing like a mass exodus to make you feel safe and welcome. We claw our way upstream, Terry and I trying to keep an eye on Bubbles, because she’s frisky and could run like the wind at any second. Luckily, her alcohol-dar was in full detection mode, and she quickly located the bar/restaurant. We scampered forth after her.

  The restaurant was relatively deserted, considering it was mid-afternoon, so that was good. We would probably get quicker service, and there would be fewer witnesses should something go awry. The emaciated little hostess, whose name was probably Alexia or Bree, wandered out from wherever she hides and approached us. “Just three?”

  Just three? What, was she disappointed in our number? Was there some type of load limit that she needed to reach in order to make things work properly? “Yes, three.”

  Bree snatched up some menus off a cute little stand that might have been a gun rack in another situation, and marched away toward places where three people might sit. As we stomped along, our apparently tiny party spotted a nice selection of booths in one part of the cavernous room. Booths are much finer than tables, in my opinion. Could we possibly sit there?

  Bree glanced at this dining option and quickly shook her head. Nope. Those tables are dirty.

  I spy two busboys standing nearby, doing nothing, their eyes droopy with boredom and possible nocturnal wildness during the previous night. Is there an issue preventing them from bussing the table real quick? Is it a union thing? Perhaps they haven’t been fully trained in the fancier art of tidying up booths, because you have to dig in seat cracks and such. Maybe they are only allowed near tables sporting furniture without crevices.

  Bree, slightly miffed that we didn’t just follow her in a cow-like manner and had dared to ask questions, punishes us by sashaying to another area of the restaurant (passing about 400 perfectly decent and clean tables) and presenting our final destination with a slight flourish that she apparently learned in pre-school during the Thanksgiving Pageant. She then waits for us to sit down and shut up, so she can shove our menus at us and race back to watch the rest of “Oprah” in her special hostess hiding place.

  We pause, reviewing the seating arrangement. It’s one of those things where they have an enormous, padded bench running along the wall. In front of this are several small tables, with comfort-defying wooden chairs on this side of the tables. I’ve never liked these things, because it immediately imposes a caste system on the dinner party. We must now separate into two distinct groups, those who can relax in comfort on the padded bench, and those who must squirm on the hard chairs, feeling inferior and less-loved.

  Bubbles and I immediately dive for the bench, because we always strive for power, leaving Terry, who, to be fair, had been momentarily distracted by a woman walking by with a wig the size of Jupiter, to take one of the outcast chairs that stick out into the aisle so that uncoordinated passersby can kick the legs and make you spill hot soup in your crotch. To his credit, Terry humbly accepts the demotion. After all, we’re going to be drinking. Who’s going to care in fifteen minutes?

  We get settled, Bree hurls the menus at us and dashes off to tell other people where they can’t sit, and discussion ensues concerning our cocktail of choice. Terry finds one of those flip-card things on  the table, advertising bizarre but colorful beverages, all of them containing at least two alcohols and probably costing 15 bucks a piece. This sounds good. Why waste time on skimpy well drinks with little punch?

  After much debate, I settle on something that I believe was called an “Apple Pie”. I don’t really recall all of the ingredients, but I remember there were several, one of them Goldschlager, and it was green. That was fine by me. Even if it tasted horrible, I was guaranteed at least a minimal buzz.

  Our server makes her entrance, and I wish I had caught her name, because she turned out to be a lot of fun and we grew to love her. (We briefly considered dragging her back to Philly with us, for entertainment purposes, but we never quite got around to it.) She happily assists the other two with narrowing down their drink choices, as she appeared quite intimate with every single one of the offerings. Order taken, she practically runs to the bar and is back within seconds. Her tip automatically doubled.

  She chit-chats with all of us, mainly Bubbles, because Bubbles can talk to anyone and get their life story out of them within seconds. When our server learns that we’re on vacation, she promises to make extra special sure that we are happy. She’s already done an outstanding job thus far, so I tremble with anticipation about what wonders might be forthcoming.

  She slips around to my side of the table and leans in. “Taste that and make sure you like it. I’m not sure he made it right. It looks funny.”

  Oh? She can tell the quality of the drink by its appearance. She is really talented. I take a sip. It’s one of those mixtures where you don’t really love it right away, but it has that essence of potential joy once you get used to the flavors. “I think it’ll work. We’ll see.”

  She pats my hand. “If you don’t like it, we’ll get you something else, kay?” Then she dashes off to dazzle another table. The three of us proceed to converse and giggle.

  A short while later, because we’re borderline alcoholics, we’re ready for another round. Our server notes this immediately, even though she’s on the other side of the room, races up, confirms that we want the same thing, then makes a beeline for the bar. Two seconds later, fresh glasses of color are being distributed around  the table. Our server briefly steps aside to another table, where some belligerent person is requiring grated parmesan cheese.

  I take a healthy slug of the new arrival. Holy cow. It’s like 97% alcohol. Startled, I glance at my companions and their own drink reactions. They are both wide-eyed, their tongues already numb and unable to speak. “She must have done something,” I whisper, the fumes from my mouth setting the centerpiece on fire. “These could kill you.”

  Our server leans over from the other table, cheese crisis resolved. “I told the bartender you were on vacation.” Then she beams again, before racing off to welcome a table of 50, redesign the lunch menu, and organize a food drive

  So we drink, the thought of any alcohol-absorbing food completely gone from our minds for the time being. By the time I finish this second, life-altering beverage, I’m thoroughly happy and completely love everybody in the entire world. Ev-ree-BODY! All of us are chattering away like we’ve got cattle prods in places they shouldn’t be.

  And of course we order another round, which arrives before we can even finish our request. I suck the third one down like I don’t have any sense, which is probably the case at this point. When my little straw is no longer delivering any of the sacred liquid, I decide that I need to step outside and have a cigarette. Because what’s the joy in just having one vice going at a time?

  I leap up from the table and head toward the door of the restaurant. I’m not schnockered by any means, but everything is really pretty and I probably won’t be getting any high scores for walking in a completely straight line. Doesn’t matter. It’s not like half the people in this place aren’t hollering and red-faced from their own cocktails.

  I make it out to the Boardwalk, and light up. If I had just stood there and minded my own business, everything would have been fine. But no. I love everybody, right? And I want to talk to them. I want to talk to everybody that even glances my way. So I do. I’m babbling away, spewing out anything that comes to mind, even trying to chat with folks that clearly don’t want anything to do with me or my hand with the burning cigarette, which I’m waving about because it helps emphasize the important words that I need to share.

  Then I slowly realize that the people who don’t want to talk to me includes everyone walking by. There’s a little bubble around me as the flow of humanity parts to avoid any contact with my part of the world. What’s going on?

  Wait, am I bellowing? OMG! I am bellowing. Just like the crazy people who stand on street corners and bellow that Jesus is really pissed about something we’ve done.

  This won’t do.

  I stab out my cigarette, fight my way through the constant crowd of people always leaving the “House of Blues” building (where are all these people going?), find the restaurant again, and march up to our table, interrupting Bubbles and Terry as they are probably discussing the recent rumors about somebody bellowing on the Boardwalk.

  “I need food. Now.”

Click Here to Read the Next Entry in This Series.

Click Here to read this story from the beginning.

1 comment:

  1. I know of this need from you, I've seen the look...."“I need food. Now.”"