Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The Bubble Bath, Part 22

  Editor’s Note: We have just marched out of IHOP, fed up with their crappy service, but not FED. We had to get food in our bodies, soon, or we would be lashing at each other until someone cried and/or threw someone else in front of an oncoming bus…

  Luckily, our desperate march across the continent for a secondary food-serving establishment lasted roughly 3 minutes. Bubbles knew of a nearby place that she had sampled a time or two, and had pronounced it worthy. We headed in that direction, although we did pause to tell anyone who would listen that IHOP was the work of the Devil and by no means should you ever eat there again, especially if you didn’t care for bacon…

  This new diner, whose name I don’t recall but it seems like it started with an “A” (like “Amsterdam” or “Aborigine”, something) was one of those places that was either trying to do a retro-50’s look, or had really been around since then. Hard to tell. We piled into the place, and were soon greeted by a woman who clearly learned everything she knew about makeup from watching “Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?” about 150 times. Except she was in color rather than black-and-white, and I can assure you that there is a startling difference.

  That aside, this woman proved to be our best friend, at least for the next hour. We shared our tale of woe about the IHOP down the street. Jane nodded knowingly, with that expression that certain, gossipy women have when they are pretending to not talk disparagingly about another person, place or thing, but they really are. “I’ve heard that you can wait a long time in that IHOP.” She promised us a much more pleasant experience.

  She took our orders, and the food was before us in less than five minutes.

  We loved her immensely, and we contemplated taking her with us when we left. In the end, we realized that her mission in life was to rescue other lost souls who had the misfortune to attempt eating at IHOP. This was a brave and noble career to have, and we really couldn’t mess with that kind of karma. But we tipped her as if we had discovered oil in the parking lot. We promised her we would write soon, a few tears were shed over our sad departure, and then we left.

  And thus began the discussion of What To Do For The Rest Of The Day.

  Bubbles was still strongly advocating for a run to New York City. Terry and I weren’t so sure about that. Granted, Bubbles did a great job with her promotional campaign, waving glossy brochures and such, especially when it concerned a certain locale known as “Splash”. It seems that the bartenders there only wore underwear. And on Monday’s, which this day happened to be, they also had Show-Tune Sing-Alongs. Partial frontal-nudity and queens whooping it up while Patti LuPone warbles on a giant screen? This was truly something that one should behold.

  But still, Terry and I were not keen about driving all the way to the city for only a few hours of entertainment and then, more importantly, driving all the way BACK to Philly when we were tired and still a bit tipsy. Bubbles swore that she would be the designated driver and only imbibe lightly. (A little voice inside of me instantly spoke up, warning that Bubbles was a lying wretch and the night would quickly turn into a nightmarish vision of hooliganism and tattered couture.)

  But Terry and I weakened, worn down by Bubbles’ professional ability to manipulate and cajole her surroundings into a situation that was more personally satisfying, and we eventually agreed.

  A short while later, we were on the road again. Willie Nelson might have been proud of this development, but I was still a bit anxious. Not wanting to spoil the jocular mood of the journey, I simply sat in the back of the car, mute, endlessly buffeted by the G-force winds screaming through the open windows and pinning me to the back seat. At any moment, I expected Armageddon and anguished wailing to begin.

  This did not immediately happen.

  Instead, we rolled into Jersey City, where we briefly visited with a friend of Bubbles in the apartment building where she used to live.  During this visit, Bubbles startled me by snatching up the infant child of said friend and shoving him into my arms, forcing me to deal with the lively bundle of joy. For some reason, the tiny tyke took to me, cooing approvingly, and thus we bonded forever.

  Of course, our conversation was a bit limited, having relatively little in common. He spoke glowingly about the joys of discovering, every morning, that he did, in fact, have toes. I shared with him that Uncle Brian was off to consume alcohol and watch nearly-naked men dance. He explained that he didn’t really have a reference point for such an experience, and didn’t quite fathom my anticipation, but if it made me happy, like his toes did for him, well, then, he was all for it.

  We left Bubbles’ car parked at Little Bit and His Mommy’s house, and walked to the subway. A short while later, we were climbing up to the street and working our way toward “Splash”, this supposed beacon of mild decadence and Broadway vocalizations. We slipped inside, and began partaking of the “two-for-one” drink specials. It was still a little early, so the place wasn’t packed by any means, but there were already quite a few people in there.

  Within five minutes, Bubbles was on a first-name basis with all of the bartenders and most of the patrons. Five minutes after that, she had been invited by various people to join two different law firms, manage a hedge fund, live for three months free at a small mansion in the Hamptons, and tour Europe. For my part, I managed to score us an extra bowl of peanuts. In the grand scheme of things, I think our accomplishments were fairly equal.

  Now, about this wearing of the underwear by the bartenders. I must say, it was quite refreshing, and grew increasingly more so as additional glasses of alcohol were shoved my way. Of  course, none of these guys were wearing any type of underwear that you could find at Wal-Mart. Nope, these were designer editions that conformed, supported, emphasized and enticed. I really didn’t care about the show-tune singing anymore.

  Bubbles was right there with me, mesmerized, which was fun. On the down side, Bubbles cannot quietly do anything. It’s just not her nature. So she feels compelled to yell out “Can’t stop lookin’ at em, can you?” so half the bar turns to gaze upon the Texas rednecks that don’t know how to review a parade of barely-clad man-tackle with any type of class. Great. Now I’m conscious of people watching me watch the floor show, which sucks a large portion of the fun out of it. Thanks, Bubbles. Don’t be surprised if you suddenly tumble off that barstool and I don’t help you up.

  Luckily for Bubbles’ healthcare plan, the show tunes started up, with video clips splashing across the big-ass monitors they have all over the place. Next thing you know, half the bar is singing along and you can no longer hear your wallet emptying out as you pay for continual rounds of drinks. Life was good. Or at least musical.

  Then the Architects showed up.

  I’m not sure where they came from. This was probably explained to me at some point, but it didn’t register. What did get through the alcohol barrier into my brain was the fact that these guys were, indeed, actual architects. With degrees and all that mess. This thrilled me. I love architecture. Of course, loving architecture and being an architect for a living are two entirely different things. And it’s fair to say that my vodka-soaked brain had no idea what this difference might be.

  What my brain DID know was that I must converse at length with these guys, regardless of whether or not they felt a reciprocal need. So there I am bellowing into their ears (Miss Jennifer Holliday was blasting on the sound system, but I probably would have bellowed anyway) about form and function and whatever else popped into my head. Since these conversations went on for quite some time, I was either able to hold my ground with the discourse or the New Yorkers were fascinated by my drunken Texas idiocy.

  In any case, the Architects had a secondary impact on our little trio, in that we were inspired anew to keep slugging back the drinks. This was completely unnecessary, as we were well-oiled by this point, but common sense sort of went out the door when we first spied the underwear-sporting bartenders. Complicating all this was that pesky “two-for-one” business. We kept forgetting that we had that second free drink coming, and would order another round. A backlog soon developed, but we gamely proceeded to plow through everything.

  Before too much longer, we were smashed.

  This became abundantly clear when, after a misunderstanding concerning exactly what had transpired in the last fifteen minutes during an intricately-choreographed round of bathroom visits and dashes outside to smoke, Terry and I began yelling at each other, convinced that each of us had been slighted in some profound way. We had moved beyond convivial social drinking into the realm of surfaced anger that had little to do with anything. Belligerence had arrived, that unwelcome product of excess. Drastic measures were now in order.

  We had to get something in our stomachs. After all, the only thing we’d had to eat for the last several hours had been peanuts, and most of them had been dropped when one of the bartenders would bend over and reach for something on a lower shelf. We needed some soakage.

  So there are happy asses went, piling out the door of “Splash” and heading into the night in search of sustenance, hoping to sop up some alcohol before we were annoyingly arrested for public indecency or, far worse, for not remembering all the words to “I Feel Pretty” from West Side Story

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