I actually think it may even be true though my recollection of the incident is a trifle vague. I recall Giselle sitting on my lap asking me how old I thought she was and when I guessed 30 she smiled happily and whispered back "40” as she rubbed her own pair in my face, and her rubbery bottom in my lap. It was a long night though my own boast was that I out drank, out ate and out lap danced the men half my age, and they admitted it.
Fred had decided, against my better judgement that we needed to go out on the town for a night and as we weren't working last Saturday that was the night. "Get your balls out of your wife's purse and show up at my house at 5:30” were my instructions when I demurred saying my wife liked me at home on a Saturday evening. We'll have a go at the drinking game at the Hog's Breath, beer at the Porch, strippers at Bare Assets and finish up with fried chicken from Dions he said, then we were to pass out in his man cave.
Fred is eight feet tall, built like a brick shit house and used to work as a bouncer in an LA night club after his Hollywood career foundered (he was a production assistant on the TV show Dexter). He looks like my younger brother. I felt an obligation to show up on time and I parked the Bonneville in front of his place just a few minutes past the appointed time. He and his two male roommates live in a house designed for single men with disposable incomes. I helped myself from the beer refrigerator lit up like a lighthouse in the living room, and the drinking began.
I was adamant we needed food so after picking up Joe, a lanky laconic man who manhandles glass for a living we repaired to the Brazilian meat shop called Braza Leña on Caroline Street. We sat at the bar, instantly lowering the tone of the place and sank straight Zacapa rum from Guatemala. Joe and I had meat platters while Fred had a hamburger and mashed potatoes. Joe failed to clean his platter so I helped out as I cleared my second glass of rum. I was already ahead on the eating and drinking when we left the restaurant.
I had never even heard of the drinking game at Hogs Breath but this was an evening of firsts so off we went. The crowd was intense, packed in tight, so I fell in behind Fred who swam like a shark through the swarms of little people standing around glassy eyed waiting for something cool to happen at the outdoor bar. I followed Fred's seven league boots and we stormed up flights of stairs to a secret location high atop the Hogs Breath, where they took our tickets and slipped us into a carpeted, soothingly calm speakeasy with a bar, dimmed lights and a small stage. I half expected exotic French strippers to come out of the wings and commit unspeakable sex acts on themselves on stage. Ping pong balls, champagne flutes and lighted cigarettes, that sort of thing, but instead we got a jolly all American romp with drinking, drunken innuendo and terrifying audience participation as the skits succeeded one another. I ducked behind Fred's broad back when audience members were selected. Everyone there knew Fred ("Hey, Fred!" is the mating call of the bigger breasted Key West warbler) so we had lots of female attention at our tiny table covered in beer bottles and male elbows. The drink was taking it's toll as we rested heavily on the furniture. I thought a lanky babe in a black cat suit and a bobbed hair cut looked the part and Fred choked on his Red Stripe when I suggested she was prowling the audience like a panther in heat.
Fred had never been to the Chart Room inside the Pier House hotel so we strolled over and wedged our three beards inside the tiny little skanky room. I had no idea what to drink so while Joe ordered a dreary Corona, Fred and I cast around for a suitably celebratory drink. We settled on a Dark and Stormy - Bermuda rum with ginger beer. So delicious we ordered a second round and took it in to-go cups. Which may have been the edge of the precipice as far as the rest of the evening went. To my bemused astonishment I found myself navigating Duval Street with a large plastic cup in my hand. I really am a tourist I thought to myself as we pulled up at the Porch where a glass of Belgian Palm Ale materialized in my free hand.
It was a glorious warm evening on the steps of the porch. The bar was crowded with hip young things so we workers retreated to the outside steps and sat, holding two drinks and stared owlishly at the moon between the trees and into the cleavage of passing patrons as they wobbled laboriously up the steps of the Porter Mansion, their high heels clicking on the wooden stairs.
"Good grief!" I said, in horror. "Isn't that the captain?" I asked Fred who was marginally less squiffy than me, and thus still capable of identifying incoming threats. Yup, it was he, tall and lantern jawed in a well cut pale cream shirt with a fashionably malnourished female on his arm, both laughing and apparently sober. I was having flashbacks to school years when I habitually seemed to get trapped in the pub, my presence beyond illegal, by the sudden appearance of a teacher in the lounge bar.
Fred was horny for his lap dance so my misgivings notwithstanding we shuffled down the stairs, ducking and twisting until "Hey Michael! Don't get to see you down here," he said affably, his white choppers gleaming in the half light as he smiled while cornering me in some rather intrusive landscaping. Later Fred said I was quite the spectacle, busted on my way out onto the street double fisted with a Dark and Stormy in one hand and a Palm in the other. "Where are you off to?" the Captain inquired sounding to my addled brain like the Grand Inquisitor reaching for his branding iron. "Bare Assets," I replied caught in the twin beams of his piercing blue eyes. His eyebrows rose in surprise and it turns out approval. "Good job," he said or words to that effect. I was even more squiffy by now.
Weird, I thought, the Captain thinks I'm someone I didn't know I was.
Bare Assets is huge with a large stage across the middle of the room and tables around the edges and a long dark curtained-off room painted black with a bench along the length of the longest wall. It cost us $140 to get in with a supply of coca cola and a bottle of rum at a table. The women swarmed, I grinned stupidly and their complicated string bikinis evaporated so in the reddish glow of the mood lighting I found myself surrounded by warm brown skin and strange child-like hairless genitalia. My first lap dance was with Giselle whose opening conversational gambit, "Oh my God you're English" promised a lot of explanations. We repaired to the black room where she sat on my knee and we talked or something.
"Dude" Fred said later, "you were in there for half an hour." Well yes it was expensive but Giselle spread the word there was an English guy in the room and it turned out there was a bevy of young Englishwomen touring South Florida and removing their clothes as they went. They descended on me and the fact that I was well supplied with twenty dollar bills had nothing whatsoever to do with it. It was a blast, silly and funny and pointless. I loved those women if only for a little while. I do wish modern women were allowed to grow pubic hair but I am old fashioned.
Hunger overcame me before I ran out of twenties and a return visit to the ATM was out of the question...my wife was not an eager co-conspirator in this madness as it was. I looked for Fred. Not seeing him meant he was in the black room. I had no idea in my befuddled state that unaccompanied men aren't allowed past the curtain. Hey Fred, I called out to my buddy sitting on the bench with a very thin (American) blonde woman gyrating on his genitals. He looked happy. "I'm hungry" I called out. "Time for Dions chicken," spoken like an impatient pre-teen bursting in on his parents fucking. "You can't be in here," she hissed. Oh sorry, I said and I am told I cheerfully slapped her on her perfect buttocks and strolled out, leaving them staring in astonishment.
I have been told that story three times, and apparently it is not normal behavior at Bare Assets, and I said to Fred, sadly, "I'm never going to live this down am I?"
"Nothing to live down," Fred said laughing cheerfully. "It was absolutely fucking awesome. We both loved it."
Double weird: he thinks I'm awesome because I don't know strip cIub etiquette. We got the chicken, two pieces, fried potatoes, mac and cheese and a dinner roll. Brilliantly I thought to buy a large bottle of water. We went back to Fred's man cave, turned on Justified, Season Three and wolfed chicken. "I'm done, man," Fred burped and lurched off the couch, leaving me in charge of the world's most complex remote control. The screen went dark finally as did I. At last.
I awoke the next morning to find a tall shadow leaning inquisitively over my couch. Hullo, I said, I'm Michael, a friend of Fred's. He nodded and grunted and disappeared. "There's an Irishman sleeping on the couch," he apparently told Fred in some puzzlement. "He's very polite." No one else appeared so I got up and walked out into the garden, looked up the canal at low gray clouds scudding along driven by strong moist winds promising rain. It felt as hot and damp as a whore's armpit and I was hungry. I texted Fred and got a reply that indicated he was hung over, while I was not. Score one for age and experience and a large bottle of water. I had pancakes and bacon and coffee and felt excellent. The families and their children and their SUVs looked dreary and suburban after last night, especially when I looked out and saw my Bonneville. The ride home was the icing on the cake, a gray windy day, a clear head and that perfect motorcycle. My short suffering wife took it well but when she asked why I hadn't drunk texted her during the evening I explained the words 'lap dance' and 'wife' don't really fit well in a sentence together. She didn't really understand.
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