Monday, May 23, 2011

Something Borrowed

Let me preface this story by saying that it’s not mine; and, because of this, there is simply no way I can tell it as well as its rightful owners. But my friend that relayed the escapade to me doesn’t have a blog—to the best of my knowledge. That leaves it up to me to share it with the world via On the Rocks. If he or anyone else involved should ever want to sit down and dictate a first person account to me, I’ll be more than happy to put it on the page. But it is just too good of a tale to wait until that theoretical day. As I summarized back to my friend after hearing his rendition, “It’s like ‘The Hangover’, but without the happy ending.”

Late Thursday night, after a night of making a modest income at the Rivers Casino poker tables, I met up with Pakistanimal and stopped by our favorite spot in Shadyside. We were shocked to find the place nearly empty, which is rarely the case at 12:30 am on a Thursday night. We would quickly realize that this was a blessing in disguise, though. With all of the time we’ve spent in this bar, we’ve come to know some of the staff pretty well, including “A-Train”, a bartender. And without the usual pressing crowd of patrons demanding his attention and rocketing up the decibel levels, A-Train was able to tell us about the crazy several days he had spent in Las Vegas the week before...

The trip was actually a bachelor party for his brother. Among the wolf pack would be the bride’s brother, who A-Train had never met before the car ride to the airport. Providing that ride was the bride’s grandfather, a no-nonsense old timer. And as everyone piled out of the car at the curbside check-in, the old man grabbed A-Train’s arm and held him behind for a moment. “I want you to watch over my grandson while you boys are out there. He’s a fuckup; he’s always been a fuckup. Don’t let him get into any shit!” [Does anyone else picture this grandfather looking and sounding like Jack Palance, or is that just me?]

On their first day in Vegas, “Brother of the Bride” (BOTB) quickly got obliterated at the pool—to the point where he looked like this guy. The bouncers, as you would probably expect, soon informed A-Train and the other bachelors that BOTB needed to be removed, and offered them the opportunity to do it first. Very gracious gents, those Las Vegas bouncers. A-Train and the guys walked BOTB to his room, despite his protests. When they threw him on his bed, though, he was soon lights out, and wasn’t heard from until the next morning.

As the trip went on, this became a recurring scenario. BOTB would—seemingly without explanation—get irreversibly wasted faster than anyone else in the party. But despite this, the others were able to contain him and prevent any major damage from being done to person or property. And so on the final day in Vegas, when he again turned into a blacked-out mess early in the day and the boys again put him to bed well before sundown, no one thought anything of it.

The next morning the bachelors all awoke and packed up, wary of the 11 am departure time of their flight home. All, that is, but for one guy. With only about 30 minutes left before they needed to leave for the airport, one of the party members gave an alarm that sent chills up the spines of A-Train and his brother: BOTB wasn’t in his room, and had neither been seen nor heard from since the day before. In a last attempt at remaining calm, A-Train suggested someone call BOTB’s cell phone. “We tried that. It was in the room.”

Fuuuuccccccccccccccccccccc...............

The next 30 minutes were a frantic search for clues. They packed up his belongings and lugged them to the lobby, in the unlikely possibility that they would find him down there waiting. They talked to bellhops and the concierge, hoping someone had seen BOTB. They called members of the bride’s family back in PA, on the chance that he had called back there because he didn’t know the phone numbers of the guys in the bachelor party. They called the Las Vegas police, in the event that he was wallowing in a drunk tank. They talked to the Hard Rock security team and filed a missing persons report. One of the guys in the party was staying in Vegas an extra day, and was tasked with being the main contact should any information about BOTB’s whereabouts be turned up.

As the departing partiers, including the now sick-with-fear groom, rushed through the lobby to catch the flight for which they were already late, BOTB came stumbling towards them through the front doors.

Despite being stunned by their missing comrade’s miraculous materialization, they wasted no time with explanations. They shoved him into a cab and sped as fast as possible to the airport. Along the way they learned two things:

  1. BOTB had spent the entire previous night at the strip club across the street from the Hard Rock, receiving private dances from a stripper to whom he’d taken a shining.
  2. BOTB was still, to that very moment, blacked-out drunk. He had no clue where he was, what was going on, or why everyone was so panicked.
When the group reached the front of the security line at the airport, the TSA agents took one look at the wounded soldier. “No.” Several minutes of begging, pleading, and promises to sober-up and look after him finally convinced the security agents to let them move on to the gate. Once there, party members were dispatched for coffee and food to combat the inordinate levels of alcohol coursing through BOTB’s body. They tried to get information about his night out of him, but he seemed to know almost as little as they did. Someone suggested he check his pockets.
BOTB clumsily reached into his left front pocket, and pulled out a receipt. He handed it to A-Train, who looked it over. “$1500. Damn. What about your other pocket?” BOTB fumbled around with his right pocket for a moment, finally pulling his hand out; clutched in his mitt was a wad of receipts as thick as a wallet.

He thrust the small bundle towards A-Train, who took a moment to read through them. When BOTB asked what the total was, A-Train couldn’t do it. He handed them to someone and said, “You tell him.”

Fifteen…thousand…

They asked BOTB how he’d racked up that many charges on his credit card. He told them that the card company, after a point, began calling the strip club each time they rang up another exorbitant charge. “They’d hand me the phone; the card company’d ask about the charge, and I’d say it was ok. After a while they started making me fingerprint the receipts for confirmation. And they just kept bringing out champagne…”

Member of group: “Did you at least get head or fuck her or something?”
BOTB: “No…”
A-Train’s brother: “Do you know how many call girls you could’ve gotten for $15,000?!?”

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