Over the break we took an overnight getaway to one of the casinos.
It was New Year’s Day and the place was ridiculously crowded, so instead of fighting our way to play at tables with too-high minimums, we settled into one of the restaurant bars for drinks.
Strangers talk to us – me especially – so it was no surprise when a slightly odd, middle-aged man entered the bar and focused his attention on us.
I knew just from looking at him we were in trouble. He strutted into the bar, like he was too cool for school, and ordered a drink. He could only pay with a $100 bill, and since they bar had just opened, they couldn’t really make change. So they gave him $75 in ones, bundled in 3 neat packs of $25 each.
He had a Rodney Dangerfield-esk tick, cracking his neck and continually pulling down his shirtsleeves.
We were sitting about 10 feet from the bar, at a high table enjoying our drinks. I was indulging in my favorite hot and dirty martini, and Mr. KK was enjoying a nice Manhattan. Rodney Dangerfield saw us and I knew we were goners.
RD: “Where am I supposed to put all these ones? I don’t have enough pockets!”
I’m sure he was a nice enough guy, but there was just something about him that I didn’t like.
But, I was buzzed from my martini and in a good mood. Plus, I can't help talking to strangers.
ME: “Maybe you could put each bundle in a separate pocket? Spread the out?” I gave him a smile. Didn’t want to come off as a complete bitch. Not yet anyway.
I made the mistake of talking to him. Now he didn’t leave us alone.
He was channeling Johnny Cash, wearing a black velvet blazer, black button down shirt and black pants. I could tell he had money, but his clothes didn’t fit him correctly.
He confirmed my assumption by telling us about how much money he lost at the casino, betting hundreds of dollars a hand. Was he trying to impress us?
And then, the floodgates opened.
He wouldn’t shut up.
“This is my first year being separated from my wife…We were married for almost 20 years…We were even in therapy…Then she didn’t want to be married…I used to be a lot heavier…I’m back on the dating scene…”
He was talking so loudly that people at the bar were now staring at this guy…and the poor couple he had trapped with his incessant chatting.
But he wasn’t done.
“I’m living alone…But I don’t like eating alone…I forgot how to make out in a car…”
Jeesh, where was the couch for this dude? Keep up this depressing talk and they won’t be able to call it happy hour anymore.
We were just about finished with our drinks – thankfully – and planning our getaway.
I’m an excellent multi-tasker, so as Mr. KK was telling me we should get the check, I was also listening to our new friend talk to the bartender.
ME: “Gah! He’s telling the bartender he wants to buy us a drink! We’re trapped!”
And, sure enough, the bartender came up to our table. “This gentleman,” she laughed slightly at her own words, “would like to buy you another round.”
I look at Mr. Dangerfield and say in my best mock-gratitude tone: “No! You don’t have to do that!”
RD: “Yes, I insist. You people are very nice to listen to an old guy like me. Let me buy you a round of drinks.”
I knew arguing would get me nowhere, so we thanked him and the waitress brought over a second set of martinis. Ooh boy.
And here’s where it gets uncomfortable.
Mr. Dangerfield finished up his drink and inquires about our plans for later. Instincts kicking in, I’m immediately on the defensive.
MR. KK: “We don’t really have any plans.”
RD: “Really? You two seem nice enough. I’d love to have you two join me and my girlfriend for dinner next door.”
Um, excuse me?
ME: “Oh, that’s so nice of you.”
(Translation: “Hey, Crazy Man, I don’t want to eat with you!”)
We are finding no way out of this situation so we agree that we will meet him and his girlfriend for a cocktail. We are suckers.
Rodney Dangerfield shakes our hands and tells us he’ll see us soon. He packs up his stacks of singles and heads out.
Peace and quiet at last.
There’s a bit of commotion and the bartender approaches our table. “Did he leave?” She asks. She doesn’t look happy.
ME: “I think so. He shook our hands and took his money. Why?”
BARTENDER: “Well, he never paid for the round of drinks he bought for you.”
So not only have we agreed to have dinner with this check-stiffer, but now we’re stuck shelling out another $40 for drinks we didn’t necessarily want.
That’s about all I can manage. I’m two martinis in, and not thinking all that clearly. At these prices we only planned on paying for one round drinks and then heading out the casino where the drinks were free.
The bartender sighs and moves back behind the bar. “Don’t worry about it,” she mumbles.
Now we feel badly, not to mention coerced into purchasing drinks we had no intention of buying. “We’ll pay for them,” we offer, rather half-heartedly.
BARTENDER: “No, no. It’s not your fault. We’ll take care of it.”
And apparently by “take care of it”, they meant call over every person who was working in the restaurant, repeat the story and cause everyone to STARE at us. It also meant to talk super loudly, so everyone sitting at the bar enjoying drinks now knew that we were the two people finishing drinks that never got paid for.
MR. KK: “Well, this is super comfortable.”
ME: “Look! They had to call over the guys in suits. Now THEY’RE staring at us. What’s with the guys in the suits? They can’t cancel a drink order without them?”
Now there were five people crowded around the cash register, whispering and staring.
We left a very large tip for the waitress and ran out of there.
ME: “I guess we can cross this place off our list for dinner possibilities tonight.”
(NOTE: We did NOT meet Rodney and his girlfriend for dinner. In fact, we ran by their restaurant, holding my bag up so he wouldn't see our faces. Yes, we are immature.)