Wednesday, December 06, 2017

The Smooth $20

There we were, four guys fresh out of high school, let loose in Montreal’s world-class nightlife.  We were just days away from starting university and the next stage of our lives, so what better time for one boys’ trip to La Belle Province for a few days of wild tomfoolery.  On our very first night in town, a tip from our hotel’s concierge led us to standing in line at one of the city’s hottest nightspots…

…okay, I’ll add in the corrections now.  The “hottest nightspot” was basically just a pub.  A busy pub, but a pub nonetheless.  And rather than a night of clubbing and bottle service, we were going to see a WWE pay-per-view.  (This was so many years ago that it was actually a ‘WWF’ pay-per-view, in fact.)  I’ll give it to that concierge, however — the man was a total pro.  A good concierge has to be prepared to find any information for any guest, so even when four dorky teenagers ask you if any local bars are showing Summerslam, you need to be at the ready.

So with information in hand, there we were at the bar.  It was a packed house, possibly due in part to the wrestling (2000 was more or less the height of modern WWF/WWE popularity) and also due to it being just a weekend in Montreal.  We were facing a long line just to get into the place, and the show was just minutes from starting.  What to do, what to do.

Picture it: 18-year-old Mark, on a big-city trip with his buddies, feeling like a true big shot.  I had some cash in hand thanks to a good summer of tips from my pizza delivery job, and it was burning a hole in my pocket.  Rather than actually spend the money inside the bar, however, I would go one further.

“Hold my spot,” I said to my friends in line,* as I stepped out to approach the doorman.  There were actually two doormen, one at the bar’s entrance itself and one sort of halfway on the landing facing the sidewalk, keeping general surveillance of the line and crowd.  It was this second guy who I approached, since he seemingly had more of an air of being in charge.  Anyone can open a door and check IDs, but surely the more experienced head bouncer would have the more difficult task of surveying an entire section of public street.

* = this was pretty needless since, duh, of course they’d watch my spot.  I was in their group.  They weren’t just going to abandon me.  I definitely lost that round of “did this need to be said?”

I sidled up to him, though in a completely non-threatening way.  (Not a good idea to just sidle up to a bouncer out of his blind spot, lest one wants a punch in the stomach.)  I leaned in and said something to the effect of “hey, is there anything you can do to get my friends and I in a bit quicker?” while slipping him a $20 bill with a casual handshake.

Of the all-time self-satisfied moments in my life, this had to be top ten.  Here I was in Montreal, going to a bar, seeing a line, thinking “not today,” and then slipping the doorman a few bucks to let us leave the rest of the plebeians behind, waiting like suckers.  I even removed the twenty before even leaving the line in the first place, then palmed it and coolly passed it to the doorman without even making eye contact.  This was before Ocean’s Eleven was released, so George Clooney was still mostly just the guy from ER and a series of largely unsuccessful films…and so at this moment, I was clearly cooler than Clooney in my own mind.  ‘Out Of Sight’ notwithstanding.

The bouncer accepted the bill, glanced at the door and said he’d see what he could do.  I said thanks with all the sincerity my virtual-adult voice could muster, and strolled back to my friends in line, ready to accept plaudits as the coolest man in Montreal…

…only to see them on the way into the bar, along with basically the rest of the line.  You see, while I was busy being Mr. Smooth, a group of at least 30 people all exited the pub en masse.  It was clearly some huge party that was letting out, and thus the bar went from standing-room-only to “no, actually, quite a fair amount of space.”  We ended up getting a prime table to watch the matches, even.  I don’t totally recall the bar being too packed the rest of the evening, so it could be that the entire line was seated at that very moment, and, if anything, it was kind of an average Sunday night in terms of business for the pub.

The moral of the story is, when you’re going to slip the bouncer a $20, maybe make *entirely* certain that the line isn’t moving.  Maybe wait a bit longer than, say, five minutes before deciding that the wait is interminable.  Also, maybe make sure you’re actually “flush with cash” before just giving away twenty bucks when you’re an 18-year-old dolt, since I think I had barely enough still on me to cover my bill.  Really, giving the guy $10 probably would’ve been sufficient. 

But still, after this first night, the REST of the trip….oh ho ho ho, now THOSE were some real crazy adventures….

…or, we just went to see baseball games every other night and were always in bed by midnight since the long subway ride from the Big O tends to just suck the life out of you.  It’s times like this, as I dangerously approach middle age, that I realize that I’ve basically been middle-aged my whole life.

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