Southern Gentlemen

Contrary to what I might convey (and often think to myself), not all of my first dates have been with people that I have met online. A few years back, a roommate decided to set me up with a friend of the guy she was seeing. Originally from Texas, his name was Brandon and he worked for a major company producing a radio sports program that aired live every morning. He sounded nice enough on the phone, and he definitely had the Texas drawl, so we planned to meet a few days later for a drink.

I met Brandon at the bar at the W Hotel, which made me feel chic. Clearly, it doesn’t take much for that to happen. He was decent-looking, average height with brown hair and eyes, dressed appropriately and was pretty laidback when we first met up. As we sat in the lounge area, Brandon explained that he goes out for drinks quite often during the week, as it is almost a requirement for his job. Being such a high-society player myself (stop laughing), I nodded as though I understood the entertainment business and the lifestyle that goes along with it. “How do you function every day for the morning show you produce if you are partying every night?” I wondered aloud. He explained that he typically has only one drink, if anything, and ends up going home relatively early when he does his professional socializing. “Honestly, I don’t ever really get drunk,” he said. Fair enough.

On my way back from the very chic ladies room a bit later, I noticed that John Mayer was standing at the front desk of the hotel lobby. I overheard him saying to a minion that the odor in his room was atrocious and something needed to be done. Personally, I believe it might have been his own body he smelled, but the complaint was being taken seriously nonetheless. Feeling honored for being in the same vicinity as the dirty crooner, I walked back to Brandon excited to share my tale when I noticed that he was surrounded by about 4 extremely tall men in suits. I put on my best fake smile as I stood next to all of them while Brandon rambled about some sports crap with them. Apparently, they were members of a college basketball team and he knew them very well. Blah blah blah…some other sports stuff. Then we were on to the next part of our night.

We went to a lounge in the same area that we started that was called “Suede.” My research tells me that this one-word gem is now closed. This is sad because I have great memories from my few hours there that night. For one thing, there was a really cute bartender in the downstairs area that I started chatting up when Brandon got annoying. Yet, another reason was that since he actually knew the staff of the lounge, we got to hang out in the “VIP” area. In retrospect, I was just excited that I was allowed to smoke cigarettes in our little section while the rest of the clientele could not. Oh yeah, and Charles Barkley was also there. Alone. I was once again star-struck, and got really excited about hearing anything he had to say while he sat with his knees nearly hitting him in his face. I suppose it isn’t too comfortable to be squeezed into a tiny area when you are a giant. Of course, Brandon “knew” Charles and immediately started chatting him up about basketball. So I sat on one side of Brandon. Charles was on the other. It was pretty loud so I couldn’t hear their conversation. Charles had bought us a round of drinks (tee hee!) and once I was done with my 5th cigarette, I got bored. I’m pretty sure Charles was uninterested as well. My logic is as follows: if your entire career and life is all about basketball, how much can you possibly talk about it? Especially at a lounge? I tapped Brandon and said I was going to go to the downstairs bar for a bit. My new bartender friend would definitely pay more attention to me. I wish I was able to bring Charles along. It didn’t matter anyway. Brandon grabbed my arm and said, a bit too authoritatively, “DO NOT leave me alone with Charles.” Some would say he should not be telling me what to do, and that he seemed to have some major ego problems. I would agree, but I listened to him and stayed.

Good thing I stayed. Finally, when Brandon shut up for a minute, I had the opportunity to share my independent social genius with Charles Barkley.

Me: (beaming from ear to ear for no real reason) “I like your watch!”

Charles: (looks down at the giant set of diamonds and platinum covering half of his forearm) “Thanks. I buy my watches like I buy my homes.”

Me: (smiling, in some sort of dreamland) “Ha ha, right. Me too!”

Wait, what? There’s no way that statement, or my agreement for that matter, ever did or ever will, make sense. Eh, that doesn’t matter. We were buddies now! A little while later, when Charles was leaving, he hugged and kissed me on the cheek, and said, “It was verrra nice to meet you. You’re a verrra pretty girl.” Why wasn’t I out with Charles instead?!? I love that man.

Soon after, Brandon and I moved on to the third destination of the night. The club “Air” has since closed just like Suede. Not only did my date flirt with a tiny man named Antoine to get through the velvet ropes of this amazing place, but we hung out with yet another celebrity! Sadly, I have no recollection of his name, but I do remember that he was beautiful and approximately 9 feet tall. And he was another charming guy related to sports. I’m pretty sure someone mentioned that he was on ESPN’s “Cold Pizza.” None of that really matters. The point is that I really didn’t care about my date at all, but was having a great time at the places we went to by myself. As a matter of fact, I was walking around the club and happily dancing a little bit on my own when Brandon came up to me, complete with a rumpled and now-stained shirt, his eyes looking in two different directions and slurring “there you are!” I guess this was one of those nights where he did, indeed, “get drunk.” It was time for the social outing portion of the date to come to a close.

So here’s the part where I have to beg you not to judge me. I know, I know – why wouldn’t you do that when that is what I do to others throughout this entire blog? Well, I would think you just like me better, no?

I went back to Brandon’s apartment. I SWEAR on all that is holy that I wasn’t planning on doing anything slutty or indecent, and I admit that it was a horrible decision to even walk through the door with him. But I did, and I hung out for a little bit. While we are on the topic of his apartment, I have to just mention that it was tiny and a total mess. Anyway, at one point, when Brandon went to the bathroom, I decided that it definitely was time to go home, be in my own bed, and well…dream about Charles Barkley.

I was putting on my jacket when Brandon came back and asked why I was leaving so soon. Smiling, I explained that I had a great time, but was exhausted. He looked a little confused, and slightly angry. Then he responded with one of the most record-breaking statements I have ever heard. His answer (make sure you are sitting down for this one): “You know, the only reason I agreed to go on a date with you was because I heard you needed to get laid.”

I wasn’t sure I had heard him correctly. But I said nothing in response and left. I was in tears on the way home, trying to figure out the logic behind what he said. Later, I realized there really wasn’t any. If someone had even told him that I “needed to get laid,” why bring that up? Also, has he used that line before with any success? In other words, he’s a complete tool bag.*

I have zero regrets about that night. I learned a lot, including the fact that I might be my own best date after all.

*My roommate told me a few months later that Brandon had been fired from his job. He was hung-over and fell asleep during one of his live shows. How’s that for good karma?