Writers can't help but collect stories, amusing and fascinating tales of everyday life. Some of those stories find their way into art. Other stories are just interesting enough to write down so they're remembered. Below are some of my personal favorites.
THE BOYS CLUB
I once worked at a private, members-only dinner club that had found itself in hot water a few years before I got the job.
The brother of a state level politician, after drinking (at least) a case of Michelob Ultra and taking his prescribed Ambien, decided to instruct a male wait staffer on how to wear his uniform properly. The adjustment included a pair of suspenders and tucking the young man’s shirt into his pants. It also included fondling the young man’s “members-only” areas.
The club’s service manager walked onto the scene around this time and witnessed said groping. Supposedly saw the young man’s distress and the old man’s advances. The assault ended and the parties went their separate ways. The young man was reassigned duties in order for him to avoid crossing paths with Mr. Mich Ultra, ESQ. but eventually he elected to quit working at the club.
Fast-forward a year or two when a certain state level politician becomes Lieutenant Governor, and eventually runs for full-fledged Governor. Suddenly, a certain politician’s brother is arrested for assault and battery in the third degree. The ensuing civil court case revolved around the longterm effects of being violated.
The young man’s now ex-girlfriend testified that he had brushed it off as a “bad day at the office,” and knew the potential payout if he pressed charges. Despite swearing under oath (which is supposedly good enough for God), the ex-girlfriend’s testimony wasn’t good enough for the jury. The (now) governor’s brother was found guilty and paid out 100K in apology.
The Governor’s brother avoided jail time, but was permanently banned from the club and lost his license to practice law in the state. For an old school southern white man that’s worse than a week in solitary.
By the time I started working at the club the whole incident had been swept under the ugly, floral print carpet. Whispers and rumors still circulated if you knew who to ask. Some agreed with the ex-girlfriend, saying the young man was screwed up in the head to begin with and crafted the whole assault. Others swore that he suffered from PTSD because of that encounter in the dining room, and 100K would never ease the pain he would live with for the rest of his life.
I never met the the young man, but, last I heard, he was living his best life and no longer worked in food service.
AULD LANG SYNE
I once knew a woman whose family took the Y2K thing seriously. So seriously
that they thought they could use it to their advantage.
To be fair, the family wasn't in a bad place. There was no crumbling
foundation or leaking roof on their house. Debt was minimal, normal
for families of that size in that era. No one was starving or forced to
choose between power bills and medical bills. Despite this, the woman -
barely eighteen at the time - was convinced by her parents to open as many
credit cards as she could. Her family’s thinking was that when the Y2K
bug hit it would erase all financial data, ergo they’d be off the hook to pay
anything back. Between her, siblings, and the entire family (grandparents
included) they had seventy-two credit cards.
Not surprisingly, 1999 was a bumper year for them.
They bought a new house. A new car. Bought clothes. Bought guns. (Just in case.) They ate at expensive restaurants.
And went on an expensive vacation that summer.
When New Years Eve came the family opened a bottle of Dom Perignon and stood on the deck of their mountain home, staring at the city beneath them.
In the living room Dick Clark’s Rockin’ New Years played on a big-ass-screen TV, counting down the seconds before the lights would go out and the world would end.
The family raised glasses.
They had this in the bag.
Everything was planned.
No more struggle to pay bills.
No more worry about keeping up with the Joneses.
Hell, they were fucking the Jonses.
Safe from creditors, from responsibility.
They would finally be ahead.
Physical goods would be the currency of the future.
Happy New Year!
Fireworks erupted from the city below, celebrating the start of a new year. A new century. A new millennium.
Meanwhile, the family stood in silence as the bubbles in their champagne slowly disappeared.
Twenty years later the family is worse off than they were before. No one went to college. No one has officially been sick for two decades. No one has a bank account. They started the whole thing with a plan to pull a fast one on "the system" in order to get ahead. Now they were barely getting by. Plus the IRS is involved. The system they were hoping to escape is quickly catching up.
For the most part the woman I knew keeps a low profile nowadays, turning the lights off if someone knocks on her door. I can't help but wonder if the person knocking isn't there to turn the lights off permanently.
There is a lizard with a blue tail that lives in the cracks of the concrete front steps of my apartment. When the sun is warm and I’m coming home I catch him scurrying out of sight. I wish he would linger on the steps just long enough for me to tell him that blue is my favorite color.
THE NEW CAR SMELL