It was 9:30 p.m. on a Tuesday and a bunch of us just finished playing tennis in Gilbert — a perfect time for a drink.
“Hey let’s go to Applebees,” Lee said. The rest of us fell in line, because Lee is 300-solid pounds of peer pressure.
We packed 6-8 of us around a round high-top table. Larry was busy leering at all the women in the place and telling us tales of his time on the beach in San Diego.
“The girls over there in the thongs were incredible,” he said. He had a whole bunch of other stories, and I was kind of surprised because I think he has several grandchildren. Hey, good for him.
He didn’t touch these women or stalk them — he just gazed with an appreciative eye (or stared like a creep depending on your point of view). But fuck it, at least he’s not dead yet.
The waitress breaks up our circle of anonymous harassment, and asks for our orders.
“I’d like the tallest, coldest beer your have on tap,” I spit out as quickly as possible. She runs down the list and I picked one of the 1000’s of flavors of Sam Adams. I can’t keep all those fucking names straight – but it’s usually good.
Then the rest of the table orders:
“I’d like a milkshake”
They finish, and its all milk and soft drinks (not even a soda).
“Jesus Christ,” I said. “Are you all alcoholics?”
“No, we are LDS,” one of them said. Latter-Day-Saints – local talk for Mormon for those of you from a state other than Utah, Idaho or Arizona. I had played tennis with these guys for several years on Tuesday nights and had no idea they all belonged to the same club of crazy.
They were not going to drink (at least in front of each other) but they had no problem with me putting down a few 32-ouncers.
“You should come with us to Las Vegas,” Trevor (or Tavin or Taylor or whatever the fuck name starts with a T and ends in Mormon) said. “We could use a designated drinker.”
In any bar no matter who I’m with, I tend to call out “Jesus” and say fuck a lot. The Mormons didn’t seem to notice, and to my surprise the conversation never got awkward – even if I slurred just a little. I didn’t bring up polygamy, or having my own planet in the afterlife, and they didn’t offer to tell me about Joseph Smith.
The rest of the night was stories of trips, girl watching (thanks Larry) with a little sports mixed in. It wasn’t the deepest or greatest conversation I’ve ever had. But it was probably the most interesting I’ve been a part of when I was the only one drinking.
I barely got the second beer down, when they all wanted to go home. Time passes slowly for the sober.
We never did get to Vegas. Shortly thereafter, I moved to Tucson for work and found the 3rd world club. The only place on earth where the bar is just steps away from the tennis court.
Tucson is not Gilbert, my friends. There are no milkshakes ordered at the 3rd world after 10 p.m. And no one volunteers to leave — we get thrown out when the bartender turns off the TV’s.
But if my Tucson tennis friends ever go to Vegas, I might call Lee and Larry and those dirty old men from Gilbert They could be the designated drivers to our designated drinkers…