We pulled up in my Alfa Romeo wearing Dave’s dad’s suits to try to get into one of the trendiest clubs in Atlanta at the time: Elan.
I gave my keys to the valet, and we approached the bouncer who’d seen us get out of the car. I tried to go first hoping he wouldn’t notice Dave, who almost looked like the kid at the end of the movie Big, swimming in his adult-sized suit. The seersucker I picked out might not have been the most chic-looking, but at least it fit.
“Just act like you own the place,” Dave muttered to me as we made our way to the entrance. What Dave lacked in height, he made up in confidence.
Getting in turned out to be the easy part, socializing with this crowd was a bit more challenging. We got a few drinks and Dave tried unsuccessfully talking to any girl that came within a six-foot radius.
On the surface, this group seemed a bit more polished than at some of the other places we could get ourselves into with our young faces and hodge-podge of fake ID’s: The biker bar that probably figured if we were ballsy enough to enter, then have at it; Confetti’s which was the after-work dance club for all of Atlanta’s bar and restaurant crews, so we could have been bar-backs or busboys paying it sideways; then there were any number of bar & grills that would serve you if you knew the waitress or could smooth talk them; and there was always Clarence Fosters, which was so packed every Thursday to Saturday they couldn’t keep track of what day it was, much less what year you were born.
I went to the bathroom at Elan and was greeted by an attendant. There were empty urinals, but I was never able to go with someone peeing right next to me. The attendant noticed I was eyeing the stalls, so he pushed one open for me and stood aside to let me in.
“Thank you,” I muttered while wondering what kind of tip I was supposed to leave for this experience.
When I finished peeing, I came out and washed my hands, while eyeing all of the different impulse items the attendant had out on the counter. There was mouthwash, cologne, combs, mints, even condoms.
I really wanted a mint, but I didn’t want to have to tip the guy so I held back. When I finished washing my hands I looked for a paper towel, but the attendant beat me to the punch. He offered me the towel he was holding.
Flustered, I just wiped my hands on my seersucker suit and walked out.
While I was navigating the bathroom, Dave had surprisingly lured two women to our table. I nodded as I walked up.
“There’s the dentist,” Dave said.
“Huh?” I asked.
“Marla here, has a question for you.”
Marla suddenly got real close. “I’m a little self-conscious about it,” said Marla.
“Oh, just ask him,” said Dave.
“Okay then,” she looked me right in the eyes. “Do I need braces?” she asked as she smiled at me, a mosh-pit of teeth two inches from my face.
“Uh, ya’ know, I’m a dentist, not an orthodontist, so…”
“Give her your opinion,” Dave said.
“Okay,” I acted like I was studying her teeth, “no, I think they’re fine,” I lied.
When the girls went to the powder room, I looked at Dave. “Dentist? And what are you?”
“Of course, you get the cool job.”
Dave just shrugged. “Look, my Dad and Carine are at my house tonight, so let’s take these two to Carine’s.”
“I don’t know,” I said.
“Dude,” he answered with his multi-purpose word. Depending on inflection, it could mean many things including: “come on, let’s do it”; “don’t even think about it”; “awesome”; or the definitive “you fuckin’ kiddin’ me?” This one was a “come on, be my wingman” type of utterance.
The Alfa was only a two-seater, so the girls had to follow us. I’d never been to Dave’s Dad’s girlfriend’s house so Dave navigated.
Carine’s place was in a Brady Bunch style Dunwoody neighborhood. The house had a For Sale sign in the yard and lockbox hanging from the front door. We pulled up the driveway and Dave hopped out.
“Keep them busy for a minute,” he said as he ran around the back.
“You don’t have a key?” I called out.
“Dude,” Dave answered over his shoulder with the “you fuckin’ kiddin’ me” inflection.
I kept the girls busy by showing off my new car until Dave opened the front door of the house from inside. The girls and I entered, taking in all that this single mom’s house had to offer: flowery wallpaper here, pink pillows there, a family portrait of Carine and her kids over the fireplace.
Dave’s girl spoke first. “You married?”
“No, no. Divorced,” Dave said, as he took the picture off the wall and turned it away from us.
“You build this place?” the girl asked, still believing Dave was an architect.
“You like it?” he threw out.
She looked around again. “I do,” she blurted.
“I did,” Dave lied, “let me give you a tour.”
A half hour and several discussions about teeth later, Marla must have thought I was either gay or not that into her and she gave up. She went to look for her friend and they both left shortly thereafter.
Later that night Dave and I recounted our evening over scattered, smothered and covered omelets at Waffle House. Dave had the time of his life. I, on the other hand, did not.
“Dude,” I said to him in his own language. He just laughed. I took a bite of my omelet and shook my head, “next time- you’re the dentist, and I’m the architect!”