Welcome to At Large, neighborbee’s newest column. In this column, we will host bloggers who, although not regular columnists, will be contributing to the ‘bee on a relatively frequent basis. Our first At Large post is from one of our favorite bloggers of all time (and last week ‘s featured blogger on The Swarm): Rob The Bouncer .
I know where Roger Clemens ate dinner on Wednesday night. I know where he ate, what he ate, with whom he ate, and what was talked about at his table. I know these things because I was sitting six feet away from him for the better part of an hour.
What happens to me, from time to time, is I get invited to events and activities hosted by very wealthy people. Now, I don’t know a lot of very wealthy people. For whatever reason, though, I know more than my share of people who know people who are very wealthy. The people I know aren’t wealthy themselves, but they seem to receive a disproportionate number of invitations to things involving very wealthy people.
For the purposes of this discussion, “very wealthy people” are, indeed, very wealthy. I’m not referring to some dude who makes $300K per year, plus bonuses, working for Goldman Sachs. This is about people you’ve probably heard of
When these friends of mine receive these invitations, they’re often inexplicably inclined to bring me along as a guest. I don’t know why this is the case, but it happens quite frequently. I have no complaints about these invitations. I simply find it rather amusing to end up, every few months or so, floating around in environs to which I’m not particularly accustomed – and by unaccustomed, I’m not talking about some hackneyed “Which fork do I use?” scenario, either. I just mean that I don’t hang out with very rich people on a regular basis, so I find it interesting to observe them in their natural habitat.
I’ve gone to baseball games with wealthy people, sitting in luxury boxes and drinking beer without abrasive concessions workers taking bottle caps away to prevent me from throwing them at Carlos Delgado. I’ve played golf with the wealthy. I’ve been on their yachts, eaten at their houses and attended their weddings. I think we’ve all done this at some point, but it seems to happen to me with more regularity than it does to most people I know – at least those from my tax bracket. This has been a good thing for me, because I’ve overcome the initial shocked-by-affluence thing I used to have going on in favor of a newer, more constructive what-can-I-learn-from-this-experience approach.
An example of the former was an event I once attended at Baltusrol Golf Club in New Jersey. I really have no idea where Baltusrol stands in the pantheon of rich-guy-golf-stuff, but it’s hosted a load of US Opens and the PGA Championship, so it’s a pretty good golf course – or pair of golf courses, to be precise – if nothing else. A waiter came up to me and asked what I wanted to drink. I replied by asking what kind of beer was available, and he said, “Whatever you want.” I like Bass, so I ordered one. He was back within thirty seconds with a bottle of Bass that felt like it’d been cooling in a glacier for the past week. As soon as I finished it – I mean, within a half-second after my final sip – he was back with another. I was so distracted by this level of service that I kept testing this man’s competence, got extremely drunk, and remembered nothing that was said to me after the first hour or so.
When Roger Clemens walked into the restaurant and sat down next to me, I had a choice to make. I could go into my Baltusrol “Holy shit!” mode and turn the evening into a blur, or I could keep my head, observe the situation, and not look and sound like a jackass in front of our host – who, incidentally, is the former CFO of a major financial institution. Don’t ask me why I was having dinner with him, because I’m not going to tell you. It’s complicated. Suffice it to say that sometimes, when you do something good for someone other than yourself – read: volunteer work – someone will eventually take notice and want to reward you for it.
I chose bemusement as my reaction. I was bemused. That’s the best way to describe it. I thought, “Hey, The Rocket looks a lot younger in person,” and “Hey, The Rocket looks like he’s in pretty good shape. I wonder if he’s talking to the Yankees about coming back,” and finally, “Hey, The Rocket is the only guy in here with a tee shirt and jeans on.” I also thought things like, “Wow, his wife doesn’t look too mad at him, considering the fact that he’s been cheating on her for God knows how long,” and “He looks a lot better off the shit.” These thoughts went through my head in a matter of about thirty seconds, at which point I went back to listening as “The CFO” gave me all kinds of useful advice about going back to school.
In any event, what happens after I’m feted like this – and what doesn’t happen in quite the same way for guys like “The CFO” – is I go home. Home, for me – at least for now – doesn’t involve amenities like gated driveways, marble staircases, entry tables and chandeliers. My home’s theme is more in keeping with the angry drunk guy in the camouflage sweatshirt who was pounding on an ATM and screaming when I walked into the 7-11 at the end of my block.
Once, when one of my nightclubs was decorating for a Halloween party, I read the El Salvadorian busboys’ to-do list. On it was a directive to place “Pump Kings” strategically throughout the club. When I saw the drunk guy in camouflage beating up the ATM at 7-11, I felt like a strategically placed “Pump King.”
Something tells me Roger Clemens didn’t.