I had a Saturday morning handball match with Bobo. We were evenly matched, but overall he had a bit of an edge on me so I got to the Manhattan Beach Athletic Club early enough to stretch, hit the speed bag, and do a 10-minute hand-to-eye coordination drill on the court. By the time Bobo entered I had broken a sweat and was raring to go. I felt loose, quick, and ready to run a marathon. The first game wasn't close with me winning by 11 points. My opponent was uncharacteristically sluggish and wheezing to keep up. |
When we left the court between games to wipe off and change into dry shirts, I asked, "What's wrong with you today? Rough night?"
Bobo winked at me then broke into a broad grin. "Yeah, but what a night! I knew I would have this match to work everything off so I got w-a-a-a-y over-served on food and cocktails." Great drops of sweat were falling on the floor beneath where he sat. He began chuckling to himself.
"What?" I gave him a blank look.
"You watched the Super Bowl last week, right?"
"Of course! Who didn't?"
"Ripper and I had a bet with Smiley and Gates. Losers had to take the winners and their dates or wives to dinner at Marina Del Rey. Winners pick the restaurant. Guess who won?" Big Cheshire cat grin.
"Ah, I get it; you ran up the tab." At the athletic club on in-house bets the winners really stuck it to the losers. It was a tradition.
Bobo started laughing almost giving himself convulsions. "See, the only rules were you could only order house wine and had to eat everything you ordered. Didn't matter. You should have seen me. I was disgusting." More laughing. "I ordered four shrimp cocktails, two entrees (abalone and lobster), and ate five cherries jubilee for dessert. Must've had at least five cocktails; the best scotch in the house."
"Oh, hell yeah. He was worse than me. Was eating with his hands before it was over."
"Smiley and Gates eat anything?"
"Their dates ate a regular meal, but those guys shared a small appetizer. Final bill was almost $4,000." Bobo began laughing so hard that tears ran down his cheeks. "Shoulda seen the monster dump I took this morning."
Yeah, right. "Gee, sorry I missed it. Too bad you didn't take a picture or save it. You know, have it bronzed and mounted. Coulda given it to Smiley and Gates as an award."
The scary thing was the way he looked at me you could tell he thought that was a good idea. Then snapping out of it, he said, "We all met at Smiley's place. He made a great looking hors d'oeurve spread and fixed us huge cocktails, but we didn't touch anything. We knew what they were trying to do..."
Smiley was the executive chef for Palos Verdes Country Club, and like many chefs liked to imbibe; maybe a bit too much. Trouble was, Smiley couldn't handle it. Two drinks and he was out-of-it. A few more and he was mouthy, drooled, and wet his pants. Once when he was in Colorado on a skiing trip, he called me at 3 AM.
"Mr. Myers?" asked a disjointed voice; a telephone operator.
"Yes," I said groggily.
"I have a collect call for you from a Mr. Hack--"
"Hi, ya cocksucker!" said Smiley right over the operator's voice.
I slammed down the phone, and took it off the hook. Immediately my memory went back to a night the previous October...
Los Angeles still had the NFL Rams, and they had a Monday night game against the Washington Redskins, Smiley's favorite team. Six of us played hooky from work and met at the club for a workout and steam bath before setting off for the Coliseum. We arrived several hours early to avoid traffic, and holed-up at Julie's, a nearby bar. Later, when we walked through the parking lot to the gate Smiley stopped at his car and retrieved an old, raccoon coat and an Indian chief headdress. After putting on both items--and looking absolutely ridiculous--he reached into the trunk and puled out a five-gallon thermos, which he handled to Garza.
"What's in there?" asked Bud.
"Ram juice!" replied Garza with enthusiasm. "Equal parts vodka and hot beef bouillon."
With a good base of cocktails from Julie's, the last thing any of us needed, especially Smiley, was Ram juice. The game had barely begun and the guys were in high gear with respect to offensive behavior: mostly terrible language and slopping drinks on the people in the row ahead of us--a group celebrating a bar mitzvah. The people were obviously annoyed and made some comments. As soon as the guys realized they were Jewish, our two Jewish guys started loudly indulging in poor-taste ethnic humor egged-on by Bobo.
Suddenly, Bud elbowed me, pointed at Smiley, and said, "Here comes drool number one."
In a stupor, Smiley stood, weaved, and started to unzip his pants. "I gotta take a leak!" he announced loudly.
A bespectacled man in the row ahead of us had enough and began yelling for the police. Bobo punched the guy in the face sending him sprawling over the row ahead of him, and his glasses 10 rows further. Bud and I looked at each other, both thinking we were in a bad dream. Meanwhile, Smiley was trying to relieve himself. Without thinking, I grabbed Smiley and headed for the exit. About midway through the exit tunnel I heard a police whistle.
I propped Smiley against a wall, "Stay here!" then went to confront two angry police officers.
"We're taking your friend in," one officer advised me firmly. "He's drunk, disorderly, and he exposed himself."
"Officer, look he's not drunk--just had a couple. I'll take care of him; get him out of here."
"That guy's not drunk!?!"
"Look at him!" Smiley was face down and snoring in a puddle of what I was pretty sure was urine.
"Take him, " I sighed and started to return to my seat, but thought better of it.
I left the Coliseum, picked up my car at Julie's, and drove home. The game was still in the first quarter.
Copyright 2010 by Gene Myers.
Author of "Songs from Lattys Grove" (2010) from PublishAmerica, Baltimore, MD
Author of "After Hours: Adventures of an International Businessman" (2009) from AEG Publishing Group, New York, NY
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