Private Magazine

Tag: Casino

Working the Corner in Niagara Falls

Private1

It’s 11:40 a.m. and four old men are collected, like a clump of fungus, in the parking lot of the corner 7-11. They hold 40 oz. Ballentine’s Ales in dirty, gloved grips and discuss an impending “disability check.” When I walk by, coughs and groans bubble from their raspy throats. It’s been a long time since these men have uttered sounds of passion – for life or for anything which life has to offer. Theirs is the blissed-out fog of the forgotten.

It’s 12:01 p.m. and Jennifer and I are opening the Niagara Falls watering hole to the morning crowd. Come to find out, there is a “morning crowd” and by all appearances, they are ready to get their groove on. A flanneled gentleman known as “Skip” drags his body through the entrance in clunky, steel-toe boots. Clomp. Clomp. Clomp. His lips open slightly into a preposterous grin. I notice one of his front teeth is missing. Gone. This is my third day working here, at this landfill of a bar known only as “The Third Hole.” Skip’s been here every single time. I’m sure all the times that I haven’t been here, Skip has been here, and he will be here in the days after I’m gone.

It’s 12:30 p.m  and every bar stool is occupied by a member of the male gender. Coolers are stocked with domestic bottles plus cans of Schmidt’s and Stroh’s. First in line down the L-shaped bar is Ricky, a walking type-2 diabetes, high-blood pressure situation. Despite being a ticking time bomb, Ricky requires three ever-present beverages in front of him – double well vodka and water; tumbler of Mohawk blackberry brandy; and a plastic cup of ice. If any of these get low, you will endure wails of exasperation. Next to him sits Canadian Stu in a half-unbuttoned dress shirt. The level of his Molson doesn’t currently require attention. Then there’s Chester, the most elderly of the bunch, slurpin’ a Schmidt’s along with what’s apparently known as a “Polish Bloody Mary” – a shot of vodka with tomato juice on the side.

“Does anyone want a shot of Patron?” I ask. “Does anyone want to try something new?”

Nothing new is ever on the menu inside “The Third Hole.” Everyone here sticks to a daily routine. Ricky grunts, scratches his stomach. This city, and many of its inhabitants, appear to be lost in the sauce.  An angry-looking fortysomething in a baseball hat glares at me from the end of the bar.

busch

“Can I get you another?” I say, removing his empty bottle. “Bud Light?”

I bring a fresh beer to this bozo but he’s still glaring and not saying a word.

“$2.25,” I say. His eyes pierce through mine. “I said, $2.25!” An utterly-futile staring contest continues for a few seconds, until I’ve had enough.

“The dude at the end of the bar is giving me a hard time,” I say to Jennifer. “He won’t give me the damn $2.25!”

“Oh, he has a tab,” she says. “He didn’t tell you?”

I run to the side of the bar featuring Canadian Stu, who is pretty chill. He’s been knocking back shots of Old Grandad. A biker with glasses declares he wants to buy everyone a round. I place plastic shot cups in front of every man – currency for their next libation. All the drunks are stacked up with shot cups, guaranteeing many rounds to come.

Sometime around 1 p.m., two younger guys walk in. They are probably around 30 and look tired. Sliding onto bar stools, they casually look around and wave to Jennifer. She already knows what they want – a couple Heinekens.

“I haven’t seen you before,” I say to the one with brown, spiky hair who looks like a cross between Shia LeBoeuf and John Belushi. “What do you guys do?”

“We work at the casino,” he says.

“What’s your name?” I ask.

“Scotty.”

“What do you guys do at the casino?”

“We’re pit bosses,” Scotty says. “We sit at the card games and make sure nobody cheats.”

“That’s hot,” I say. “Really hot. Like Rounders starring Matt Damon. You are Edward Norton.”

He doesn’t seem amused. Scotty and his homeboy take their beers to a corner table and start dealing out cards.

“I thought we’d have a shot of Patron?” I say as they’re walking away. Ricky, et. al. start hollering for beer while I’m staring into space.

“Hey, we’re waiting here,” he bellows. A rough-looking Falls chick in a Luke Bryan tee is also vowing for my attention.

“God, thank you,” she says sarcastically. I hand her a basic bottle of Budweiser.

A handsome professional is in the seat where Scotty was. His hair is black with a few grays. He’s mellowing out and doesn’t seem in a rush.

“How about that shot of Patron?” he says.

“I thought you’d never ask,” I say.

The mysterious professional and I stare into one another’s eyes. We sip Patron until he gives me $5 and continues on his way. Ricky, et. al. start hollering for beer again.

“Hey!” Scotty shouts. “Over here!”

“I’m almost done with my shift,” I say. “I’ll come hang with you in a bit, Scotty.”

“No, we need beer,” he says.

The afternoon drags on….

“Barmaid, barmaid,” shouts Chester while rattling his empty Schmidt’s.

Around 6 p.m, Scotty’s girlfriend shows up. Great, I’m thinking. Just what I need. She starts giving me the stink eye. I didn’t realize this place would bring more enemies than friends. It can be hostile when you’re not a Falls chick. If I’m ever found in a barrel at the foot of the Falls, now you know why.

I pop open bottles with a flick of the wrist. I’m not talking as much, lest the drunks get annoyed I take too long delivering their fix. Led Zeppelin drifts around the smelly bar like a missing cat. A sliver of sun manages to cut through the grimy windows. It’s a depressing scene.

These are the men who have washed ashore. The ones society forgot.  Sweat-soaked alcoholics and veterans and lonely widowers, the incapacitated and disabled, the racists and homophobes and misogynists, all paying for beer with plastic cups and loose change. An empty beer with a shot cup over it signifies that person wants another. It’s a secret language spoken by the braindead and the downtrodden. I decide to ride the wave back home, back to Erie County, forever.

Facebook Fucks

scum

 

 

In the early light of dawn, vampires return to their coffins after a night of lecherous bloodsucking.

I scroll through the Facebook feed in a bleary-eyed stupor, in the space between waking and sleep.   An ex-fling from last year – one that barely registered on the FWB Richter Scale – has become engaged. To someone who looks like Miley Cyrus – The Hannah Montana version.  I vomit everywhere.  C’est la vie. A werewolf howls at the moon.

———————————

greenfaces

The February chill whips around my coupe as I speed across the bridge. Fluorescent lights glow in the distance, on a hill, like the Great and Powerful Oz.  I somehow got invited to a “press opening” at the casino, for their nightclub.  I’m psyched!  I plan on schmoozing with whatever “industry insiders” are there.

I get lost and park my car in an extremely far location by accident. Row 578 Section 46, something like that, in the parking garage. I hop into the descending elevator.

“Are you here for the press party, too?” I ask an elderly couple in patriotic sweatshirts.

The elevator dings! and I’m released into the wild. I follow the fist-pumping beats to the nightclub area. A judgemental-looking woman with a clipboard makes sure I’m on the list, hands me a gift bag, and I go into the party. The crowd appears to me an intimidating hoard of old guys in suits. Some middle-aged couples sit around the periphery. Where’s all the writers? I know a writer when I see one. A skinny, bespeckled chap is sitting at the bar. I reach over him and grab a chocolate-covered strawberry.

“Hello!” I say, “So you’re here for the press party? Who do you write for?”

His girlfriend appears.

“Oh, we both write for Lacrosse Monthly,” she says.

A short, awkward conversation begins, until I get the hint and leave. That’s when I spot a devastatingly handsome guy smack in the middle of the room. He seems about my age, with thick brown hair, medium height, wearing a dress shirt and tie. He has the sullen, brooding romantic expression that I adore. The furrowed eyebrows…. definitely the sexiest person here.

I walk up to him in my Professional/Erotic Stilettos and introduce myself.

“Hey, I’m AJ,” he says. “And this is my dad Francis.” An older guy with a goatee and a Nikon comes out of the shadows. “He’s a photographer.”

We chit-chat; AJ tells me that he sells ads for a newspaper. A cocktail waitress appears brandishing a tray of glowing, technicolor shots.

“All right, ok!” AJ takes two shots from the tray. I am trying to sip the same glass of wine the entire duration of this open bar event and be on my best behavior… but my willpower is slipping. I pluck a shot off the tray and take a sip.

“Bleh, I don’t like it,” and set it back down. I must maintain control.

AJ runs off to the bar after asking what I want to drink. He returns with an armful of beverages.

“We have to make this open bar count, we only have two hours,” he says.

AJ and I grow increasingly inebriated together. Between trips to the open bar, cocktail waitresses revolve through the crowd, offering “samples.” Then, AJ points out a towering ice sculpture. Behind it, martinis are being shaken.

“Martini sculpture!”

We drunkenly navigate our way to the shimmering sculpture, staring at one another, drunk and drooling. This AJ fellow is a serious casanova. Selecting a martini glass,  he holds it beneath the ice-cold stream of booze and extends it my way. With a raised eyebrow, he says – “Let’s go to the slot machines.” He makes it sound like a romantic invitation.

We stagger out of the sanctioned soiree. AJ sits down and whips out a pack of Seneca Menthols.

“This machine isn’t taking my money,” I slur, trying to shove a limp one-dollar bill in the slot.

“Here, I got it,” AJ valiantly says, putting a five in.

We puff away on a few Senecas and talk. AJ asks me about my life, my ambitions, and seems interested in everything I tell him.  His green-blue eyes are large and expectant.

“I just can’t believe you don’t have a boyfriend,” AJ says. “Here’s my number.” He hands me his business card. “Let me put it in your phone!” He puts his number in my phone.

I stub out the Seneca in an ashtray and lean over to AJ, who is leaning over at me, and we smooch. Sparks fly; an orchestra of slot machines create the soundtrack. Beneath the white dress shirt, his body is bangin, I can tell.  AJ pulls back, and loosens his tie.

We saunter back to the party. Francis is dancing front row center with a martini in each hand. He grabs me by the arms and starts gyrating to the floor. I am 50 Shades of Blitzed.

The open bar has been over for an hour and a half. AJ continues buying liquor for all of us. Towards midnight, he squints at a receipt in horror. “My God.” He looks at the floor in befuddled silence.

Francis, AJ, and I all put on our coats and head to the entrance.

“Well, bye!” AJ waves and leaves suddenly.

“Goodbye!” Francis, with a wobbly zigzagging strut,  exits after him.

TAbloid

I’m standing in the lobby alone. Great, I’m up a creek, drank a creek, without a paddle…now what am I gonna do? The prominent Hotel Check-In desk is to my right. Maybe I can score a sweet room for the night, with a bathtub and mini bar…Could be posh. I picture some hangover room service in my drunken mind. My God maybe there’s a continental breakfast.

One should never make the assumption that just because a lad gets you wasted,  that he’ll also take care of your drunk ass and make sure you get home. That’s a common misconception.

“Hello, hi…” I mumble to the poker-face desk girl. “How much for a room? I think I’ll just crash.”

“The last room we have available is $475 dollars.”

“WHAT?!” I’m shocked. That’s more than my rent.  “It can’t be!  One night? There’s not a closet or anything?” I’m backing away, back up right into a sitting area and plop down upon an ottoman.

I call my FWB D.D.

“Daniel….Dan, please…I’ve had too many martinonis and I’m stranded at the casino and there’s no room for me…Was falling in love, but he left…Hello?! Hello!”

But Danny-Boy doesn’t answer. I get a large, black coffee and wander the barracks of the hotel until dawn. This place is open 24 hours, after all.

————————————————-

“If a guy totally ignores your Facebook Friend Request and doesn’t call you, ever, does it mean he never wants to see you again?” I ask a  random co-worker.  She doesn’t know what to say.

“But you don’t understand,” I bite into a carrot stick. “It was magical.”

I get home from work as pissed as ever. It’s been two weeks, and  AJ was clearly Wild for the Night Fuck Being Polite. What the fuck! No one does that!

In a fit of curiosity, I find AJ’s Facebook profile, with my request sitting there stagnant, suspended in time. Clearly there is SOMETHING that I am not intended to see.

I see a recent status of his posted on the side. “Feeling Blessed – At Molly’s Tavern.” Why would you be feeling blessed at Molly’s Tavern? There’s nine people tagged, all family given the last name, except one girl. I click on her name. A giant picture of her and AJ is her main photo, with captions like “beautiful couple!” and “congratulations!”

Wow, that was way too easy,” I think to myself. “He’s lucky I’m not a psycho bitch.”

I close my laptop and go outside,  with a renewed sense of clarity.

truckers