There are so many important moments and traditions involved in a wedding. There are first dances and bouquet tosses. There’s touring venues and there’s sampling appetizers. From proposal to honeymoon, there are a lot of moments to talk about. Once again, I want to spotlight just one of these moments, thanks to Felix da Housecat. I want to talk about my bachelor party. If you’re getting all excited for some salacious stories of a “guys night out” or details of the weekend, brace yourself for some disappointment instead. I’m just revealing a snippet of the opening night of adventure. A wise man (actually a character in a TV show) once said, “There are some stories you tell, and some that you don’t.” I would rather keep some bits of this in obscurity. It’s more fun that way.
My best friend and Best Man Josh did an incredible job planning my bachelor party. For my part, I just had to show up, and I was having trouble pulling that off. First, issues came up at work less than an hour before I was due to leave. I had been hoping to leave a little early. I wanted to have amble time to shower and get ready and, most importantly, pack for the weekend. But then a server decided to crash, and no one else in the office was equipped to handle it. I did my best, and ended up leaving about 30 minutes after my usual time. I passed whatever batons I had to and attempted to drive home quickly, only to encounter traffic. More frustration as I sat in the car, and even more frustration as I realized that we were going out for a nice dinner, and I had nothing that I felt was nice enough to wear.
I finally got home, talked to Josh, and got him to delay picking me up for about an hour. I jumped back in the car and went to Macy’s to pick out a couple nice outfits. I tried on what I could, rang up my purchases and hauled ass back home, only to encounter more traffic. Why the hell did everyone decide to be out on a Thursday evening in September?
I returned home, showered, packed some of my new clothes into a bag and laid out an outfit I thought looked pretty good. In fairness, I had to get some input from Heather on it. My fashion sense has always tended towards “all t-shirts match jeans” or “all hoodies match jeans” and had some significant blind spots when it came to dressing like an adult. I worked fast, and Josh only ended up having to wait about twenty minutes later than I said.
I kissed Heather good-bye and got into Josh’s car, heading out for my bachelor weekend. The night began with a nice dinner at Marcella’s, a fancy Italian restaurant in a section of town know as Short North. To begin, it was just Josh and I. My longtime friend and Josh’s brother, Peter (also the officiant of my wedding) joined us soon after. The final member of our little cadre, Jacob, joined us about thirty minutes later, around the time I had finished my disappointingly fruity first drink but before food had arrived. He had been busy drinking at a different bar in a different part of town. There was an odd symmetry going on. At the same time we are celebration my upcoming wedding, he had been drinking all day due to the finalization of his divorce. It didn’t sour the mood at all, it just gave him an excuse to drink twice as much.
After a very good dinner, we moved up the street to a cigar bar called Montecristo. I was treated to the cigar of my choice (not knowing enough, I deferred to the judgement of the helpful staff), which I smoked in the attached lounge. More drinks were had, but not by me. Their liquor and beer selection was, in my opinion, lacking. The other guys suffered through their Corona’s. We talked and laughed for a while there. It takes a bit of time to really enjoy a cigar, and I’ve always been of the mindset that you never don’t finish a cigar once you start it. I felt a little awkward, since no one else decided to partake of the cigar selection.
The next stop was Josh’s place to drop off bags and cars. We would be taking Uber for the rest of the night. But before that, we walked up the street for our official third stop, a little pool hall in Grandview Heights called The Rack. The Rack was nothing all that special. There were three pool tables, a small bar, a few bar tables, a jukebox, a dartboard and a punching game and a small outdoor patio. It was a nice September night, so quite a few people were out there.
Quarters were acquired and drinking resumed. I downed two or three rum and Cokes during the time we were there. Josh put money in the jukebox, which was one of the newer ones where you could download songs that were’t commonly available for a little bit extra. He told us all to pick one song. Given the crowd and the music we had heard since we got there, it was a forgone conclusion that we would all be doing the download option. Josh chose a David Bowie song, Jacob went with White Zombie. I can’t remember what Peter chose. I was last to choose, which meant my song would play last. It was decided that we would not be moving on until all four of us had subjected the group of regulars hanging about to our music choices. In the mean time, we started playing pool.
We played doubles to start, and no one batted an eye when the David Bowie song came on. we continued to play as White Zombie came on. We got a few looks, since we had been the only people all evening to put money in the jukebox. No one seemed to disapprove, but just looked at us quizzically. White Zombie is a bit heavy for an average Thursday night at the local pool hall. Peter’s selection came on, which if memory serves was as non-offensive as Josh’s selection to our fellow patrons. As that song started winding down, Jacob got bored with pool and decided to test his manliness by hitting the punching bag as hard as he could and marveling at his score. Finally, as we switched from doubles to cutthroat pool, my song came on.
The beat of Felix da Housecat slowly came from the bar speakers, as the vocalist started talking about “Way back when, where it all began…” A knowing smile crossed Josh’s face as the vocalist started chanting “Bring that shit back!”
“Did you pick Felix da Housecat,” he mused.
“Yes I did,” I replied haughtily.
Then the bass came in, and we got some serious looks of “what the hell is this?”
We continued to play pool, and I braced for the patron’s reaction when the song became obnoxiously whiny. I knew they would put up with my “techno” to a point, but I was unsure of their reaction to that. It passed without any comments from the peanut gallery.
By this point, Jacob was challenging each one of us in turn to beat his score. He had a lot of pent up frustration (due to the events of the day) and had become “liquor-strong.” Peter caved to his request, but was dwarfed by Jacob’s rage hits again and again. Josh took a couple of turns at it after our pool game finished, but was also unable to match the unbridled aggression Jacob put behind his fist. Peter and Josh took a couple more turns at it, getting better but still failing to top Jacob’s score. I resisted for as long as I could. Then Josh announced we were moving on, and he was going outside to smoke and order our ride. I finally submitted to Jacob’s pleading. He put his money in the machine, lined up his shot and set his number, 296. I downed my third cocktail, sidled up to the machine, and threw one punch. It didn’t beat him, but came within 5 points of him. He looked back at me wide-eyed and said simply “Shit, man, I hope you are never angry at me!” I quoted Jack Burton from Big Trouble in Little China and told him “It’s all in the reflexes.”
We joined Josh outside. One of the patrons of The Rack, a woman in her late forties or early fifties, asked us why we all looked so fancy. We explained that it was my bachelor party, and she offered her congratulations and then offered her company to show us a “helluva night!” We declined her repeated insistence, and then our Uber showed up and we left for the next adventures of our night.