A Touch of Evil
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“There is a touch of evil in all of us”
– Anthony Quayle, The Evil Touch –
A Touch of Evil
I must have been inspired by my love, Lindsay.
Because last night was crazy. Nuts. Brazil nuts.
Right before I left the office to go to a little shindig I read “Lindsay Lohan was arrested this morning for suspected drunken driving and cocaine possession in Santa Monica, CA.” Apparently, she was chasing down a former assistant, who had just quit hours before, in her SUV.
Oh, Lindsay, you know I love you, and that I’d marry you if you weren’t such a out-of-control crack-head, but I really can’t help you when we’re so far apart…
Anyway, with this little inspiration in my heart I headed over to meet my great friend and editor, Stephanie, and my good ol’ chum and former schoolmate, Alec, who had invited me to join him for “an evening of cocktails and celebration” being hosted by Esquire Magazine and the Canadian design house Jack Victor. The summer soiree was being held at The Garden Rooftop of 620 Fifth Avenue, with an exquisite view overlooking the Avenue and St. Patrick’s Cathedral.
And oh, did they have cocktails...Everyone from exquisitely-dressed fashion industry executives in town for The Collective, a fashion trade show being held this week, to several of the male models often featured in the magazine. The beverages included platters of Chardonnay when you walked in, to any one of five special bars featuring different premium liquors including Patrón tequila, which served extra-strong margaritas at a large ice-bar designed by Okamoto Studio and carved out of the last of the polar ice caps.
Standing in the corner ogling all the fashion house horsepower prancing about, Stephanie and I began with some white wine. We soon moved onto margaritas and then mojitos. Our conversation careened in synch with our steady intoxication and unfurled with the soothing encouragement of the summer breeze wafting through the spires of St. Patrick’s.
Being amidst such an exclusive milieu and the throng of couture whos-who, I soon felt exuberant and began spewing my usual gleeful blathering to Stephanie.
“Stephanie, we’re going to be rich! Really-really rich! And even if we don’t become rich, we’re at least going to have a lots and loads of fun! In fact, 40 years of fun! At least, until they dump me in some nursing home out in the armpit of godforsaken Florida.”
Stephanie laughed shyly in reply, seemingly not knowing whether to simply be amused or wary of my frantic nonsense.
Excited as ever, I also began telling her how much I sincerely appreciated her friendship, her company and her role as the guiding light for my forthcoming book, 25 Lessons.
With a certain glisten and giddiness I smiled at her and thought, “God, I really adore this woman! She’s simply ‘the best’ and I’m sooo lucky to have her as my editor.”
“She's funny, witty, astute, and bright as a brand-new shiny button, a captain’s gold anchor whisked wet with a sudden sea-breeze kind-of-button. Moreover, she’s absolutely gorgeous. It’s so nice to have good friends with whom you not only can converse with nonstop for hours, but who are nice to gaze upon as well.”
At some point, we began discussing “men” or at least the kind of men we found attractive at the party, since we were surrounded by “attractive men,” per se. Ironically though, neither of us could actually find one that we actually thought struck us in some extraordinary manner.
If anything, I confessed, “What really strikes me most about these well-groomed gentlemen are their wardrobes.”
Albeit Stephanie wasn’t blown over by any of these guys, she did mention that she has always been impressed by anyone with "impeccable manners."
For a moment my blood curdled knowing that I was now certainly out of the running with her. Not that I ever felt that I had a smidgeon of a chance, but just knowing that my usual brusque, impatient, and impetuous demeanor was a thousand strikes against me, for a few seconds, my heart slowed down a bit into a sullen stupor.
I consoled myself with a rally-out of this sudden disappointment by thinking, “So what if I have rough-hewn swashbuckling, swaggering proclivities? Heroes and leaders and pioneers are not made to go along at a civil canter, progress was not built at the pace of gentility! Goddamn it, I need to move forward, not simply stand still in my summer whites, sipping fancy cocktails. Hell, life is too short to trot, I want to gallop!”
So, after pepping myself up, I took the last swig of my second mojito, smiled at Stephanie and asked her if she wanted another. She declined, claiming a three-drink limit, but I brought her one anyway.
When I returned, she commented that my pictorial fawning over Rayner’s new girlfriend, Karen was a bit “evil.” I grinned answering that I was confident that my man knew that the flirtatious interplay between die Beauty und das Beast was wholly in jest, a feigning of jealousy for some good ol’ fashioned amusement amongst friends.
Of course, this conversation got me thinking about the cuckold and I spontaneously began calling him periodically for the rest of the evening, giving him updates on what a good time we were having, and he was not.
“¡Horale hombre! Stephanie and I are at this rooftop party right now….uh, and you’re not...but I love you anyway!”
Continuing our conversation about types-we-like, Stephanie and I briefly discussed the influence of astrological signs upon the chemistry of our past relationships.
She commented that the Scorpios have tended to ultimately go crazy, constantly self-inflicting wounds upon themselves and then throwing in salty laments for some sort of strange dramatic effect.
High-and-mighty on a saucy mix of margaritas and mojitos, I immediately pontificated that, being on the cusp of Scorpio/Sagittarius, I understood this guy’s dilemma.
“You see,” holding up my hand like a toreador poised for the kill, “what happens is that he’s got his stinger and he’s inclined to throw it about wildly, especially whenever he’s been scorned.
Thus, he’s constantly hitting himself in the head, because he neither has a target nor can he really think straight. And so, masochism becomes his consolation."
“I, on the other hand, don’t have that problem though, because I get to pick the best traits from both of these signs. You see, I’m a sharpshooter, because not only do I boast the deadly sting of the Scorpion, but I also strike with the poise and accuracy of an archer, the half-man on horseback,” which I proceeded to demonstrate with several sharp jabs in the air.
Albeit, she laughed (politely), she didn’t really seem convinced.
Thus, I suggested we move away from our comfortable seats along the hedges and seek some nourishment. She readily conceded and together we traversed the labyrinth of linen, seer-sucker suits, and patent leather shoes that were meddling about the clear blue swimming pool.
After filling up on some freshly-assembled filet mignon and fried pepper hors d’ouvres, Stephanie and I called Rayner again to tease him with the fact that we were now looking down on him at the Rink Bar from our exclusive purview at The Rooftop.
“Yo homeboy! Stephanie and I are now I’m looking down at you...”
We also taunted him by thanking him for being the reason we were together here, having such a splendid time—for he is the one who happened to pass on my manuscript for 25 Lessons: The Art of Living to her, which quickly led to the book deal and the beginning of a wonderful friendship.
“…and thanks for bringing Stephanie and I together. If it wasn’t for you, we wouldn’t be here getting smashed, having such a great time, eating all kinds of good food, as we watch you from on-high, watching you sip your sad happy hour beer, ogling all the homely-looking office admins and interns muddling about...”
Do not protect yourself by a fence, but rather by your friends.
—Czech proverb —
Of course, Rayner well knew that my barbs and the banter were all in jest. Assuredly, he will eventually take his turn at busting my chops.
Moreover, as I was explaining to Debbie the other day while we were taking the dogs out (oof! oof!) for a walk in the park, busting balls is a quintessential male rite of passage meant to both bond brothers together, as well as toughen each other up—prep for the real world where when you’re striving to make it to the top, there will always be plenty of people who want to tear you down. So, if you can survive the unrelenting ridicule of friends you’ll be ready to take shit from anyone.
Although I’ve observed plenty of cattiness in my time (meow, meow, hiss, hiss), women tend to embrace ideals such as cooperation, altruism, nurturing and saving the world. Men veer the other way—we value the piquing spirit of competition, progress and pioneering—we want things to hurt, no pain-no gain. Despite others’ efforts to pacify everything and flatten the world of differences, “real men” gradually learn that we are inherently attracted to tasks, aspirations and people that test our mettle, who challenge us into becoming mentally, emotionally and physically stronger.
Thus, we bust balls, chop chops, and our eyes glimmer when we have a chance to exercise a touch of evil.
“The scorners of friendship can…be the finest friends in the world.”
Besides, lest we forget, Rayner’s the one with the most beautiful girl in the world at his side. So, someone has to give him a hard time.
Just as the sun began to set, the impeccable Mr. M. came over and invited us to join him at the Penthouse Magazine DVD release party being held at AZZA, a French Moroccan Restaurant and Lounge located on 55th Street, between Lex and Third Avenues.
Understandably, Stephanie declined, and I mischievously asked her, “You don’t mind if I go, do you…?”
Ironically, it was for this very reason that I ultimately asked her to join me at the Rooftop party in the first place. Had it been practically any other female “friend,” assuredly I would have had to decline. I knew Stephanie would let me network as need be, reach out, and take advantage of any and all opportunities that came my way.
As we were gathering to leave, “Peter from St. Petersburg,” and crazy-ass, bug-eyed slick Rick joined us. I instantly took a liking to this wayward fellow, because not only was he a bit wacky, but he enabled me to redeem a bit of my depleted fashion self-esteem.
Somehow he had gotten into the party dressed in shorts, a t-shirt and biking shoes. Not that it really mattered, but to be completely honest, I did initially feel self-conscious when I found myself surrounded by a bunch of good-looking and tall men in tailored suits. Thus, for once, it did bother me that I was wearing a jacket from The Men’s Warehouse.
But then, thank God, like I said, Rick came along and saved the day. Of course, the drinks helped me forget as well...
Ironically though, his casual sports wear did not save him, because once we got to the Penthouse party, the bouncers wouldn’t let him in because he was far too underdressed.
Oh, well, so much for crazy Rick.
Once in AZZA, we met Beleyiana Bivushka, the bartender, a healthy specimen from Macedonia.
Luckily, Peter from St. Petersburg happened to be fluent in every Slavic language and culture possible, and so he talked her up into being really nice to us all evening long. She even kindly offered Mr. M and I to store our bags behind the bar.
About an hour into the evening there, Mr. M’s friend, introduced him and I to all the Penthouse Pets including Roxetta, Celeste Starr, India Summer and Karlie Montana.
Moronically. I naively asked one of them “So, what do you do?” because I had no clue as to what to say otherwise. Hence, my surprise when she nonchalantly replied, “Oh, I do girl-on-girl adult videos, and sometimes ones with my boyfriend, Dirk Diggler.”
Granted, she didn’t actually say “Dirk Diggler,” but I really didn’t hear anything much after “girl-on-girl” either.
After we got another round of drinks, we sat in the VIP lounge behind the red velvet rope for a while. There we had a perfect view of the girls when they began raffling off their new DVD releases. They were giving away about half a dozen of them, and so, after the first one, I said to myself “Fuck it, I’ll just give them my ticket and maybe they won’t notice or they’ll get confused and just give it to me.”
They were pretty good sports about my shenanigans, when I continually came back with the same ticket. Ironically, Mr. M actually had the winning number for the very last prize, and so, ultimately, I had the honor of presenting them with a real winner this time.
Once again, I decided to call Rayner to give him the low-down on all the action he was missing. “Oh my goodness Rayner, there is a horde of Penthouse Pets here and Mr. M and I have the key, because we were just introduced to them all…Moreover, I’m hooked up to an IV of free vodka. Man, you don’t know what you’re missing.”
I tried to convince him to come down to the club, but being inebriated and constantly distracted I didn’t really follow the conversation beyond my own words. Moreover, albeit I invited him with the sort of cockiness that boasted “I own the club,” I really wasn’t all that confident that we could get him in at all, anyway.
At pretty close to midnight, the curtain opened at center stage and the chanteuse Melody Sweets belted out a few songs. Surely, much like every other guy in the club, I waited patiently for her to begin stripping, but she never did, not a stitch of clothing came off and, to be honest, her off-key melody was a bit of a turn-off too.
Nonetheless, the show went on and began feeding our lurid expectations when the burlesque artist MsTickle took to the stage. Apparently, burlesque shows are all the rage these days, at least in New York City.
After the first act though, I knew it was time to go. I was too tired to wait for the orgy to begin.
Besides, it really looked like, apart from the bartender, the Pets, the chanteuse and the burlesque dancer, there were actually no other women in the house, and so it would have been a grotesque display of hairiness and big bellies anyway.
Moreover, I was drinking vodka like water now and finding it hard to curb my enthusiasm. And so I realized that I absolut-ely could not drink anymore, for even another sip would put me at the tipping point between really-really drunk and completely substituting my blood supply with alcohol. I began to feel as if there was enough rum, tequila and vodka in me now to fill the Russian national reserve.
Thus, not having a drink to pass the time, it was at this juncture that I took to my newest favorite pastime—drunk text messaging.
Apparently, I am not alone though, because according to Information Week, Verizon wireless subscribers sent 10 billion SMSs in June alone. Well, maybe they’re not all wasted while texting, but that’s a lot of texting nonetheless, and if you do the math it breaks down to 333.3 million per day, 13.9 million per hour, 231,481 per minute, and 3,858 messages per second. Since Verizon has about 61 million subscribers and there are reportedly 240.5 million subscribers total in the US, if you include the other carriers and apply Verizon’s usage rate, you have almost 40 billion text messages being sent each month in the US.
The problem with the ones I was sending though was that I was so drunk that I couldn’t remember from one moment to the next what I wrote, so that a minute later I would receive a reply and it would make no sense to me whatsoever.
Besides, considering how things can so easily get lost in translation, engaging in drunk-talk over the wire probably isn’t the smartest practice. Nonetheless and allthemore, I’ll presume that my friends forgave me and if anything, were entertained by my speakeasy blather.
On my way out, I leaned over the bar and asked Beleyiana-Buvushka if she could give a bottle of the vodka for the road, she smiled and replied “Sorry darling, we ran out right when the happy hour ended an hour ago.” I blew her a kiss anyway, and then parted, slowly ascending the stairs to the exit.
Thus, I began the stumble homeward.
It wasn’t an easy trek home though, because it was extremely humid, I was wearing wool suit pants and a jacket, I was dehydrated, tired and drunk. Moreover, I was carrying a shitload of goodies with penthouse keys printed on them for my boys—the big boys that is, not the little ones.
And although I was yearning to simply drop this package of chotskies somewhere, anywhere, I persevered, figuring the fellas would appreciate them at the next poker game—and that, strategically, my benevolence might ward off any touch of evil from my friends, who also tend to be my greatest adversaries.
“Writers seldom choose as friends those self-contained characters who are never in trouble, never unhappy or ill, never make mistakes, and always count their change when it is handed to them.”
— Catherine Drinker Bowen—
Other Tales of Drinkin’, Depravity & Debauchery:
A Touch of Evil
In the Blink of An Eye
This Diurnal Yearning
Three, Things I Like
Brain-Picking, Mind-Blowing and Just Getting Drunk
(Hanging with Hizoner at Gracie Mansion or
“A Married Woman and A Thousand Gay Men”)
Half-Crazy Wild Women
Being The More Richly Endowed, More Varied Man
Love, Lust and Other Things
The Lush Life
Having A Drink
Living The Lush Life
(Series of drunk self portraits taken after a black tie dinner)