Monthly Archives: March 2012

Wicked Smooth Start in Boston

“How are you doing tonight Mr. Aufdenberg?” The seemingly defeated and discouraged woman behind the counter said to me as she checked my reservation.

“I am amazing.  I am tired, but amazing” I replied in my usual answer to anyone who inquires about how I may be.

“That is one heck of a reply Mr. Aufdenberg” she replied seemingly caught off guard, as many seem to be when they get such an answer.

“How about you? You look like you have seen better days young lass, and call me Brian” I add in as I hand her my ID so we can get the check in started.

“You have no idea. It is just one of those nights in customer service, and my sons name is Bryan. But he spells it with a Y” she answered, hinting that she still had hopes for some sort of turn around for the night or for a complaining guest to suffer in some way, it was hard to tell her true motives at this point.

“Well, it was a long drive today just over 7 hours with stops, but I love Boston so it was well worth it, and if you named him with a Y, then I suppose it is you who spells, or at one time at least, spelled it with a Y” I come back to her. I was glad to be out of Betty and ready to get deep into a glass of something that can be measured by a ABV rating.

“You make a strong point Mr.Auf–, I mean Brian” She said as she let a loose chuckle out as her face started to slowly light up.  She could sense I meant no harm, and was actually hoping to make her night better than it started. That idea seemed like a good option to her.

“What can I say, I am a giver. Oh wait, here is my rewards number, does this get me anything with this reservation?” I inquire.

“Let me see what I can do for you sugar….”she said in my general direction as she was looking into her computer screen as her long purple nails clickitty clacked away on her keyboard.

A few moments go by with a lot of inquisitive looks and lots of keystrokes until I am informed of the following:

  1. Upgrade to a King Suite with river view.
  2. Free breakfast coupons.
  3. Half priced parking for two days.
  4. 2 Free fresh baked chocolate chip cookies

“You single handedly may be the most bad ass hotel employee in this time zone, if not in all of the Hilton Empire” I say with full confidence in my new friend. “Are you going to be here for a few minutes? I need to drop this stuff off and then I will have one very important question for you” I inform her.

“No need to come back child, just ask me now while you are here. If you don’t like my answer then you wont be upset that you wasted time to come all the way back down here” she says in an almost motherly fashion.

“I can’t argue with that logic, even though I am a creature of habit, you seem like you can be trusted” I say with growing confidence.

“How late is the hotel bar open tonight? I need a handful of drinks and am ready to sit down and get the business done” I almost seem to be pleading for good news.

“Well Brian from Philadelphia who spells his name with an I, the bar is open until ten thirty tonight. Its now nine fifty five. What ever work you need to get into gear, I suggest you report directly to the bar with no delay. I can have the bellman take your bags up for you, and would be happy to arrange such a thing,” she said again in a tone boarding on motherly.

“I like how you think. You are one fine example of perfection. You are the type of dame most of us men are endlessly searching for” I say with a smile and wink that would befit any nineteen thirties spy action charmer of a leading man. “If I wasn’t deeper then a dead anchor in love, I would insist you join me for a drink” I say not hesitating one syllable.

“Your bags sir?” said a new and unexpected voice just off my right shoulder.

“Here you go boss, and here is a token, just for you “ I say with an appreciative smile as I hand him an Abe and start to make a move towards the bar.

************************************************************************************

The elevator whisked me away to the third floor and I made my way directly to the bar. There was basketball on the TV, and your typical landscape of solo men in business casual attire. There is not many things that makes me want to drink, and a fare amount at that, then walking into a room full of middle aged men in blue button down shirts and khaki pants talking about spread sheets and joking about another round then heading to the strip clubs.

“I wonder if you can expense a lap dance?”

“Do you think Mitch in accounting will question why our cards were being used at a place called ‘Giggles’ or ‘The Brass Ass’?

These are the types of comments I heard within a minute of getting to the bar, added in with the bro like head nods from the next table over that means to hint that “hey that guy knows what’s up”.

“Hey there” the bartender says I approach the bar.  “What can I do for you?” he asks as an immediate follow up.

“I need wine. Preferably a full bottle. Whaddaya got as far as Pinot’s go?” I inquire.

“We do have one that’s fitting to all the basketball on. Its called Hangtime and its wicked smooth” he assures me.

“SOLD!” I declare and add in a Caesar Salad with grilled chicken for good measure and find my way back to my seat among the dull dressed and dull conversations.

After a moment or two the bartender comes over with the wine and three glasses, pauses, looks around and asks “How many are in your party tonight?”

“Oh, just me, so lets get this cork a popping!” I reply trying to politely get this process underway.

“Oh, did you want just a glass?” The bartender asked wondering if he had misheard what I had ordered.

“Nope, I want the whole bottle. Every last tasty drop” I replied with the same wink I gave the woman at the front counter but with more of a cool guy tone then spy movie thriller theme.

He opens the bottle and gives me a heavy pour and lets me know the bar closes in twenty minutes almost as a warning, not aware of the caliber of thirst I am capable of satisfying. I suppose I cannot blame him considering the caliber of most of the current company I am keeping and that he must see on a daily and weekly basis. The middle of the road drinking middle of the road beers and cocktails whose recipes they discovered on sports radio commercials.  I say at the end of the day, do what you enjoy and forget the rest, but there is something to say for a certain level of taste too.

He screws the cap back on, grabs the bottle and walks away and it wasn’t until he was back pouring another pisswater beer for another blue shirt that I noticed he had taken my bottle and I could not snap a photo for my Drink A Day column. The next time he walks by I grab him and inquire as to where the bottle had run off to. It is at that point he informs me that in the state of Massachusetts a person sitting or eating alone at a bar or restaurant can not by law have a bottle of wine on the table, it has be kept behind the bar or at a servers station.

“Is that a problem up here?” I ask

“According to law makers it is” he answered.

“That many people eating and drinking alone huh? I then ask.

“They are here for sure, it is a hotel after all” He said with a smirk

“I noticed from the bill. Most of my friends let me crash for free. Oh, and the food and drink prices reflect it too” I said with a playful tone letting him know I  wasn’t being a dick.

“Yeah, I suppose you are right. At least $36 for a full bottle of good Pinot is not to crazy” He reassured me. “It may take a few minutes to get the salad to you and I am trying to close down. Is there anyway I can send the salad and rest of the wine up to your room?” he then inquired.

“Sounds perfect to me” I say without a doubt. “Rock that up to room 1406, but top off my glass first. I am more of a ‘the cup should always be full’ kind of guy. I can’t be bothered with the half empty or half full bullshit. If your glass is always mostly full, the truth will set you free” I say almost in a preachers tone and with just as much conviction.

“You got it champ” the friendly, and ready to be done working bar keep said.

I sign the receipt, leave a cash tip, and make my way up to type this up. Nothing like a good pinot to help good story out….

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Virginia Is For Lovers

The popular wisdom and classic tee shirt says “Virginia is for lovers”. That may be true but tonight I am sans my lover. Instead, I find myself in the suburbs of Harrisonburg, VA in a nondescript hotel, digesting nondescript chain restaurant food, and drinking enough rum and cokes to aid that end of day drift to a quite restful place. That place that never seems to last long enough and the place that you think may subtly smirk at you when you do wake up and realize you are alone and back in that nondescript hotel with nondescript morning breath and thinking you may be one lucky son-of-a-gun because the nondescript hotel has a complimentary breakfast. I know I am happy if the coffee is tolerable and there is at least ONE hot item like a bagel or english muffin. You add in a waffle and I am sold!

The day started off with a smile and kiss with my ladyfriend, breakfast, and the almost robotic process of loading up Black Betty (my car) with garment bags, catalogs, accessories, and other random tools of the trade. A quick stop at WAWA for a Vanilla Coffee and it was time to hit the road. The concreate rose up to great me and the tires put home in the rearview and it was go time. Ninety minutes to Baltimore and two appointments rolled into one with the bad asses behind 16 Tons (http://www.shop16tons.com/) and Doubledutch Boutique (http://www.doubledutchboutique.com/) both located “On the Avenue” in Hampden section. I gave my song and dance like I have a hundred times before and wrapped it up in about ninety minutes. It was then I knew I needed the classic Baltimore meal of a crab cake sandwich. So I made my way down to McCabes (http://mccabeshampden.com/) for a tasty lunch that even included a rather impressive cup of French Onion Soup. It was served in the same bowls we used at Max & Ermas and thoughts wondered to my ABBAJC fams and wondered if I will indeed get to Tampa this month and see the lads and get into some real strangeness or have we all gone to straight and narrow? (Watch this space for THAT story should it come to fruition…)

From there I pay the bill, tip my hat, and make my way back to the road. I get out of town fast and with a purpose and find my self out in the wild of the Shenandoah Valley with the sun trying to get behind the mountains and me. It is a fast two hours or so to get into Harrisonburg. The nondescript hotel DOES have warm fresh cookies with M&M’s in them at the counter and that is always clutch. I get checked in and make my way to the room. I spend about five minutes in there before I know that I need to do. I need food, booze, and I need both a lot sooner than later. I grab my jacket, car keys and hotel key and get out.

I stop at the front desk and ask the nondescript women and say with urgency and authority “I need the closest place to eat, and the closest place to buy the hooch. It has been a long day and I am a man that has needs. I pray you can help me. Be my Obi Wan”

“Hooch? Obi Wan?”

“Yes, both, and with as little as delay as possible” I plea.

“You are not from around here are you?” She askes with a half smile that is more fearful than rational.

“Obviously not. You just checked my ID when I checked in seven minutes ago. I am from Philly. Can you help? I cant no leave such matters to Yelp in times like this in places like this” I say with focus and a sense of urgency.

“There is a Chilis and Applebees an exit or two up, and its Virginia, so you can find the, what did you call it? Hooch? just about anywhere” she said trying to hold back the humor she found in this diatribe.

“Excellent. You did just fine. I will fill out a comment card on your behalf when I get back. You need a raise for this level of service and it needs to be in the multi dollar range” I say as I flash and OK  hand gesture and make my way out of there.

I fire up Black Betty and get on my way to that previously mentioned nondescript chain restaurant. I wont go into much detail as the whole situation was lacking detail so its hard to add any in. There was the usual banter between the bartender and I but for the most part I kept my head down and refueled. As it so happened the lifeless empty hollow of a man next to me was from the Philadelphia region as well, but I didn’t add anything to the conversation the rest of my bar sitting companions were having but it rapidly turned to “just how funny those Yanks talk”. I texted my ladyfirend and notified her of my “like wow” moment but added in a dash of “what the fuck is going on right now”. I pay my bill as soon as I can and am a bit upset at the onsetting bloat but considering the mea, and place I ate at, I would be an ass to not have expected it.

In a matter of moments I am back in Betty and gripping street en route to score my beloved rum. I figured the way the last month has been, its fitting. I get to the ABC Package store and get my fix. The lady at the counter notices my SJ thermal and my tattoos. She smiles in an odd “I know whats going on here” sort of way and I let her have her moment. I do not have the time to go into the speil, so I pay and get moving. I still have a swim to get to and NOTHING is going to slow that down. Thank goodness I only have an exit or two up 81 South standing between me, a stiff drink, and a heated indoor pool. I waste no time getting there, into the shorts and making a good and cheap blend. 2/5ths SJ RUM and 3/5ths Dr.Pepper. I swear this drink was a master plan of those sugar deities to bring us all a bit closer to the mind set of the Nephilim.

The pool was a confortable seventy nine degrees. The drink was a cool thirty eight degrees. They complimented each other well. The first round of drinks didn’t last long. Good thing I brought the bottle of rum with me. To forget it would have been rookie. Seriously, if you cant forecast what you are going to need to drink, you need to do more apprenticing. The good news however is that the pool did not get any deeper than five feet so the drink was able to stay intact for the short duration of its short lived time. It went down fast and with honor. It paved the way for the rest of the night and got it all in motion. I dried off and made my way upstairs. After getting into more comfortable dry clothes it was time to pull the trigger. To get the job done. To get after it. I knew I had to get this day down for posterity, so I did just that. I let it all come out just as it happened.

Now the day is complete. The car is resting. The emails have all been sent. The rum has all been consumed. Its now time to brush some teeth, turn the thermostat up, and get into my nondescript  hotel bed and shut down for a while. Before you know it, the complimentary breakfast will be ready for all of us travelers. Please, dear powers that be….let the coffee be tolerable.

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