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Subject:  My 15 minutes of fame... Date:  2/10/2003  11:22 AM
Author:  sonofed Number:  15545 of 53882

This weekend was an anniversary of sorts for me. Now, it isn't the sort of anniversary you normally think of and it certainly isn't one I celebrate per se, but it did occur and I thought I would mention it. You see, last Saturday was the 9th anniversary of my 15 minutes of fame.

"Your 15 minutes of fame?", you ask.

Yes. My 15 minutes of fame. It all began as a simple evening out with an old friend...

I have a good friend named Mark I have known since I was 4 years old. We hung out all the time when we were kids, but as we went to college and both got jobs, we ended up living about 1000 miles apart and almost never saw each other. I was in the Air Force up in Boston; he was working for Westinghouse at Savannah River making plutonium to keep the world safe for democracy. In fact, we had a pretty funny encounter with one of our neighbors one day when we were both home. Keep in mind that I come from a small town where most people ended up working in the immediate area doing "normal" things for a living.

Neighbor lady: "So what are you boys doing with yourselves?"

Me: "I help arrange the sale of weapons to foreign governments."

Neighbor lady: "You what?"

Me: "Yeah, I sell to foreign governments, and Mark makes nuclear weapons."

Neighbor lady, looking skeptical: "You're pulling my leg."

Mark: "Yeah, he's pulling your leg. I don't make the weapons... I just help refine the plutonium."

Neighbor lady, look of horror on her face: "Oh look, there's Phyllis. Got to go. Nice seeing you boys."

Anyway, he eventually left Westinghouse and moved back into the local area. Ever since, we've made it a habit to go out every now and then, grab a couple of beers, play pool, whatever. This story is about one of those nights.

Mark, two friends of his I didn't really know, and I were sitting in a sports bar watching the Celtics lose to the Bulls, back before watching the Celtics lose was as commonplace as it is today. We were drowning our sorrows in buffalo wings and cold beer. Suffice to say, the beer worked and by the end of the game, my sorrows from being a Celtics fan had gone down for the third time and were nowhere to be seen. In fact, I'm pretty sure my judgement had gone off with my sorrows to try to console them, because my head was more than a little fuzzy.

Oh well, one of Mark's friends was the designated driver, not me, so no problem. When the Celtics game ended, Mark suggested we go across the street to this other bar. His friends were game, and since they were my ride home, I tagged along.

Now something about this other bar seemed strange as I approached the door. There was a large red neon outline of a woman above the sign. Where the heck were these guys going?

I found out...

Apparently, the beer hadn't completely drowned their sorrows and so they were going to try an alternate approach - a gentleman's club. Now I use the term "gentleman's cub" because this is a family board, not because I think these places have anything to do with being a gentleman.

Now, I can say in all honesty that "gentleman's clubs" do nothing for me. Anytime I've been to one for a bachelor party or whatever, I always end up feeling like a sucker or a mark. Maybe it's my Scottish blood, but paying somebody a bunch of money to take their clothes off and dance around just seems like a rip off to me. Maybe I'm missing something, and I don't judge the folks to enjoy those places, but they've always just left me cold.

Oh yeah, cold...

See, this story took place in February and February in New England is COLD. Now, my only ride home was going into this bar and there didn't seem to be much I could do to change their minds. I had three choices:

1) Sit in the car and slowly freeze to death.

2) Call a cab and pay them $50 to take me back to my car (parked at Mark's house), then sit in my car and slowly freeze to death while waiting for Mark to come home (I wasn't going to drive after the beer).

3) Go in and sit quietly in a warm room while my friends did their thing.

After quickly weighing the options, the one that seemed to offer the best chance of me not freezing was to go in.

I went in...

The place was packed. I found a place at the bar, sat down, and ordered a beer. My friends started off next to me at the bar, but before too long disappeared to their individual pursuits. We stayed in there for about an hour and a half and then they were ready to leave. We piled into the car, drove back to Mark's house, and went to bed.

I woke up in the morning and called my then fiancee. I thought about what to tell her. The whole truth would have been the obvious choice, but that seemed complicated and given how my head was throbbing, 'complicated' was the last thing I wanted.

Now, my wife is not uptight, but something just seemed wrong about going to a strip, ummm, "gentleman's" club, six months before our wedding and the logic that had led me to the decision to go in in the first place just didn't seem as compelling now that I was warm and sober. I decided to fudge. If asked a direct question, I would tell the truth, but I wouldn't offer anything beyond that.

I have since learned that "not telling the entire story" is apparently the same as "telling a bald faced lie", but at the time, my approach seemed reasonable and, within the parameters I had set for myself, honest.

I called my fiancee...

"Hi honey", I said.

"Hi. Did you guys have fun last night?", she asked.

"Yeah, it was a good time. We went to a sports bar with a couple of Mark's friends and watched the Celtics game. I drank too much, though. I've got a pounding headache."

"Well", she asked, "What time are you planning to head back here?"

"Probably about noon", I replied.

"Okay, see you then. Love you."

"I love you to", I replied and hung up.

It had worked. I hadn't lied and I was off the hook. No "complicated" discussions for me today. No way! I felt better already.

I drove home, glad that the issue was dead.

The next week was my nephew's Christening. My fiancee and I were going to be his godparents. We drove out early Sunday morning, had the ceremony, and then headed back to my parent's house for a party. As we sat around the dining room table, I caught a glimpse of the front page of the newspaper.

There, in inch high bold letters was the headline "Sex Sells", and underneath it was a large color picture taken from across the room in a local "gentleman's" club. The picture was artistically done. Dominating the foreground were the legs of a dancer standing up on a stage in the center of the room, and a bit further back, framed by the legs, clear as day, a picture of my face.

Now, I have paid professional photographers to take my picture before, and not one of those pictures ever came out as good as the one I saw before me in the paper.

The picture was not lost on either my father or my mother. They were both looking at me quizzically. My sister was looking at me like she suddenly realized she had asked Ted Bundy to be the godfather to her infant son. I began to get nervous. Nothing good could possible come from this...

I slowly looked at my then fiancee. She had noticed the looks on the faces of my family and was searching for the source. Her eyes settled on the newspaper. Uh oh...

Suddenly, I had an epiphany. I completely understood then and there that there really was no difference between "not telling the entire story" and "telling a bald faced lie". Unfortunately, like many of my epiphanies, it came a bit too late to save me.

In any event, my fiancee was not amused. It didn't bother her so much that I went as it did that I hadn't told her. She immediately concluded that I must have done something really bad if I had to hide it from her. For some reason, she wouldn't take my explanation of what happened. My dual excuses of "just not wanting to get needled by her when I had a hangover" and "I just went in to get out of the cold" didn't seem to convince her.

Let me just say that a $50 cab fare and a bad case of frostbite suddenly seemed like a reasonable price to pay to avoid the fight we had. The good nes is that in the end, she decided that in all likelihood, given how well she knew me, nothing inappropriate had really happened at the club. I think she concluded that my dual excuses, rather than being really bad lies, were probably, in fact, true and were just examples of how maybe I wasn't all that bright to begin with.

I guess she could live with that, because we got married anyway and things have gone well for the 9 years since the incident. In fact, just last year she was finally able to laugh about it. Well, sort of anyway. When I brought it up last February, she laughed menacingly and said "Do you really want to re-open that can of worms?" But hey, a laugh is a laugh. It's progress, right?

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