They don’t teach you certain things in college that they absolutely should. Don’t wear too much makeup to work, don’t buy a car unless you can absolutely afford a $400 monthly payment, or, you know…don’t take your recovering alcoholic boss to the strip club after a happy-hour-gone-rogue-nine-hour-coke-fueled drinking binge.
I spent many a night in college railing lines of $20 grams and selling off my textbooks to allow myself to rail lines of cheap, college town white pony. Since becoming your typical corporate slap dick hack after college, I had cooled off. I was now snorting $40 grams of bam bam just one night a week and had my habit under control. When you’re hauling in $75K a year in a city where the average rent for a decent one bedroom apartment is $850 and aren’t worried about sending kids through college for another two (three, if I’m lucky) decades, you can live like a goddamn king.
Without getting into much detail, my job is in an industry that requires my boss and me to travel regularly. We immediately bonded in my interview with the company after we found out that we had the same alma mater and we were fraternity brothers, although he had graduated a full 10 years ahead of me. He was now married with children and one of the youngest VPs in our company. We traveled a lot together and were a dominant force. I was promoted within six months of being hired.
My boss knew I was a big partier and knew that it never interfered with my work performance, at least on the surface. There were plenty of Monday mornings where I looked like I was a buttoned-down-had-my-shit-together corporate supernova. In reality, I was wearing two undershirts that were drenched with pit sweat and had shoveled about half a bottle of Excedrin into my mouth before rolling out of bed that day. There was also a decent chance that I ate a gas station hot dog for breakfast that day, too.
A few months after my promotion, my boss told me the news I had been waiting for. Our next trip would take us to Memphis. We had mostly been traveling to cities like Savannah, many Springfields, Birmingham, Jacksonville, Greensboro. We had a great time in each city, but those aren’t exactly heavy hitters when it comes to business travel. Although, I will say Jacksonville gets a bad rap sometimes. Regardless, I fucking love Memphis. I used to go there once a year for our fraternity formal and wreck shop.
I counted down the days leading up to the trip for weeks. We would be there for just over 36 hours. In and out. Plenty of time to get some ribs and drink on Beale Street. My boss was also giddy. Dude popped into my office at least once a day in the three days leading up to the trip. I got a little worried when he started saying stuff like, “Just can’t wait to go to a real fucking city!” and “It’ll be good to get away for a day or two.”
The trip consisted of two meetings with potential clients that ran through the morning and into the late afternoon. At 4 p.m., we were done. Closed on both of them and had most of the afternoon and night to ourselves. We had a flight at 9 a.m. the next day and there was a plate of ribs at Rendezvous just begging to be consumed by yours truly.
Two fantastically smoked racks of ribs later, we headed back to the hotel for a little bit before what I assumed to be us turning in for an early flight in the morning. I asked him if he wanted a celebratory cocktail before hitting the sheets. “Eh, why not?” he triumphantly agreed. We sat in the lobby and talked about his life. It was obvious that he used to be like me. A real young go-hard. Then he up and got married, had kids. Married and mortgaged in the blink of an eye. He said he rarely drank anymore because it used to be a problem for him. I would soon find out why.
Roughly seven gin and tonics later, we were in the middle of Beale Street. My boss was toting around a Diver from Silky O’Sullivans (a bucket full of alcohol and sugar, pretty much) and I was polishing off a Hurricane that had somehow magically appeared in my hands. I had seen my boss drink before, but not like this. He was in full-blown rage mode. On a Tuesday. He was cheering on street performers, buying drink after drink after drink after drink. I looked down at my watch. It was only 9 p.m. I needed one thing and one thing only. I told my boss to go wait for me in Alfred’s while I headed into the underbelly of Memphis, which oddly sits just a couple hundred feet from one of the city’s biggest tourist attractions. I knew exactly where to score blow just off Beale Street. It was a literal walk down Memory Lane.
I texted my boss on my way back after a particularly sketchy run to a particularly sketchy part of town, who was thankfully still in the place I had asked him to stay.
“You sneaky motherfucker.”
“Oh yeah, how’s that?”
“Let’s go do that shit in the bathroom.”
We polished off two gator tails each and went flying out of the bathroom. It was an insane blur, a drunken tornado of bad decisions and insanely inappropriate behavior. He was in the middle of the dance floor, shirtless and windmilling his button-down as fast as his arm could go, screaming like a banshee. Sure enough, he was escorted out. I had completely thrown caution to the wind. My boss and I had entered into a contest to see who could be the biggest degenerate in the state of Tennessee.
Another line. Another bar. 11 p.m. now. Flight was in ten hours. Didn’t care. We were “working from home” the next day, which was probably going to consist of me lying in my bed, watching “Friday Night Lights” and making sure my Gchat icon didn’t turn to yellow. Little did I know that my boss had switched our flight to 2 p.m. and had given both of us the day off. He then told me we were headed to Platinum Plus. He had somehow commandeered the coke from me and was hogging all of it. He was out of control.
He chopped up the last of the powder on the hood of a Honda Accord toward the back of the parking lot at the strip club and railed the last of it, leaving just one tiny bump for yours truly. A fire ignited behind his eyes. He turned into a demon spawn filled with rage, ready to see perky stripper tits and hopefully rub his limp coke dick on some 19-year-old’s ass.
Right after we walked in the door, he stuffed a fifty dollar bill into the bikini top of one of the strippers, threw her over his shoulder, and proceeded to carry her into the VIP area. I hadn’t even located the main stage and my boss had already disappeared through the curtains into the fluid-stained refuge of the champagne room.
I soon followed suit and headed into the depths of the club with a girl of my own. It was more of a reconnaissance mission rather than a pleasure seeking one. I probably should’ve kept the twenty to myself, because right as I opened the curtain, I saw my boss. He had his shirt unbuttoned and there were three, maybe four, strippers pouring champagne all over him. At that moment, it hit me.
This dude was married with children. I was an accomplice to adultery (in a loose sense). As I approached his couch, I saw that his pants were also around his ankles and he had a wad of cash that the strippers kept picking at. Yes, my boss was a VP in the company, but I doubt he was bringing in enough capital to be flinging twenties around a strip club. The man had children. I had to get him out of there. He was getting pretty handsy. Just as I was about to tap him on the shoulder and tear him away from his silicon-enhanced friends, a large hand slapped mine out of the way, grabbed my boss by the collar and belt, and whipped him over the couch and onto his back. They were the bouncers.
One of the bouncers tossed my boss over his shoulder, in an eerily similar fashion to my boss tossing the stripper from earlier, and marched him out of there. My boss had a bloody nose and was a mess. Covered in glitter, smelling like a dirty, Memphis strip club, sitting in the gutter, waiting for a cab.
He went quietly into that good night. (He didn’t die, for those of you who get the reference.) He slept in until noon the next day, and when I rustled him from his sleep, he had that look in his eyes: The “oh man, I really fucked up” look. You know the one. He sat in silence in his bed for a few minutes and politely declined my offering of a “manmosa” (two-thirds orange Gatorade, one-third Bud Light) and Advil. He sat in the bathroom for a good 45 minutes. It was the most awkward, depressing morning of my life, next to the time I thought I had slept with my second cousin.
In the cab on the way to the airport, we sat mostly in silence. Aaron Neville’s “Don’t Know Much” came on the radio and my boss began to silently weep next to me. His life had unraveled, all because I wanted to see some titties. Don’t know if I’ll ever go back to Memphis..
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